Author: Mary Beth Chambers Published:
Long before there was an influx of immigrants at the country’s southern border, Catholic Charities of Wichita was helping those fleeing other countries. Its current Immigration Services ministry has its roots in helping refugees, first those fleeing Cuba in the 1960s, followed by those from Vietnam in the 1970s, and refugees from Africa, the Middle East and some Slavic countries from 1986 to 2012.
Today Catholic Charities Immigration Services focuses on helping low-income people navigate the laws and paperwork associated with a number of immigration-related services, including naturalization and citizenship, family immigration, adjustments of status, removal of conditions, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and green card renewals.
David Osio, long-time program director, said he and his small team assist about 375 new clients a year in addition to managing 200 active cases at various stages of the process. A process for a family can take between two to six years depending on the type of case.
“Many times we wait patiently for the case to process to the series of stages but we are always there for the client providing moral and legal support through the complexities of their cases,” Osio said.
According to Osio, Immigration Services has been accredited by the Department of Justice since 1989 and is affiliated with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC). This allows staff to provide all the services that an immigration attorney would provide. Services are provided in English and Spanish.
Clients pay fees for these services, with an initial consultation fee of $55. Fees for the most popular services like naturalization, DACAs and green card renewals can cost $210-$310, while the cost of more complicated services can cost as much as $1,550.
“Compared to attorney’s fees, these are at a very low cost,” Osio said, adding that for some clients even the nominal fees are difficult to afford. “We created an Immigration Hardship Fund to help people who cannot fully pay the required fees. We provide help from this fund to the most needy and deserving individuals.”
Donating to the fund is one way area Catholics can respond to Bishop Kemme’s recent call to action. Click here to read his letter.
“In his letter, Bishop Kemme asked us to help those coming to our country because they are our brothers and sisters,” Osio said. “Many people living within our Diocese need help, too. These individuals and families love our country and want to do the right thing by living here legally, but can’t always afford the fees for the renewal of their paperwork and services.”
To learn more about the services provided by Catholic Charities Immigration Services or to make an appointment, email Osio at email@example.com or call him at (316) 264-0282. To donate to the Immigration Hardship Fund, visit Our donation page, and select “Immigration Services” in the drop down menu. Or, mail a check made payable to Catholic Charities Wichita to 437 N. Topeka St., Wichita, KS 67202-2413, and note “Immigration Services” in the memo line.
Visit the Immigration Services page HERE.