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

First Monday

September 2009

JFON Network Update

JFON NY and IA Host Made In LA Screenings

In partnership with JFON UMCOR, United Methodist Women, and the NYAC Immigration Task Force, JFON NY hosted two screenings of Made In LA at the Interchurch Center. Approximately 60 people attended the screenings and many expressed their intent to host screenings at their local churches or communities.

Made in LA

More than 50 people attended the screening of Made in LA hosted by JFON IA on August 24th at Grace United Methodist Church in Des Moines, IA. The screening was followed by small discussion groups where everyone was encouraged to write letters in support of comprehensive immigration reform as well as the Reuniting Families and Dream acts.

These events were great venues for highlighting not only the work of JFON on behalf of immigrants and the need for comprehensive immigration reform but also the strength of immigrants in the face of injustice and difficulties.

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

JFON N/C TX Plans Series of Advocacy Events

JFON Dallas / Fort Worth has planned a series of events in conjunction with “The Month of Action,” a nationwide effort led by people of faith calling on their elected officials to enact comprehensive immigration reform this year.

Their month of action began on August 23rd when JFON Dallas / Fort Worth co-hosted “Moral Voices United for Immigration Reform: Tour of the Faithful,” an interfaith prayer vigil at Lovers Lane UMC in Dallas, Tx.

“Immigration and Faith” will be held on Saturday, September 19th, 2009, at Arapaho UMC in Richardson, TX. The symposium will provide attendees with an overview of current immigration laws and will feature workshops on the biblical mandate to welcome the sojourner, the social and economic contexts of unauthorized immigration, the principles of congregations in ministry among immigrants; and basic principles of advocacy. The symposium will be followed by an afternoon screening and discussion of the documentary “Made in L.A.”

On September 21st, Aledo United Methodist Church will host an Evening with Sonia Nazario, the author of UMW Reading Program book, Enrique’s Journey. Based on the Los Angeles Times newspaper series that won two Pulitzer Prizes, Enrique’s Journey is the timeless story of families torn apart and a boy who will risk his life to find the mother he loves.

Polytechnic UMC will host “An Evening of Compassion” on Sunday, September 27th, 2009. The evening will consist of a prayer vigil, a screening of Made in L.A., and a session about equipping advocates for action.

Advocacy Update

Follow-up to “Made in L.A.” – Exploitation of Immigrant Workers Continues….

The documentary ”Made in L.A.” depicts the exploitation of immigrant workers in a garment factory in L.A. a few years ago. In a similar story, a group of workers in Las Vegas filed a lawsuit against a cleaning contractor, Bravo Pro Maintenance, saying they were forced to work long hours for less than minimum wage and without permission for days off. Bravo Pro Maintenance has cleaning contracts with posh businesses such as Cathouse, Luxor, and Trader Vic’s at Planet Hollywood.

The workers’ attorney, Matthew Callister, says the company held its mostly-Mexican workforce in a form of “indentured servitude,” squeezing more labor out of frustrated workers by promising to make them whole one day. Many tired of waiting and quit. Others, undocumented and desperate for work, remain silent.

Can a Mother Lose Her Baby because She Does Not Speak English?

The answer appears to be “yes” in Mississippi. Cirila Baltazar Cruz, a migrant from Oaxaca, gave birth to her daughter, Rubi, at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, MS, last November. The hospital “called the state Department of Human Services (DHS), which ruled that Baltazar Cruz was an unfit mother in part because her lack of English ‘placed her unborn child in danger and will place the baby in danger in the future.’”

Rubí was taken from Baltazar Cruz, who now faces deportation. In May, a Jackson County judge gave the infant to a couple (it is unclear if for foster care or adoptive purposes) who reportedly live in Ocean Springs. Baltazar Cruz is challenging the ruling in Jackson County Youth Court and hopes that if she is deported she can at least take Rubí back to Mexico with her.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform – Will It Happen without Sen. Kennedy?

With the passing of Sen. Edward Kennedy, the country lost a leader not only for health care reform but also for immigration reform. While Democrats in Congress are busy pushing health care reform forward in honor of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, some believe that passing immigration reform would also be a fitting tribute to the stalwart liberal.

With Congress busy over the health care bill, the most optimistic view is that discussion of immigration reform may start in 2010.