Combined Jewish Philanthropies backs Catholic Charities' immigration legal aid

BOSTON -- Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), Boston's Jewish Federation, and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston on March 31 jointly announced the launch of the CJP Legal Aid Fund for Immigrants, which will enable Catholic Charities to meet the growing demand for legal assistance to those in the Greater Boston area facing immigration-related legal challenges. CJP will raise funds to support the well-respected and faith-based work in this area performed by Catholic Charities, one of the largest providers of legal aid to immigrants in the Commonwealth.

"As Jews, and as immigrants and the children of immigrants, we have a responsibility to help preserve the rights of those who have come to America to create a better life for themselves and their families," said Barry Shrage, CJP's president. "We believe this is a critical time for our two prominent faith communities to demonstrate that we can stand and work together to assist immigrant families and individuals who are in urgent need of our help."

Currently, Catholic Charities can manage 1,000 legal cases a year, but the demand for their services has risen substantially since January. Through the CJP Legal Aid Fund for Immigrants, CJP will help broaden the reach of these services, providing additional support to the hundreds of people who are currently waiting to receive legal guidance, often at the risk of being deported or separated from their families with each passing day. Many of these families receive other services from CJP's partner agencies, particularly Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), who refer them to Catholic Charities for legal assistance.

"Our dedicated staff is incredibly grateful to be partnering with CJP, a renowned leader in the nonprofit space, to meet the demand of those who are in desperate need of help at this time," said Deborah Kincade Rambo, president of Catholic Charities. "There is real desperation in the immigrant community. Even those who are documented are in fear not only for friends or family members, but they worry themselves if their documentation is 'good enough' to keep them safe. Sadly, we hear from our school colleagues that children in their classrooms are in tears -- worried about the consequences of changing policies. People are panicked; many don't really know their legal rights and are urgently searching for answers and legal advice."

The full amount of donations to the CJP Legal Aid Fund for Immigrants will go to Catholic Charities, allowing them to:

-- Expand legal services by allowing them to hire more attorneys to handle the larger caseload;

-- Assist victims of domestic violence -- both women and children -- to be safe from abuse and earn legal status;

-- Help unaccompanied children who are often victims of sexual abuse, abandonment or neglect;

-- Hold more "Know Your Rights" sessions for immigrants at community centers across greater Boston.