Washington – Immigrant advocates, including Catholic organizations, launched a campaign on July 13 to provide legal aid to those who may need it, in case Congress, under the Biden administration, approves some type of reform.
“Ready to Stay,” the campaign name for the national coalition of more than 18 organizations, unveiled its website.
The website will provide news on immigration reform; prepare potential candidates for what they could do before laws are passed; and provide access to a national network of not-for-profit legal service providers, including those in their region.
“The Ready to Stay coalition has high expectations that Congress and the Biden administration finally provide a path to citizenship for the 10.5 million undocumented immigrants who have lived and worked in this country, their home,” Angelica said. Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights and co-chair of the effort disclosed via Zoom.
“With these high expectations and the hopes and dreams of our local leaders,” she continued, “we are embarking on an unprecedented effort to be ready and build the necessary community education and legal services infrastructure. to carry out any large-scale legalization effort. “
“Unless the infrastructure is there to connect immigrants to programs to protect them and facilitate enrollment, whatever programs the President or Congress adopt will not have their full impact without partners in confidence across the country to implement policy change, ”said the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. Inc. in a July 13 statement.
Launch attendees, which included Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, Calif., Chairman of the board of CLINIC, said they hoped to continue efforts to improve a network that began when Congress, in the midst of 1980s, led by then President Ronald Reagan, passed laws. which legalized, on a large scale, groups that had entered the country without authorization.
At least 3 million people have benefited from this latest effort, known as “amnesty”.
“These were uncertain times,” said Soto, explaining how American bishops and Catholic organizations also participated in the mass legalization effort at the time. “We believe it can happen again.”
These efforts in the mid-1980s led to the start of CLINIC, now a non-profit organization that serves as a legal support agency for diocesan immigration programs.
“With Congress and the White House working on large-scale citizenship and legalization measures, this campaign is creating the infrastructure to help millions of people gain protection and enroll in programs that will lead to a possible citizenship, ”the CLINIC statement said.
Some of these efforts involve keeping potential candidates away from misinformation or scams targeting migrants.
“In an age of mass disinformation, it is important that vulnerable immigrant communities have access to a reliable resource to learn about the latest immigration reforms and how to best prepare for potential changes in the law. on immigration, ”said Rodrigo Camarena, director of the Immigration Advocates Network. , which is part of the campaign.
Soto said part of the preparation involves sensitive tax documents that can help potential applicants prove they were in the country on certain dates, which will help them justify staying in the United States. In some cases, church records, for those who attend church, can help too, he says.
“There are a lot of good reasons to go to church,” he said.
Anna Gallagher, executive director of CLINIC, said the organization adheres to “the future legalization program that Congress will adopt and stands ready to help immigrants realize their dreams of full legal residency, U.S. citizenship and a permanent place in their permanent home, the United States of America. “