By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
The Diocese of Davenport/ Catholic Charities has been awarded a $10,000 one-year grant from the Amy Helpenstell Foundation Fund Advisory Committee to go towards an administrative assistant position in the Immigration Office. Immigration Counselors Gricelda Garnica and Karina Garnica received the award during a reception last month in Moline, Ill.
Kent Ferris, director of Social Action and Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Davenport, expressed gratitude for the grant, which will buttress the work of the immigration counselors.
“This is fantastic news, much needed these days,” Ferris said. “Our immigration counselors have just come through a tough period when they helped the last of the eligible DACA recipients reapply one last time for the program, and also had to tell a number of potential clients that the program that would have allowed them to pursue employment and/or education is now gone.”
DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a program that gives some people who came to the United States without documentation as children the opportunity to live and work in this country without risk of deportation for a period of two years, subject to renewal. The program is set to expire in March unless Congress takes action to enact legislation to save it.
“Amidst great fear and uncertainty relating to certain facets of immigration, there is now more than ever the need for as much legal help as is possible for those who are eligible to apply for legal permanent residence or pursue citizenship,” Ferris said. “This (grant) will allow our small, yet rich-in-history program to have adequate administrative assistance so that our immigration counselors can spend time seeing more clients.
“Both Gricelda and Karina, as Department of Justice-approved counselors, are the professionals who have demonstrated such long-term commitment to this program and have served thousands of clients over the years.”
“This grant will allow us to assist and to see more clients,” Karina Garnica said. “We’ll get the help we need,” Gricelda added.
The Immigration Office’s grant provides another way to help ensure that families are supported and are able to stay together, noted Kelly Thompson of the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend based in Bettendorf. The Amy Helpenstell Foundation Fund is a fund within the Community Foundation.