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

First Monday

July 2009

JFON Network Update

JFON TN Celebrating One Year

This spring marked the one-year anniversary of the founding of JFON TN. They have added several new members to their Regional Board, hired a Regional Coordinator, and proposed a resolution before the Annual Conference supporting immigrant rights which was later passed. They are currently creating a plan to bring on board a full-time Regional Attorney.

Katherine Dix Esquivel

In addition, JFON TN took over representation of 60 U-visa cases representing over 80 individuals from the Tennessee Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence (TCADSV). After losing the majority of their funding with the financial downturn, TCADSV contacted JFON to see if it they would assist clients whose cases were pending. In return, TCADSV donated funds for JFON TN to hire Katherine Dix Esquivel on a part time basis to handle these cases.

Katherine, who has been instrumental in starting the Tennessee JFON ministry, received a JD from Harvard Law School. After graduation, Katherine clerked for a federal trial judge and then a federal court of appeals judge. As a Legal Aid attorney, she handled child custody, child support, domestic violence, landlord-tenant, and public benefits cases for poor people. Most recently she represented migrant farm workers at Southern Migrant Legal Services. Please join us in welcoming Katherine to the JFON Family.

JFON National Urges support for Made in L.A.

Made in LA

JFON National is urging local JFON Projects and other United Methodists to host a screening of Made In L.A, an Emmy award-winning feature documentary that follows the remarkable story of three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops. Made in L.A. reveals the impact of the struggle on each woman’s life throughout their three year odyssey to win basic labor protections. Made in L.A. is a story about immigration, the power of unity, and the courage it takes to find your voice.

Learn more about this film or order one for only $19.99 on the Made In L.A. website. Also download the guide that accompanies it, to educate and organize folks to action in support of just and humane immigration reform.

JFON NY Seeks Temporary Junior Attorney

JFONNY has an immediate opening for a full time, 6-month temporary staff attorney to serve clients at their four immigration legal clinics in the New York Metropolitan area. If you know anyone who may be interested in applying for this position, please have them contact TJ at TMills@gbgm-umc.org

Advocacy Update

President Obama Held Immigration Summit

As a first step toward immigration reform, President Obama convened a bi-partisan summit at the White House on June 25. The meeting did not get in to details about what would be included in a comprehensive reform package; it was more about the politics, and the need for both parties to work on this together.

Notably, the president committed himself to “heavy lifting” and indicated that Secretary Janet Napolitano will join the congressional working group to shape the reform efforts. In terms of a timeline, debate on legislation should begin later this year or early next year, with both the House and the Senate working on the bill at the same time. Click here to read President Obama’s full remarks following this meeting and here to view a complete list of attendees.

While the summit is hailed as a promising first step, the NY Times reports that there is also a great deal of skepticism as to the possibility of new legislation this year or next year.

DREAM Act

The reintroduction of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act) in both the Senate and House earlier this spring offers hope to countless undocumented immigrants brought here by their parents at a young age. The DREAM Act aims at granting lawful permanent resident status to young people who are bound for college or join the military.

To draw attention to the importance of this piece of legislation and garner support for their cause, 400 students gathered in Washington, DC on June 24 in a mock graduation ceremony to urge the passage of the legislation. The gathering has been held for the past eight years and is led by United We Dream.

The Worsening Plight of Immigrants

As the debate over comprehensive immigration reform heats up once again, we are seeing a backlash against immigrants. This has taken the form of hate crimes, unauthorized deportations by non-federal entities such as hospitals and increasingly harsh state measures.

Killing of a 9-year-old

Brisenia Flores and her father Raul were killed in their home in Arizona on May 30 by people who dressed themselves as law enforcement officers. Three members of Minutemen American Defense were charged in the murder. This is just one example, of the recent rise in hate crimes against immigrants. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights argues that this rise correlates closely to the increasingly tense debate over immigration. Between 2003 and 2007, hate crimes against Hispanic Americans jumped 40 percent.

Hospital “deports” an immigrant patient

Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart, FL, on its own and without legal authority chartered a jet and flew an incapacitated undocumented immigrant back to his village in Guatemala and left him in the care of his elderly mother.

Arizona may require school districts to collect immigration status data

The Arizona Senate Committee on Education Accountability and Reform voted on June 25 to require school districts to collect data on students’ immigration status. Proponents claim the bill aims at assessing the cost of educating undocumented students and is not intended to erode the Supreme Court’s decision in Plyler v. Doe. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that a state statute which withholds from local school districts any state funds for the education of children who were not "legally admitted" into the United States, and which authorizes local school districts to deny enrollment to such children, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The ACLU plans to bring a challenge in court if the Arizona bill is passed.