By Derek J. Anderson | Globe Correspondent
Within days of President Obama’s announcement of immigration reform, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley said Saturday that the Catholic Charities of Boston will provide further services to immigrant communities, including outreach sessions and a multilingual informational hotline.
“Immigration is not primarily a political problem, but rather a deeply human and profoundly moral challenge facing our nation,” O’Malley said in a written statement.
In a national address Thursday, the president said he would exercise his executive authority to halt the deportation of, and provide work permits for, almost five million undocumented immigrants who meet specific requirements.
O’Malley said in his statement that he felt Obama’s executive actions would not be a long-term solution, but provide some immediate relief.
“We support that relief because extending further the ambiguous and untenable status of the undocumented will be greatly harmful to these individuals and families,” O’Malley said.
To help the immigrant community, O’Malley announced that Catholic Charities of Boston would be implementing a multilingual informational hotline, as well as outreach sessions and legal consultation.
“The information line went live [Friday] after the president’s announcement of administrative remedies on Thursday night,” Catholic Charities President Debbie Rambo said in emails to the Globe. “The message we put on the info line right now reminds people to be careful — [The Department of Homeland Security] has not yet determined [or] defined the application process, so technically there is no application to be filed at this time.”
The recorded message on the line also urges people not to pay anyone to help them apply for the administrative relief, because the forms are not available.
Rambo said the line will be updated as new information about the process becomes available. The line can be reached at 617-464-8004.
As for the informational sessions, none have been scheduled for this coming week, but they appear to be on the horizon. She said that in the past, her group has offered eligible immigrants assistance in avoid deportation and obtain work permits through similar programs.
“We do expect to schedule sessions over the coming weeks in communities where we serve — Boston, Lynn, and Brockton among them — and will also be available to parishes throughout the archdiocese,” said Rambo.
In O’Malley’s statement Saturday, he said once the application process becomes clear, legal consultation will be available to aid in that process. Catholic Charities has a decades-old legal services program for low-income clients, Rambo said.
Despite Obama’s announcement on Thursday, O’Malley expressed concern that the political process has stopped immigration legislation from moving forward.
“We leave the constituational and political issues to those entrusted by office; only they can provide a comprehensive resolution,” he said. “Our primary focus is on the undocumented families, the men, women, and children now stranded in a legal void, living on the margins of our society, in fear of being discovered and deported — either individually or as families. The moral question is about their lives, their needs, and their future.”
Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the Boston archdiocese, said the cardinal’s “concern has only increased by the lack of movement because of the politics of the situation.”
“This is an issue he has a great deal of experience working on going back to his days as a young priest in D.C.,” said Donilon.
“In the face of this daunting and complex challenge we face as a nation, it is my hope and prayer that we will keep human dignity and the welfare of children and families at the center of our attention,” said O’Malley.