A new program and community partnership, named Welcome, has been launched to help northwest Iowa residents of all faiths with immigration and additional support services. Welcome is a partnership between Catholic Charities, The Diocese of Sioux City and immigration attorney, Revathi Vongsiprasom of Siouxland Immigration Law Firm, L.L.C.
The Diocese of Sioux City funds the entirety of the program. Bishop R. Walker Nickless has long wanted the Diocese to do more for our immigrant brothers and sisters. After attending meetings for many years throughout the Diocese it was clear mental health services and assistance with legal services was paramount to bringing health and safety to our growing immigrant and refugee populations.
Deacon Mark Prosser, special assistant to Bishop Nickless and his representative on the Catholic Charities Board of Directors notes the Bishop’s focus on enhancing these services long term through collaboration before his pending retirement. Prosser adds, “As our Diocese sees continued changes in population and demographics, it is clear our fastest growing population of Catholics and community members in general are immigrants and refugees from around the world. The needs of our new neighbors are great, and I’m so proud of Bishop Nickless and our Catholic Charities Office for taking up the torch for these diverse members of our parishes and communities and enhancing their quality of life through legal assistance and mental health services. This so much meets the purpose of our Church as well as the teachings and examples provided to all of us by Jesus.”
Catholic Charities agrees wholeheartedly. Executive Director of Catholic Charities, Amy Bloch, LISW, shares, “Welcome fits perfectly with our mission to advocate for all people and to offer programs to help them reach their full potential. Now, through this innovative partnership, we have a host of new, life-changing services to help people who face huge barriers to improving their own and their family’s situation.
Welcome allows people living in any of the Diocese’s 24 counties access to high quality immigration legal services plus the additional support of a case manager, without any cost barrier. Revathi Vongsiprasom, the accredited, licensed immigration attorney for Welcome will consult with clients to address their individual immigration concerns and determine possible options. She will also assist with the preparation of applications and documentation needed for family reunification, naturalization, travel, employment authorization, and more.
“As a daughter of immigrants, I understand deeply the hope for the American Dream. Through the Welcome Program, we assist people through the complexities of the immigration system and get them closer to their American Dream. The Welcome Program is a groundbreaking partnership, a beautiful testament to the teachings of Jesus, and I’m humbled and honored to be part of it.”
Welcome is already accepting clients. One of the first is a woman in her fifties from Ethiopia who has been a legal, permanent resident since 2013. She called the Welcome Program to reach her dream of becoming a US citizen. Working with Attorney Vongsiprasom, the woman is applying for naturalization with peace of mind. Another client is a man who faced life-threatening political persecution and physical assaults in his country. He is receiving help to remain safe in the United States.
In addition to immigration legal services, people will have the care of a case manager. Norma Garza-Ramirez with Catholic Charities will ensure clients remain updated about their case and provide linkage to other services such as, counseling, community outreach and financial assistance programs to help meet basic needs. Norma is based out of the agency’s Sioux City location at 1601 Military Road but will spend time in all parts of the Diocese.
The Sioux City office is open for appointments on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. To visit with Norma about our Welcome services or to discuss counseling or other services, call 712-252-4547 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.