Grants to expand local immigration services

Programs will focus on people seeking legal immigration remedies

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Monterey announced on Jan. 27 the receipt of two grants totaling $141,825, to expand immigration services throughout the Monterey Diocese, which includes San Benito, Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo counties.

A grant in the amount of $116,825, awarded by the California Department of Social Services, will focus on serving persons who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and other legal immigration remedies. Additionally, outreach and educational workshops will inform, and help prepare potential candidates in anticipation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

A second grant in the amount of $25,000, from the Stephen and Madeleine Conran Fund and the Rudolph E. Futer Fund for Human & Humane Needs, of the Community Foundation for Monterey County, will allow Catholic Charities to expand immigration services throughout Monterey County. 

“We are deeply appreciative of these grants through the California Department of Social Services and the Community Foundation for Monterey County, which will allow our agency to reach out and assist many who qualify for legal immigration remedies, thereby helping to stabilize families and improve their economic opportunities,” stated Terrie Iacino, executive director of Catholic Charities. 

The primary population served by the agency’s Immigration and Citizenship Program, as with most services provided by Catholic Charities, is low-income families and individuals, such as migrant and hospitality workers in labor camps and parishes throughout the agency’s service area.

A majority of these clients experience transportation and language barriers which can prevent access to critical services. In response to transportation challenges, the agency has developed a service delivery plan
along the Highway 101 corridor, from San Benito through San Luis Obispo counties, to reach clients in communities where they live. Catholic Charities now has the capacity to serve clients in Salinas, Greenfield,
Watsonville, Hollister and in seven smaller cities in San Luis Obispo County.

DACA outreach will also be conducted at colleges, high schools and in 46 parishes within the Diocese.

Another concern for many seeking immigration assistance is finding a reputable service provider. Catholic Charities offers bilingual staff certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals. The agency also offers citizenship classes in Salinas at no cost to participants, to help prepare legal permanent residents for the U.S. Citizenship Exam. In a press release, Catholic Charities said these citizenship classes "can provide enhanced economic opportunity for those attaining U.S. citizenship, while initiating a deeper stakeholder commitment in their communities through their ability to actively engage in the political process and exercise their right."

BenitoLink Staff