Immigration, citizenship training hosted by Catholic Charities
By Stephanie A. Patka
FORT WAYNE — On June 2, Catholic Charities hosted a training event called “Learning the Proper Steps of Immigration and Citizenship.” Focusing on those who work closely with immigrant populations, the fifth annual training session attracted more than 85 people from Elkhart, South Bend, Warsaw, Plymouth, Indianapolis and Auburn. Attendees included employees from many local social service agencies, representatives of elected officials, law enforcement, diocesan staff, priests and many other individuals.
Catholic Charities hosted this engaging event to raise community awareness and understanding of immigration issues in the community and to offer a public platform for individuals to have their questions addressed by professionals in the field.
Luz Ostrognai, BIA Accredited Representative and Immigration Supervisor at Catholic Charities stated, “Immigration is a complex topic and it is important that immigrants and refugees understand their rights and responsibilities and have safe, qualified professionals available to assist them in processing paperwork.”
Attendees learned about the History of Immigration to the United States, citizenship process and an overview of some humanitarian immigration relief options including the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and other visa options for individuals migrating for their own safety.
Bishop Rhoades provided opening remarks along with Catholic Charities CEO, Gloria Whitcraft. Expert presenters included Cecilia Deypalubos of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Indianapolis; Barbara Szweda, Immigration Attorney at Catholic Charities; and Susan Schreiver, Senior Attorney at Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.
These specialists provided in-depth presentations in their areas of expertise. The afternoon closed with a panel discussion open to audience questions.
For Catholic Charities, this was an opportunity to give pertinent information to other organizations in order for them to educate immigrants and refugees about their rights and responsibilities. Additionally it was an educational tool for other organizations on how to remove barriers that prevent our immigrant brothers and sisters from becoming full members of their communities.
The mission of Catholic Charities is “to serve those in need as Christ would have us do.” Development Director Liz Flaherty commented, “Our faith teaches us the rights of migrants, the importance of keeping families together, and the dignity of every human person. Through this training, Catholic Charities enables more individuals and organizations in our communities to be aware of the legal options available for immigrants and refugees and to provide reliable assistance for vulnerable individuals in applying for legal residency or citizenship in the United States.”