Providing hospitality to low-income immigrants with legal services, advocacy, & education November 2019
Stories & News from the JFON Network
Guided by HOPE, Responding with LOVE
The immigrant neighbors who find their way to JFON have mostly run out of other options. Some have left everything behind in their old world. Others have lost everything in their new world. Yet they move ahead, one step at a time, pushing aside loss and adversity, and choosing instead Hope as their guide.
We—our JFON attorneys, staff and volunteers—respond with Love.
Yes, LOVE. Ensuring a family can live safely, securely, and togetheris an act of Love, and one that can be just as much a necessity as the basic requirements of food, shelter, and warm clothes.
When we send teams of attorneys to the border, help our JFON sites hire more staff, or work to develop and open new JFON sites in areas underserved by immigration legal service providers…we are also guided by Hope.
And we are responding with Love. Won't you join us?
#GivingTuesday is on December 3rd. Please give to support your immigrant, refugee, and asylum-seeking neighbors.
Tuesday, November 12, 2019: Hundreds of DREAMers and their supporters gathered outside the U.S. Supreme Court under rainy skies today as the justices inside prepared to hear oral arguments on the fate of (DACA).
Many had just completed a 230-mile march from New York City, collecting more and more advocates along the way. Others had arrived on buses and planes from all over the nation. They may have been born in different places, they may have different stories to tell of how they came to the United States, but they were united in the message they wanted to share with the people they consider their countrymen:
This is our country, too. #HomeIsHere.
NJFON Executive Director Rob Rutland-Brown was there, as were many of our JFON friends and partners. We were particularly happy to see Rev. Cassandra Nuñez, our JFON volunteer of the year in 2016 and a #DACAmented leader.
“We are here to ask to continue the DACA program so that those who were left out can apply, get relief, and continue with their own dreams,” says Cassandra. “At the same time, we want to ask for a fair program that will include all 11 million [undocumented] others who do not qualify for DACA.”
Outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday, November 12, 2019.
Still Standing in Solidarity
Congratulations to JFON North Central Texas as they celebrate 20 years of serving their vulnerable immigrant neighbors! We're honoring them this month with a look back at a pivotal moment in our country's recent immigration policy—the 2017 Travel Ban—as witnessed by one of their many stellar volunteers.
“It was a Sunday morning,” Heidi Ortiz remembers, “and we just decided to pack up the kids and go.”
The Trump administration’s sudden and notorious travel ban had hit the nation’s airports overnight and now hundreds of passengers—all of whom had legal permission to enter the U.S. mere hours before—were stranded in detention and told they would have to leave.
By the time Heidi’s family reached Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, groups of volunteer attorneys—armed with laptops—were already camping out in the waiting area outside of international arrivals. Protesters with signs—like Heidi and her youngest daughter below— were there to support the detained passengers and their waiting families.
“It was a chaotic scene,” says Heidi. “But everybody mobilized so quickly—it was very cool to see.”
Nearly three years later, Heidi reflects on the experience and its role in teaching her two daughters when and where to stand up to injustice.
“We need to understand the importance of protest, but also its limitations,” she explains.
“Protest is only one of the many things we do to work for positive change. That work has to be constant, because, unfortunately, the need for it never goes away.”
You can read Heidi’s original 2017 reflection HERE.
Support the Refugee Protection Act of 2019!
The world is currently experiencing the worst refugee crisis in recorded history, with over 25 million refugees—nearly half of them children—forcibly displaced from their homes due to the horrors of civil conflict, persecution, and even genocide.
Yet, in the midst of this humanitarian crisis, the Trump administration has set a refugee admissions goal of 18,000 for the coming year. That’s a mere 19 percent of the historic average goal of 95,000 refugees, and further proof that this administration is determined to undermine and dismantle the bipartisan resettlement program.
Restore U.S. resettlement to historic norms, prevent any President from setting a refugee admissions goal at a level below 95,000—the historic average—and help refugees more fully integrate into their new communities.
Improve access to asylum in the United States, reduce the asylum backlogs, and expand protections for asylum-seeking children.
Strengthen family reunification for refugees and asylees, increase protections for victims of terrorism and individuals who supported U.S. missions overseas, and mandate longitudinal studies to assess the economic, social, and other contributions that refugees bring to the United States.
We expect a bicameral introduction of this legislation very soon, and we encourage you to urge your senators and representatives to support it.
Not as a Stranger, but as a Neighbor
When refugees arrive to the United States, they need help integrating into local communities, finding jobs, and enrolling their children in school. Churches and communities will frequently mobilize to offer them housing, furniture, and other supplies.
Our JFON sites help refugees by doing what we do best: providing immigration legal services. Many people do not realize that refugees are not only eligible, but must apply for lawful permanent status (green card) after one year’s residency in the U.S.
Iowa JFON, for example, serves a large Burmese (Myanmar) refugee population—205 new Burmese clients in this year alone! Iowa JFON helps these refugee neighbors apply for their green cards, petition to allow certain other family members to join them here, and puts them on the track to eventual U.S. citizenship.
Pictured above: Members of the local Burmese-American community celebrate at an event with Iowa JFON.
The Legal Clinic sets up citizenship clinics with the help of Local 5, Hawai`i’s hospitality and healthcare union. They work closely with the city and with the full support of Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
Honolulu is the 90th U.S. city to join this national initiative.
“Hawai`i has one of the highest concentrations of immigrants across the nation,” remarked TLC Board President Corey Park, “…but one of the lowest rates of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs)—green card holders—applying for citizenship.”
TLC is well on their way to changing that statistic. Several clients who came to a TLC clinic for help with their naturalization have gone on to take the oath of U.S. citizenship.
“I will be forever grateful,” says a teary Nely Reinate, a hotel housekeeper and the second immigrant to successfully “graduate” from a TLC naturalization clinic.
“Since I came here, I have been dreaming of becoming a U.S. citizen," she adds. "It is the sweetest and most perfect thing to know that nothing can ever separate me from my family.”
Residents of Hawai`i and new Americans celebrate at a citizenship ceremony on board the U.S.S. Missouri at Pearl Harbor, Honolulu.
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 Donationpage 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.