Catholic Charities opens new legal center to help refugees and immigrants in Houston

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Asylum seeker assistance in Houston just got a lot more convenient after Catholic Charities opened a new center that houses various programs.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings at the St. Frances Cabrini Center haven't come to an end. But now, they're more convenient.


Catholic Charities offers legal help for immigrants, and refugees. In the past, there were multiple locations. However, the Christian organization just gave its clients and workers an early gift with everyone now working in the Galleria location at 5599 San Felipe.

"It's a huge plus," said Catholic Charities' senior attorney, Juan Carlos de las Cuevas. "It's a huge boost for our morale."

Cuevas is a senior attorney at the Cabrini House, a place that means more to him than just a job.

"Why not pay back, or repay what they did for me and help others," said Cuevas, who came to the U.S. from Cuba. "We already had some relatives here and they told us to forget about the hype about Miami. Just come to Houston."

Catholic Charities helped Cuevas' family find a place to live, find furniture, and documents. Most importantly, the agency helped Cuevas accomplish his goal of becoming an attorney.

They introduced him to programs, and 10 years after coming to the U.S., he got his law degree and uses it at the Cabrini Center.


But he's not the only one paying it forward.

Matthew Abid came to the U.S. a decade ago after serving as a translator with the marines in Afghanistan. He got help from a caseworker and Catholic Charities after arriving in Houston. To Abid, it's a place that's welcomed him from the beginning.

"They gave me ride to the store," Abid recalled. "They took me to the restaurant. They were very friendly faces in my neighborhood when I moved. Those memories I can never forget."

Abid is now a caseworker with Catholic Charities. He's been busy this year after the war in Afghanistan came to an end this summer, bringing hundreds of refugees to Houston.

"We have over 700 Afghan refugees that just arrived within the last 90 days," Abid said.


Many of them arrive with nothing beyond the clothes they're wearing. Abid and the agency help the refugees find housing, obtain documents and look for work.

The Cabrini Center assists with legal advice. Abid said many of the refugees have transitioned well in Houston, and thanks to caseworkers, and the Cabrini Center, they're able to enjoy other parts of American culture, including the holidays.

"They saw it in the movies, but now they see things in real life, and they see neighborhood lighting up," Abid said. "They are so happy."

The Cabrini Center helps 15,000 people a year, including 1,000 children. If you need assistance, visit the Catholic Charities' website for more information.

For more on this story, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.