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Catholic charities

Catholic Charities Welcomes the Stranger for Stronger Communities

May 28, 2021

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Dubuque works to reduce poverty, strengthen families, and empower communities in 30 counties in northeast Iowa. In Black Hawk County, the nonprofit provides immigration legal services for those navigating the immigration system. Miryam Antúnez de Mayolo serves as the primary immigration attorney for the county, providing low-cost and often free legal services. “Through the years, Iowa has welcomed so many waves of immigrants, myself included,” said Miryam. “The immigration system is so complex and so convoluted that there is not a straight path to obtaining legal status. Even if people come here legally and they do everything correctly, it is still an uphill battle.”

Catholic Charities is committed to welcoming the stranger as an intrinsic part of the Catholic faith, but the need outweighs resources. Miryam has a caseload of approximately 200 clients and a waitlist of those needing services. A $15,000 grant from CFNEIA in 2020 allowed for capacity building to help remove barriers for immigrants, give them a voice, and provide tools to integrate into society.

The immigration process is a foundation of our country that offers hope to people looking for a better life free of fear and is essential to making our communities stronger through diversity. “We’re a democracy, and we want to live in a world where everyone has access to the same opportunities. That is the essence of the American experience,” said Miryam. “I think there is probably no other country in the world that has been founded, not perfectly, of course, on the idea of equality.”

This story is part of our 2020 Impact Report.