Cardinal Timothy Dolan greeted newly arrived migrants from the Texas border Tuesday as the Catholic Church strives to offer services amidst what New York City’s pastor called a disinformation campaign.
Droves of migrants – many of them children – lined up outside the New York Catholic Center on 1011 1st Ave. in Midtown hoping to receive aid after their long journey across the border and the subsequent bus ride to New York City.
According to Dolan, Catholic Charities — which has been in service for over a century — offers a safe haven for the city’s residents as thousands flood the state.
Dolan endeavored to showcase the open arms of the church by embracing families who waited to enter the facility, but for the leader of the Archdiocese of New York, the support provided goes far deeper than a hug and a smile. Catholic Charities is reportedly providing a litany of services, including food provisions, legal advice, and even providing enrollment into Catholic schools.
In many ways, the effort invokes one of the most basic tenets of Christianity and the Catholic faith: welcoming strangers unconditionally, and offering whatever could be provided in their assistance.
“The work of Catholic Charities goes on all the time, their old hands at this. They’re used to doing it and doing it with immense respect and dignity and efficiency. So, no wonder people would turn to us,” Cardinal Dolan said. “And it dawns on me these aren’t just cases, these just problems, these aren’t just statistics, these are not just refugees and asylum seekers in the plural. These are people with names and with dads and moms. These are husbands and wives and kids. And we love them, and we welcome them.”
Officials also addressed what they cite as misinformation.
According to Attorney Maryann Tharappel, the Special Projects Director, Immigrant & Refugee Services at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, migrants arriving at the southern border area being provided with incorrect New York addresses from where to seek shelter.
“These are not residential addresses, so they’re not spaces that are able to accommodate these immigrants. And worse, the government is assuming that these are addresses that they can receive mail at, that this is a place that they can inform them about their court cases, about upcoming deadlines related to their requirements, to check in with ice and that this is a safe address,” Tharappel said.
Monsignor Kevin Sullivan cited droves of families fleeing violence, poverty, and persecution. Many of the immigrants walked from their native lands, clinging to children with very little supplies. They arrive dazed and exhausted but reportedly grateful. Still, the church says offering this care is no easy feat–Sullivan declared that both city and volunteer services are overwhelmed.
“In the past six weeks, more than 1,500 men, women, and children have arrived suddenly and unexpectedly at our doorsteps. Catholic Charities’ dedicated staff stopped business as usual, turned to greet them with respect, with compassion, with dignity, and professionalism,” Sullivan said. “Asylum seekers have arrived hungry; they have been provided with food. Some have needed clothes and they have received clothes. And we’ve given them good information about shelter and other things they need to get around the city.”