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Providing hospitality to low-income immigrants with legal services, advocacy, & education
July 2018
News from National Justice for Our Neighbors:
Reuniting Families & Defending Detainees

The Mother and Child Reunion 

For 38 days, the mother remained in T. Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, a former medium-security state prison. Meanwhile, her 5-year-old son was two hours away in another facility in San Antonio. They had been forcibly separated from each other at the Texas-Mexico border. 

We are happy to report that Delia (featured in Mothers without Children in our June newsletteris now reunited with her son. Both are currently living with family members in a state far north of Texas, while Delia, a survivor of horrific violence in Guatemala, continues the long and arduous process of seeking asylum.

That Delia has managed to get this far in the asylum process is in no small part due to the above-and-beyond efforts of her pro bono attorney, Virginia Raymond, legal director for Austin Region Justice for Our Neighbors. Virginia has devoted a large part of her career to representing asylum-seekers and detained Central American families. 

“I’m glad they are together now, but what about the thousands of other parents and kids still separated?” asks Virginia. “As happy as I am for this family, I am heartbroken for the others.”
Read more HERE. 

Local activists believe that this may have been the first parent and child reunion—at least in Texas—since the administration officially began separating migrant families at the border in early May. 

Investigative reporter Debbie Nathan of The Intercept  followed the story of Delia, her son, and Virginia's efforts to reunite them and give them a chance for a new life free from fear and violence.  Please watch the video and read the story, too!

We care...and so do you 

A small sampling from the National Justice for Our Neighbors mailbox this month:

"I have an extra room.  I can take someone if they need a home.  We love all people!"

"I don't have any professional experience but I'm an immigrant myself and I want to be there for others like me. Thank you for all you do! "

"As a life-long Methodist, I just want to voice my support for your work and for the very public stand the Methodist Church has taken against the immoral policies that have led to this humanitarian crisis at our borders.  GOD BLESS YOU!!!"

On behalf of the entire Justice for Our Neighbors Network, we want to thank the many people who donated, volunteered, or voiced their support for our mission during these last difficult months. 

At the entrance of the United Methodist Building in Washington, D.C, are inscribed these words from Micah 6:8: 

Do Justice. Love Mercy. Walk humbly with your God.

That's the road we travel, and we are so grateful to travel it with you.

Thank you, and please keep those emails coming!

Defending Detainees

JFON Houston— a member of the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative— gives a Texas-sized welcome to Marisa Peterson, the new attorney for their Deportation Defense Houston (DDH) project.  

"I'm really excited to be joining the JFON and DDH team," says Marisa. "As far as I know, this is the first project in the Houston area to focus on detained representation for adults. This collaborative project has the potential to change the local landscape by providing free immigration legal services to local detainees."  

Why don't they just stay Home? 

"...we also visited an incredibly poor church in a gang-run village. To enter this village we had to make sure our faces and hands were visible and that we didn’t inadvertently look anyone in the eyes; gang members were watching us as we drove through the streets and up to the church.  We found a tremendous spirit at this beleaguered church, but also a sense of brokenness from the profound violence, poverty and subsequent migration."

From Understanding the Crisis in Honduras by NJFON Program & Advocacy Manager Melissa Bowe, February 2016. 

It was meant to be a deterrent. Once word got out, the thinking went, that the U.S. government was forcibly removing children from their parents at the border, would-be migrants and asylum seekers would decide it's safer to stay home.

True, nobody jumps from the roof of their house...unless that house is on fire.

A Win for Fairness and Common Sense

You receive a Notice to Appear (NTA) document from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requiring you to appear at a removal (deportation) hearing that will occur "on a date to be set" and "at a time to be set."  

Here's the problem: neither time nor date is set. Is this a lawful document? 

Definitely not, ruled the U.S. Supreme Court last month in its 8-1 decision in Pereira v Sessions

The Court rejected the government's widespread practice of placing non-citizens in immigration proceedings based on NTAs that fail to provide information that would enable them to actually appear at their own hearings. 

Yes, it does seem like a no-brainer, doesn't it? But this is actually a pretty big deal, and it could offer hope to many JFON clients who face removal proceedings. 

Like so many other Supreme Court decisions, this one may have broader implications beyond the sphere of immigration law.  But for immigrants like Wescley Pereira, a Brazilian national who has lived in the United States since 2000, it will provide much-needed relief from deportation. 

For the full story, please read Aaron Reichlin-Melnick's excellent article in Immigration Impact
We rely on the financial commitments of congregations, organizations, and individuals. We appreciate and welcome your support of this ministry. To make a financial contribution, go to the Donation page on our website.  You may also send contributions to:  New England Justice for Our Neighbors, –Belmont-Watertown UMC c/o Jocelyn Milton, 421 Common St, Belmont, MA 02478. Thank you for your ongoing support.
Visit the website for National Justice for Our Neighbors and subscribe to the Newsletter
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