Hotline for Immigrants Worried About ‘Public Charge’ Rule

Attorney Dan R. Smulian, from Catholic Charities’ Division of Immigrant and Refugee Services. (Photo by Mariela Lombard via El Diario)

In light of the climate of confusion created by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announcing a proposed rule change for determining who will be “eligible” to receive permanent residence, the Office for New Americans, Univisión 41, Catholic Charities, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the New York Immigration Coalition, The Hispanic Federation and El Diario have come together to create a special hotline to help immigrants who are unsure about how this change may affect them.

The multilingual hotline will be active on Tuesday, Oct. 2 and Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 1-800-566-7636, which typically offers free and confidential information on immigration. A larger number of volunteer experts will be available between the hours of 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. to answer any questions on the new “public charge” rule proposal.

Raluca Oncioiu, director of Catholic Charities’ Immigration Legal Services, (…) explained that the “phone bank” is activated every time there is news that has an impact on the immigrant community.

“We did this when they announced the end of DACA and of TPS for some countries,” explained Oncioiu, pointing out that the assistance by phone is offered year-round. “This is a great opportunity to let people know that we are ready to help them at any time, not just during those two days.”

It will be an intense two hours, and attorneys such as Dan R. Smulian, from the Division of Immigrant and Refugee Services of Catholic Charities, will offer guidance to immigrants on confidential queries and connect them with free or low-cost organizations that could evaluate their cases in more detail closer to their homes.

Smulian explained that immigrants are panicking with this latest change. Still, he clarified that the measure is only a proposal and that it would not take effect for at least two months. “It is important for people to call us in that period of time and to see their lawyer or another organization who can analyze their legal options directly.”

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“As immigrants face the continuous attacks of the Trump administration, we are intensifying our work to keep our communities informed,” said Bitta Mostofi, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. (…)

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