JFON Network Update
JFON Iowa Celebrates 10 years
JFON Iowa celebrated ten years of mission to immigrants and refugees at a recent luncheon held at the Iowa Annual Conference in Ames, Iowa. During the luncheon, Rev. Joan Maruskin of Church World Service spoke about the church’s responsibility to care for strangers and sojourners. The 85 supporters of JFON enjoyed an ethnic meal prepared by members of Las Americas Comunidad de Fé, Des Moines, a faith community organization associated with Trinity United Methodist Church in Des Moines, Iowa. The celebration also included a time to recognize the host churches, dedicated volunteers, and key partners.
California-Nevada Annual Conference to Start JFON
We are excited to announce that we have finally expanded to the west coast! Bay Area JFON was approved as the 12th JFON Region. This project kicked-off after a young college student, Lupe Afu, completed an 8-week summer internship with JFON Baltimore-Washington DC last year and returned home determined to get her annual conference involved. Between juggling her studies and a job, Lupe managed to bring together a group of like-minded, passionate people to work alongside her. Their first clinic, scheduled for September 10, will be held at Temple United Methodist Church in San Francisco, Calif.
A Rocky Road for Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Momentum seems to be building as President Obama advances his goal to establish Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) this year. Senator Charles Schumer, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security, said that an immigration bill would be ready to begin the process of becoming a law by Labor Day.
A recent brief by the Brookings Institution asserts that the current political landscape in the US makes CIR much more likely to occur in the near future than in the past. The brief finds hope in factors such as the growing power of the Latino population, the growing realization among divergent constituents – including unions, employers, laborers, farmers, and businesses – that the current system is not working; and Obama’s popularity and willingness to tackle tough problems.
However, the way forward is far from smooth. In early July, a series of Senate floor votes that sought to toughen immigration enforcement gave the Obama administration its first real taste of the chilly climate for overhauling immigration laws.
Among these votes was the decision to make the E-Verify system, which reviews an employee’s immigration status using their immigration records and social security number, a permanent and mandatory program for all government contractors beginning September 8, 2009. The senate also overturned Obama’s decision to rescind the no-match rule (aimed at forcing employers to fire workers who are unable to resolve discrepancies in their Social Security records). They also voted for a series of immigration-related amendments to the annual Department of Homeland Security spending bill including one that mandates the construction of 700 miles of border fencing along the Mexican border.
August Designated Month of Action
It is imperative that immigrant advocates make their voices heard at this crucial time. Although, the most recent 2009 figures in a Pew Research Center survey demonstrate that nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans favor a “path to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, anti-reform advocates are much more vocal.
August has been designated as a “Month of Action for Immigration Reform ” by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC). The IIC has created an online resource to help you plan an event geared at working with the community and your members of Congress to get comprehensive immigration reform enacted.
Four things you can do this month:
- Call your senators to let them know that you support comprehensive immigration reform! Contact the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to be directly connected to your senators.
- Host a screening of “Made in LA” – a feature documentary that follows the remarkable story of three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles garment sweatshops. Use this film to jumpstart a dialogue about immigrant issues.
- Plan a prayer vigil or town hall meeting to uplift the need for CIR that focuses on reuniting families and protecting human rights.
- Hold neighbor-to-neighbor meetings with your representatives to gain an understanding of where they stand on the issue; ensure they know where the faith community stands on CIR; build relationships, and get a commitment to support CIR.
- Emergency Response
- Immigration and Refugees
- Sager Brown Depot
- UMCOR Field Offices
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Miguel Silva and his wife fled Honduras and entered the US in 1998 to escape the devastation of Hurricane Mitch. In January 1999, the US extended Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Hondurans and El Salvadorans who had been displaced because of the devastating effects of Hurricane Mitch to Central America. Recently, the US Department of State decided to extend the TPS program until July 2010 after determining that Honduras still has not recovered to a degree that would enable them to handle the return of their nationals.
When the Silvas came to the US, they settled in New Orleans and following Hurricane Katrina, resettled in Eastern Iowa. They applied for and benefited from TPS each year since 1999.
When Miguel applied to renew his TPS application this past year, he learned that he would be denied TPS based on their belief that Mr. Silva had four criminal convictions on his record. Miguel had 30 days to respond to the allegations before they would revoke his TPS.
By getting a copy of Mr. Silva court records, JFON was able to prove that USCIS was basing their denial on a single drunk driving conviction in 1998 which was dismissed. Miguel had reported this conviction each time he applied to renew his TPS status. JFON wrote a legal brief to Immigration explaining this error and proving that Miguel was entitled to renew his TPS status. Recently, Miguel informed JFON that his TPS status was reinstated.