Friday, January 22, 2010

Catholic Social Services offers legal assistance with TPS applications for Haitians in Philly

From Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the citizens of Haiti. TPS provides Haitians that were physically present in the United States prior to Jan. 12, 2010 the opportunity to apply for a temporary legal status with the USCIS and to receive a work permit. Catholic Social Services is offering legal assistance with TPS applications by appointment. Call 215-854-7019 to schedule an appointment. Counselors will meet with applicants, determine if they are eligible to file for TPS and assist with the application process. Many people would qualify, including citizens of Haiti who have overstayed their visas, entered illegally, or have prior cases with the immigration court. All information discussed with Catholic Social Services is completely confidential.

Photo of Mass celebrated for Haitians in Philadelphia by Kevin Cook.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Music for Haiti

Okay, so I'm old enough to prefer the Bob Marley original, and eccentric enough to groove on the Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer cover of this song -- but this version benefits Haiti.

Monday, January 11, 2010

ICE raids South Philly homes

This morning at 6 a.m. Immigration Customs and Enforcement broke down doors at numerous homes in South Philadelphia taking 30 suspected undocumented immigrants into detention, according to CS&T sources.

More information as we receive it...

Pre-school and school-age children were in many of the homes raided. Mothers were not taken into detention so they could stay with the children. According to our source, children were "traumatized" by the doors being broken down by agents.

UPDATE AT 1:30 P.M.:
Two of the addresses of houses in raid had been given to ICE several months ago as suspected hubs for human trafficking and/or a prostitution ring. Other homes in the area appear to have been targeted separately , and the undocumented immigrants picked up at those are not believed to be associated with the human trafficking/prostitution ring, according to our sources.

UPDATE AT 4:30 P.M.:
Inside one of the houses raided.

E., who is the second-trimester of her pregnancy, was asleep at 6:50 a.m. today. An insistent knocking at the door woke her. Her husband, and the nephews who share the house with them, had left at 6:30 a.m. for their jobs as cooks -- E. was alone with her 5-year-old son. She didn't answer the door. But in a matter of minutes, eight armed ICE agents where inside her house and then inside the room where she had been sleeping.

"They didn't break down the (front) door," she said, "so they must have done something to force the lock to get inside."

She was terrified, she told me during a brief interview we conducted over the phone, but was grateful that her son was asleep when the men entered the house. Otherwise, no doubt he would have been as frightened as she was, she said.

"Who lives here?" she said the agents asked her.

"My nephews, husband, my son and I," she said she answered.

They asked her whether her child was born here (he's a citizen) and then asked her for the names and birth dates of all of the members of her household, as well as their phone numbers. She wanted not to give them the information, but she complied.

"I was scared," she said. "Pretty much alone in the house with these men asking me questions, and never telling me what it was they were looking for."

The agents looked around her house, E. said, and found a passport that belonged to one of her nephews. They took that with them.

When they left they didn't tell her what is expected of her now (she is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, as is her husband) or whether they will be back when they anticipate her husband and nephews will be home from work -- but that is what E. guesses will happen.

Of course, she called her husband as soon as the ICE agents left.

E. is spending the night at a friend's house tonight; her nephews and husband will also be staying with friends. They don't know for how long, E. said. What's more, they have no idea what they can, should or are required to do now. None of the agents answered any of her questions.

"But I can't go back home," she said. "Not to wake up again like that -- to eight men with guns. In my house."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Catholic bishops announce nationwide action alert, postcard campaign in support of comprehensive immigration reform

Yesterday afternoon:
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- As the Catholic Church observed National
Migration Week Jan. 3-9, support for legislative efforts took the
forefront amid various other steps to bring attention to the concerns
of migrants and refugees.

In a teleconference Jan. 6, Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake
City, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Migration, described
severalsteps being undertaken by the U.S. bishops, including a new Web site,
a nationwide action alert and a previously announced postcard campaign
toencourage members of Congress to support comprehensive reform. The Web
site is a revamped version of

"The American public, including the Catholic and other faith
communities, want a humane and comprehensive solution to the problems
which beset our immigration system, and they want Congress to address
this issue," Bishop Wester said.

Read the full story by Patricia Zapor of Catholic News Service: