WASHINGTON (December 13, 2000) -- The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) today announced a $550,000 grant to help groups of low-income immigrants identify and overcome barriers to full participation in their adopted country. The Immigrant Empowerment Project will provide financial and technical assistance to community-based efforts to promote the full exercise of rights and responsibilities of immigrants living in the United States.
The three-year CCHD grant will be coordinated by the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Incorporated (CLINIC), in partnership with the United States Catholic Conference's Migration and Refugee Services, Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Charities USA and the Jesuit Conference/Jesuit Refugee Service/USA.
This grant is drawn from a special fund established in 1995 to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of CCHD's nationwide efforts to address the root causes of poverty in America through support of community-controlled, self-help organizations. As the domestic anti-poverty and social justice program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, CCHD has distributed more than $250 million to some 4,000 grassroots projects in the past 30 years.
CLINIC, an independently incorporated subsidiary of the USCC, provides legal support services to 130 Catholic Charities and diocesan immigration programs across the country.
In announcing the grant, CCHD Executive Director Rev. Robert J. Vitillo said, "This project reflects the partner organizations' shared concern for immigrants and their families who live in poverty. Our Catholic social teaching instructs that we not only 'welcome the stranger' but help newcomers assume their full rights and responsibilities in this country."
CLINIC Chief Operating Officer Donald M. Kerwin said, "The Immigrant Empowerment Initiative melds CLINIC's expertise in immigration law and its ability to manage large-scale, multi-site projects with CCHD's compassionate development and nurturing of grassroots groups within the immigrant community nationwide."
According to CLINIC, most immigrants live in "mixed-status" households, which include both citizens or lawful permanent residents and undocumented persons. Mr. Kerwin noted, "Mixed-status families have borne the full brunt of the laws enacted in 1996 to reform our immigration and welfare policies. One sad result is that as few as 35% of immigrants are completing the process to become U.S. citizens. This effectively precludes their participation in our constitutional democracy and perpetuates unequal treatment."
Fr. Vitillo said, "In our experience, people who have the opportunity to discuss their conditions and needs in a supportive environment can develop solutions that help bring about fundamental, positive improvement in their lives. This is what we mean by empowerment. The Immigrant Empowerment Project will help diverse groups of low-income immigrants to access better housing, education, job opportunities and health services for their families and maximize their contribution to our society."
Questions about the Immigrant Empowerment Initiative will be answered by CLINIC at (202) 635-2556. Additional information will be available in mid-February at the CLINIC website, www.cliniclegal.org.