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Promoting Justice for Immigrant Families

Jennifer Pavon, MSW Kathryn Kuennen, MSW

USCCB/MRS August 2012

Catholic Teaching on Migration Types of Immigration Status Strategies to improve service delivery to immigrant families USCCB/MRS Family Reunification

USCCB/MRS August 2012

Participants will learn:
About the contemporary context of migration to the US; including a brief overview of trends and demographics among recent immigrant communities Working knowledge of the types of immigration status and how this impacts eligibility for services. Special considerations when working with foreign-born individuals and families to improve receptivity to services. Share and brainstorm strategies and practices to improve the effectiveness and outcomes while serving these individuals and families
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Catholic Teaching on Migration

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Scriptural Foundations
Old Testament (Jewish) Leviticus 19:33: The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. Quran 4:36 (Muslim): serve Godand do good toorphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the wayfarer you meet [and those who have nothing] New Testament (Christian) Matthew 25:35: For I was a stranger and you welcomed mefor what you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me.

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Principles Governing Migration

Right to find work/livelihood in ones homeland Right to migrate Right of the sovereign to protect borders and regulate migration Protection of refugees and asylumseekers Respect for human rights and dignity of the undocumented person
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Catholic Church involvement in Migration in the U.S.

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Immigration Status and Service Eligibility

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Types of Immigration Status

travel outside of the US, nor can they petition to bring in any of their family, nor can they access public benefits

TPS: Temporary Protected Status: allowed to work, but cannot

they can work and can petition for immediate family (spouse and minor dependent children); they cannot work nor petition for family before the asylum is granted; they may access limited public benefits for a specified time, both of which vary state by state work upon arrival in the US and bring immediate family (spouse and minor dependent children); they may access limited public benefits for a specified time, both of which vary state by state
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Political Asylum: if granted, which takes minimally one year,

Refugee Status: this can only be granted overseas; they can

Types of Immigration Status (Contd)

T and U visas: these are for victims of human trafficking and a
specific list of serious crimes respectively, if the victims cooperates with law enforcement in a prosecution (there is an exception for minor trafficking victims); T Visa recipients are eligible for the same public benefits as refugees and asylees, and some additional funding, they may petition for immediate family members; U Visa recipients may work

VAWA (Violence Against Women Act): a visa to enable

victims of domestic violence here in the US to remain in the US, they are allowed to work, but cannot travel outside of the US, nor can they petition to bring in any of their family, they can petition for dependent children already in the US, they access very limited public benefits

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What does undocumented mean?

US without having come to the attention of Immigration authorities

No status: an immigrant who is in the

In removal proceedings: an

immigrant who was apprehended by Immigration authorities, their case (whether to be allowed to remain in the US) will be decided by an Immigration Judge

Outstanding order of removal: an

Out of status/visa overstay: an

immigrant who entered the US on a specific temporary visa, but remained beyond the terms of the visa
Immigrants who are undocumented are usually not eligible for public benefits* *Check your local and state laws

immigrant who has an order of removal or who was removed from the US and either remained or returned

Petitioner/filing for adjustment of status: an immigrant who has applied for

a visa, and is waiting on the US government decision in their case

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Service Delivery to Immigrant Families

Incorporating Family Strengthening Principles

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Strengths-based Approach to Service Delivery

Identifying and maximizing strengths in a individual, family, and community system Proactively prevents family break down and out of home placements Promotes protective factors by :
Improving family dynamics Improving health and well-being Educating caregivers

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Strengthening Families
Ensuring safety through risk assessment Action-planning with families around areas of need and concern Helping families manage expectations Culturally appropriate services and community referrals prepare sponsors to care for children long-term Strengths-based approach empowers families to draw on their values and strengths to increase resiliency

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Can you serve these children?

Carlos: no drivers license, supporting girlfriend and baby,
undocumented parents

Ana: Burmese refugee with possible DV in the home; afraid to call


Alfredo: Released from immigration detention to distant relative;

taking psychotropic meds

Melissa: US citizen whose undocumented mother is picked up at a

workplace raid

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Risk Factors - Children

Stress of acculturation or culture shock Separation from parent/family resulting in: Past trauma of the children themselves Infantilization (or other relatives/household Increased independence members) Parentified child Immigration issues & the complexity of the multiple systems they must navigate Low level of education Real or perceived barriers to community resources due to language, immigration status, etc. Family dynamics: adjustment to learning or re-learning family roles

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Stress of Acculturation
Feelings of guilt about surviving/thriving in the U.S. Formality of parenting in the U.S. can be a challenge Children are given adult responsibilities at younger ages in many other countries than typical of the U.S. Ethnic prejudices and discrimination can carry over from home countries to immigrant communities here in the US Lack or limited access to formal education of children and/or their caregivers in their home country is a more pronounced deficit in the US
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Individual Stresses of Immigrant Children

The child may no longer have both parents or all his or her siblings and is reluctant to form new attachments Have often been subject to trauma (to include physical and sexual abuse) in their home country, on their migration journey, at the border, and after entering the country Dreams (or expectations) of working to help their families may seem out of reach following apprehension Often coached by smugglers about what to tell authorities Anger at being abandoned by the family
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Real or Perceived Barriers to Accessing Resources

Children or adults in removal proceedings lack status until a final determination limiting eligibility for some services or resources Childs right to education can be questioned It is a crime for some immigrants to attempt to apply for or receive some benefitseligibility rules are complex, and vary state to state Local municipalities are creating climates of fear by regulating other areas

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Family Dynamics
Challenges when family members migrate separately The child may be returning to a family situation that was difficult before separation (i.e. there may be a history of abuse) Reunification and blended families will experience periodic challenges Children may test boundaries and the sponsors commitment Financial stresses Unmet expectations Children joining a parents new family Children may be released or re-unified with young adult relatives with little or no parenting experience, which often places tremendous responsibility on both parties
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Risk Factors Families

Separation from minor for several years High expectations or there may not be a pre-existing bond Lack of parenting skills Lack of education Sponsor is not a parent or relative Lack of social network Financial stressors Legal status Cultural differences in parenting styles Blended families

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Risk Factors - Community

Lack of service structures Low income neighborhoods Lack of community supports Real and perceived barriers to services based on immigration status Discrimination and racism The effect of anti-immigration ordinances
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Protective Factors
Strong Family Relationships Valuing education and achievement for children Maintaining cultural connections while adapting Building supportive networks
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Case Studies
Read the case examples provided and discuss your responses to the following:

What services does this child need? What barriers, if any, would this child face in receiving services in your community? Where or how could the childs needs be met in your community?
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Best Practices
Staff Development
Cross-cultural issues Language capacity and interpreters Biases and assumptions

Working with Families

Build rapport and dispel myths about child-welfare Reporting requirements regarding immigration status

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Best Practices (contd)

Eligibility for services
Public benefits Local private and non-profit resources

Culturally/ethnically/linguistically appropriate resources Respite resources

Social Interaction/Future
Increased social interaction Positive social outlets Biculturalism of minor Planning for the future
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Best Practices (contd)

Legal/CPS Information
Relationships with legal services Possibility of detention CPS

Mental Health Support/Family Strengthening

Family therapy Non-traditional or non-western style therapy Family strengthening programs Family Safety Planning
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Recognize and Use Strengths in Immigrant Community

Mutual Assistance Associations Community-based organizations working with immigrants Do outreach through churches, identify community leaders and host charlas In our experience, families and immigrant communities can and do positively support each other Dont underestimate; many immigrants are in fact welleducated/professionals Immigrants are resilient!

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For further information

Jennifer Pavon, Outreach and Education Coordinator- Family Reunification or 202-541-3131 Kathryn Kuennen, Monitoring and Quality Assurance Coordinator- Family Reunification or 202-541-3144 More information can be obtained at the following sites: or

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Promoting Justice for Immigrant Families through Strength-based Practice

Kathryn Kuennen

Jennifer M. Pavon

Use this sheet to make notes about the takeaway lessons from this presentation. What do you want to remember? What stuck out at you that is relevant to you and your work? Write it here. What question do you want to ask? Write it down here before you forget. This is your opportunity to create your own handout with the key points that you find the most relevant.

CatholicTeaching on Migration
Scripture supports the Churchs position in defending and protecting migrants. Through papal documents and pastoral letters, the Catholic Church in the United States (US)has defined its principles governing migration. The Church has taken an active role in forming public policy on migration issues.

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Immigration Status and Service Eligibility

An overview of various immigration relief options, how immigration status affects ones ability to work and obtain government assistance, and implications for service providers

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Service Delivery to Immigrant Families

Migrating children are often fleeing situations of violence, abuse, abandonment or neglect and are in search of a better life. MRS helps to find a pathway to permanency for unaccompanied children through either family reunification or a specialized foster care program. MRS uses a strengths-based approach when working with migrating children and their families.

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