Published on October 6, 2014
[New Orleans, La.] Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans is partnering with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Migration and Refugee Services to provide legal representation to unaccompanied immigrant children in Louisiana through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Over 1,275 of the nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children who have crossed the U.S. border, have been unified with a family member or sponsor in Louisiana since July 2014. Over 200 of these families have contacted Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans in need of legal guidance. This assistance can be a matter of life or death for some who may qualify to stay in the U.S. based on their past experiences or future persecution, yet nearly two-thirds of minors with cases pending before an Immigration Judge are unrepresented by legal counsel.
“Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans has a long history of providing immigrants and refugees with guidance and assistance. This funding will enable us to assist vulnerable children and families in properly navigating the current legal processes,” said Sr. Marjorie Hebert, President and CEO of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans. “They’ll have an opportunity to voice their cases in a court of law with the guidance and representation of a qualified, legal professional.”
“These unaccompanied children have made a traumatic journey to the U.S.,” said Martin Guiterrez, Division Director over Immigration and Refugee Services for Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans. “Many come due to violence and abuse in their home countries and many may have a valid case to stay in the U.S. We will be able to assist a portion of them in getting they get due process afforded by our current laws.”
Up until now, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans has acted as point of contact for the unaccompanied children and their sponsors seeking assistance, in addition to helping organize orientations for families on the legal process. They have also been working in partnership with Catholic Charities Baton Rouge and the volunteer-driven Pro Bono & Juveniles (PB&J) legal coalition in providing referrals for unaccompanied children.
The federal government announced this week that the Department of Health and Human Services will grant $9 million to support legal services for immigrant children who entered the United States without a parent or guardian. As a grantee in partnership with the USCCB, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans joins a number of affiliate Catholic agencies who will also be working with Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) to provide these legal services. The other agencies include:
- Catholic Charities of Los Angeles;
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston;
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami;
- Catholic Charities of Baltimore;
- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.;
- Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington (Va.).
More about Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans
Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans provides hope, help and loving care for the most vulnerable and needy in the eight civil parishes of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. We work to be the hands and heart of Jesus Christ for our brothers and sisters in need. Through our ministries, programs and community partnerships, we provide a comprehensive network of social services that connects clients to resources and acts as a springboard to self-sufficiency for those struggling. We offer support that empowers individuals, families and communities to grow and thrive. Our Mission: Respecting the dignity and potential of each human person, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New Orleans collaborates with the wider community to serve those in need. Impelled by the love and teaching of Jesus Christ, we offer life-giving programs, advocate for the voiceless, and empower the poor and vulnerable to foster a more just society. www.ccano.org