Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Catholic Charities’ Immigration and Refugee Legal Services continues to serve in Eastern Washington

by Matthew Larsen

(From the March 17, 2016 edition of the Inland Register)

Catholic Charities Immigration and Refugee Legal Services has a long history of serving immigrants in the Spokane Diocese. From the newest members of the community, seeking to resettle and begin a new life, to those who have been here many years and are now ready for citizenship, Catholic Charities has stood ready to help them achieve their American dream.

We meet with clients who are working through the difficult legal path to becoming permanent residents and citizens. We also help those who are victims of abuse find freedom and stability in their lives. Our clients struggle with the reality of poverty and separation from family members who remain in their home countries. In this, Catholic Charities stands ready to assist those among us who are most in need.

Our clients come to us through the many parishes in our diocese. From Pasco, Othello, and Walla Walla in the south, to Okanogan, Brewster, and Oroville and Tonasket in the north, we are able to travel to meet with clients and assist them with their immigration needs. We are also able to meet clients in our Spokane office.

Unfortunately, a reality of achieving one’s immigration dream is that it can be very costly. Immigrants have to work with different government agencies and may have to travel back to their home country in order to obtain an immigrant visa and then return to the United States. We recognize this barrier and offer our services on a sliding scale fee based on a client’s income.

We offer numerous services including family-based immigration, such as work authorizations, adjustment of status, and citizenship. We assist people with humanitarian-based immigration including VAWA, U-Visas and Asylums. We also assist employers to bring skilled workers to the United States through various guest worker programs.

We believe that every person is to be treated not just with respect but with concern for his or her rights. This is the common good of which Catholics often speak, showing concern on a societal level for the rights of the individual. We recognize through our Immigration program the need to uphold the rights of the immigrant. While there are many things that we can do to help others, we also recognize the need for immigration reform, precisely because so many people’s fundamental rights are being undermined. Oftentimes, undocumented parents of US citizens are left with no options and children who have only known America as their home face little opportunity since they cannot even obtain work authorization. In this regard, we stand with our Bishops in the United States in seeking reform that provides for the human rights of all immigrants.

We recognize through our work that the immigrant is often invisible. We meet with individuals who have been in the United States for many years, living and working and praying beside us, without permanent lawful status. We work under the existing law to help them navigate the complicated immigration system.

If you know of anyone in your parish or community who needs immigration help, please have them contact our office for a consultation, at (509) 455-4961. We also ask for your prayers for all migrants and refugees.

(Larsen is an immigration attorney for Catholic Charities Spokane.)

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