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

First Monday

JFON Network Update

JFON Turns 10

2009 marks the 10-year anniversary of the founding of Justice for Our Neighbors. JFON is modeled after a Methodist ministry that began in 1940 of congregations welcoming refugees into their churches and helping them become acclimated to life in a new country. JFON has welcomed and served over 15,000 immigrants through our church based clinics in the past 10 years. The clinics that were established during our founding year include those in Des Moines and Sioux City, IA; Omaha, Nebraska; Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas; and Chinatown and Brooklyn, New York.

Thank you to all those who have been instrumental in helping us reach this milestone. We especially want to thank the “Mother of JFON” Lillia Fernandez for her vision and passion that continues to guide our work today. For those who serve on our National Advisory Committee, the various Regional Boards and clinic task forces, thank you for your leadership and unfailing dedication. But most importantly, thank you to all of you who volunteer your time and energy at our clinics.

JFON Iowa Opens Clinic in Storm Lake

Training Storm Lake January 10-11, 2009 marked the official transition of the Sioux City Clinic to Storm Lake UMC. Panravee Vongjaroenrat and Alice Mar led 15 participants through volunteer training on Saturday afternoon. Participants included new and seasoned JFON volunteers and staff and attorneys from Omaha Nebraska and East Iowa JFON. For the first clinic, Trina Scott-Zuor made follow-up appointments with five on-going clients. New clients will be scheduled beginning in February.

Alice was invited to address all three church services during the weekend in addition to talking about JFON’s ministry to immigrants to the 35-40 people who attended their adult Sunday school. We are encouraged by how eagerly Storm Lake UMC has embraced JFON as a ministry of their church.

Nebraska JFON Hires Second Regional Attorney

Diana McFarlandDiana McFarland joins JFON Nebraska as the Regional Attorney serving clients through their clinic in Omaha. Diana has been involved with JFON since 2005. In addition to volunteering and interning with JFON while in law school, she served as an AmeriCorps member with JFON during her third year in law school.

Diana graduated with a JD from Creighton University School of Law in May of 2008 and took the bar exam in July. While awaiting her bar results, she came on board with JFON as a temporary employee and was officially hired as their full-time attorney upon learning that she had passed.

Diana says, “I actually started volunteering at Justice For Our Neighbors so I could help others in need. Both of my parents are hard working immigrants from Mexico and I grew up in a small town in western Texas. As a child I remember the tough times my parents went through when they were dealing with their immigration matters and I wanted to help families that were going through the same issues. I absolutely love working here and I feel like I am making a difference in others’ lives.”

JFON Brooklyn spotlighted in New World Outlook

Diane Larrier 200The theme for the January/February edition of New World Outlook – the mission magazine of the United Methodist Church – is Small Churches, Big Mission. In the words of the editor, community building “events are important in every church's life, and the fellowship and support that results from participation in these events can sometimes open up a little piece of heaven on earth. God calls the church to open up that little piece of heaven to those outside the church walls.”

One of the churches highlighted in New World Outlook is John Wesley UMC (Brooklyn, NY) for its JFON ministry. It is a great reminder that JFON ministries do indeed open up a little piece of heaven on earth.

Please read the article on John Wesley’s JFON ministry and how it fits into the life of the church.

Advocacy Update

Time for Action Is NOW!!!!!

With the new administration under President Barack Obama, immigrant advocates have a clear opportunity to advocate for changes in the government’s immigration policies as well as immigration legislation.

A great deal of organizing for advocacy is happening around the country. Please join the General Board of Church & Society’s action plan, which includes:

  • Monthly National Interfaith Immigration Conference Calls, sponsored by GBCS. The call is held at 4:00pm EST on the first Monday of each month. On February 2, the discussion will focus on the National Prayer Vigil (see below).
  • Monday February 2, at 4 PM Eastern Time
    Dial-in #: 866-200-5786
    Conference ID: 6814444

  • National Faith Prayer Vigil for Immigrant Families. GBCS and the Interfaith Immigration Coalition are encouraging local faith advocates to host a prayer vigil during the February 13 – 22 recess of the 111th Congress, when members will be back in their home district/state. Join the Interfaith Call on February 2 for more information or visit the Interfaith Coalition website where you can find helpful tips on hosting a prayer vigil as well as resources to help you plan and publicize your event.
  • Registering your vigil on the Interfaith Immigration Calendar
  • National Faith Immigration In-District Week from April 13-17. The purpose is for faith communities to meet with their members of Congress in their home districts and urge them to support just and humane immigration reform.
  • Making your voices heard with calls to Congress, writing letters and articles on immigration, and educating others on issues affecting immigrants.
  • New NY Senator

    Kristin E. Gillibrand was recently sworn into the U.S. Senate to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton. Gillibrand has opposed any form of “amnesty,” favored deputizing local police to enforce immigration law, and opposed the proposal by former Governor Eliot Spitzer to issue drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants. Concerns about Detainee Treatment at Immigration Detention Centers.

    Gillibrand recently met with a dozen or so Hispanic members of the state Assembly and the City Council to discuss immigration.

    Concerns about Detainee Treatment at Immigration Detention Centers

    Researchers at University of Arizona found widespread mistreatment of and inadequate health care for immigrant women held at three detention centers in the state. “The study concluded that immigration authorities were too aggressive in detaining the women, who rarely posed a flight risk, and that as a result, they experienced severe hardships, including a lack of prenatal care, treatment for cancer, ovarian cysts and other serious medical conditions, and, in some cases, being mixed in with federal prisoners.” Read article.

    Another Jail Death and Mounting Questions

    “He lived 42 of his 48 years in the United States, and had the words “Raised American” tattooed on his shoulder. But Guido R. Newbrough was born German, and he died in November as an immigration detainee of a Virginia jail, his heart devastated by an overwhelming bacterial infection.” Read more.

    City of Immigrants Fills Jail Cells With Its Own

    “Few in this threadbare little mill town gave much thought to the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility, the maximum-security jail beside the public ball fields at the edge of town….Then people began to disappear…After days of searching, their families found them locked up inside Wyatt — only blocks from home, but in a separate world. Last spring, The New York Times set out to examine this small city of 19,000 and its big detention center as a microcosm of the nation’s new relationship with immigration detention, which is now sweeping up not just recent border-jumpers and convicted felons but foreign-born residents with strong ties to places like Central Falls.” Read more.

    In recent news, Immigration and Customs Enforcement canceled its contract with the Wyatt Facility following a months-long investigation into the death of Hiu Lui “Jason” Ng. Although the seven employees faced disciplinary actions, Rhode Island prosecutors said that they would not bring any criminal charges against them.