UMCOR / Our Work / Immigration and Refugees / Justice for Our Neighbors / First Monday / Archives 2009

First Monday

JFON Network Update

JFON Retrospective

As JFON enters its second decade, we reflect on accomplishments, challenges and triumphs. The dedication and vision of one woman – Lilia Fernandez, then Executive Secretary for Refugee Ministries for UMCOR – founded JFON in 1999. In ten years JFON has grown to a network of 27 clinic serving 12 Annual Conferences. More than half of the original 11 clinics are still in operation today: Sioux City and Des Moines, Iowa; Brooklyn and Chinatown, New York and; Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.

The JFON network has much to be proud of. In 2009 alone, JFON has served approximately 2,400 clients at over 200 clinics held in 25 churches (plus those held at resettlement centers in Dallas and Fort Worth) across the nation. More than numbers can express, JFON has changed lives – reuniting families after years of separation, enabling clients to access social services, helping immigrant communities better understand their rights, responding quickly to emerging threats such as workplace raids, educating others about the immigration system and advocating on behalf of immigrant neighbors before local, state, and national bodies.

Last year, UMCOR welcomed Bay Area JFON to the family. With the opening of this project in the California-Nevada Annual Conference, JFON is now working in every Jurisdiction!

UMCOR receives inquiries from churches and conferences interested in starting a JFON ministry and is exploring how to sustainably expand the program.

JFON National Relocates Offices

This past month JFON’s national offices in both New York and Silver Spring, MD found new homes. In New York, Alice, Cheryl and TJ will continue to be housed at the UMCOR office at the InterChurch Center and can be reached at 475 Riverside Dr., Rm. 1500, New York, NY 10015.

Panravee and Felicia moved to Marvin Memorial Methodist Church in Silver Spring, MD located at 35 University Blvd E, Rm. 101; Silver Spring, MD 20901. Their phone and fax numbers are unchanged. JFON National is thankful to Woodside UMC in Silver Spring for housing and supporting the ministry for the past 6 years.

UMCOR Celebrates 70 Years

UMCOR is celebrating 70 years of service to the world’s most vulnerable people. Through the generosity of United Methodists and friends everywhere, UMCOR continues to provide relief and assistance to millions of people around the world.

A celebratory timeline offers a glimpse into the agency’s 70 years of hope-filled relief work, from its formation in 1940 at the General Conference of The Methodist Church through Bishop Herbert Welch to the 2009 establishment of UMCOR’s new office in the Philippines. The timeline demonstrates the principles of Micah 6:8: justice, mercy, and humility, and honors the work of Jesus Christ in serving the most vulnerable. Read More.

Pharr Training Group

In addition to serving their first 10 clients through the JFON clinic, more than 100 immigrants came to Pharr UMC as part of the Open Arms Project. Organized by Wesley Nurse, Martha Williams, Open Arms creates synergy among different groups working to meet the diverse needs of their indigent immigrant neighbors. Partnership organizations include the Mexican Embassy, Pharr Literacy Project, The Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, and several healthcare providers.

Attendees were offered free flu vaccines, screenings for peripheral arterial disease, and opportunities to sign up for ESL or citizenship classes, apply for identification from the Mexican Embassy, put their names on the JFON waiting list and learn more about community services and resources. Probably most importantly, for those who live near the border, the Open Arms project provided a warm welcome to newcomers to the US.

Advocacy Update

Reminder: Upcoming Faith-Based Activities

February is the month for the 2nd Annual Prayer Vigils for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

March 22 (noon on the West Lawn of the Capitol) is the day for Faith Rally in Washington, DC, following the Ecumenical Advocacy Days.

Contact Bill Mefford (GBCS) at for more information.

New Study Shows Legalization Will Boost Economy

A study recently released by the Immigration Policy Institute and the Center for American Progress shows that legalization, along with a program that allows for future immigration based on the labor market, would create jobs, increase wages and generate more tax revenue. Comprehensive immigration reform would add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the U.S. gross domestic product over 10 years. The report also estimates that a program of mass deportation of current undocumented immigrants would reduce GDP by $2.6 trillion over 10 years. Read More.

 How ICE Detains Immigrants

“If you don't have enough evidence to charge someone criminally but you think he's illegal, we can make him disappear.” Those chilling words were spoken by James Pendergraph, then Executive Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of State and Local Coordination, at a conference of police and sheriffs in August 2008. A news report reveals that ICE is imprisoning immigrants in 186 unlisted and unmarked subfield offices scattered throughout the country in suburban office buildings and commercial spaces. Read a report by Amnesty International.

New Approach to Errant Refugees: JAIL THEM!

Human Rights Watch recently released a 40-page report that examines the detention of refugees for failure to file for lawful permanent resident status, even though US immigration officials already put them through a thorough vetting process at the time they were recognized as refugees. Although only a small number of refugees are jailed for this purpose, and the number appears to have decreased under the Obama administration, the detentions continue to be selective and arbitrary, and therefore a violation of international human rights law. The report recommends changing US law to close the legal loophole that allows for detaining these refugees and to give them lawful permanent residence when the US grants them asylum or admits them to the country under its overseas refugee resettlement program. Read More.