JFON Network Update
Bay Area JFON Successfully Launched
On Thursday Sept. 9th, the California-Nevada Annual Conference opened a Justice for Our Neighbors clinic at Temple United Methodist Church (UMC) in San Francisco. 25 volunteers from Temple UMC and Laurel UMC worked together to welcome and serve their first 9 clients.
The seeds for this JFON project were planted over 5 years ago but laid dormant until last summer when a college student, Lupe Afu, interned with JFON Baltimore-Washington through GBGM’s summer internship program. During her 8 week internship, she caught a vision for JFON and returned home determined to get her church involved. Between juggling her studies and work, Lupe managed to bring together a group of like-minded, passionate people to work alongside her.
The Bay Area JFON has engaged numerous high school and college students not only as volunteers but also in leadership roles. According to one of these young idealists, JFON has shown her that she can make a positive difference in people’s lives – even as a student with limited resources and experience. 1 Timothy 4:12 says: “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” Thank you, Lupe, for setting a great example to those around you.
JFON TN Volunteer Attorney Receives Award
Spring Miller, a volunteer attorney and board member with JFON Tennessee, received the New Advocate of the Year award from the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. This award was given to her primarily for her work with JFON clients and her efforts in response to the Chattanooga workplace raid last Spring. Congratulations Spring and thanks for all that you do!
A JFON Volunteer’s Life Touched – Pharr, TX
“I wanted to say how rewarding helping out (at the monthly JFON clinic) has become to me. By the time we get finished gathering the spouse and kids info, as well as parents, grandparents, etc. (during an intake), each client becomes someone I feel I know to a certain extent. Each one wants to become ‘documented’ and hopefully this process helps them accomplish that. Way too many of us humans have a bad habit of forgetting to count our blessings as the days go by.” – Ruth Ann Ferris
JFON W. MI Advocates for CIR
Over 170 people attended a community forum on immigration reform hosted by the West Michigan Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform – of which JFON W. MI is an integral participant. The forum featured music from local musicians, speakers from many sectors of the community and an information table. Read more.
They will also host two events in October featuring Dr. Miguel de la Torre, author of "Trails of Hope and Terror - Testimonies of Immigration." He will speak about the current immigration policy debate and Christian ethics surrounding the issue. Dr. de la Torre is the son of an undocumented immigrant and is now a U.S. Citizen and a professor of Christian ethics.
The Coalition has developed a House Party Kit to help plan events to educate the public on the issues with the current immigration policies and engage them in advocacy. The kit includes: a 10 minute video, a discussion guide with a resource to support the discussion, materials to make your voice count, and directions to host the party. You can download the materials from their website. Also, watch JFON MI Regional Attorney, Liz Balck, speak about our work and the need for CIR.
Immigrant Integration Awards
The Migration Policy Institute is accepting applications for E Pluribus Unum Prizes for exceptional initiatives that promote immigrant integration. The awards are intended to recognize exceptional initiatives that help immigrants and their children adapt, thrive, and contribute to the United States or that bring immigrants and the native born together to build stronger, more cohesive communities. Four $50,000 prizes will be awarded to successful applicants. Apply here.
NC Colleges To Reverse Course And Accept Undocumented Students
North Carolina State Board of Community College voted 16-1 to change its policy and allow undocumented immigrants to enroll in the state’s two-year community colleges. Among other restrictions, undocumented students will need to pay out-of-state tuition. According to a news report, “[t]he country's third-largest community college system has changed its illegal immigrant admission policy four times since 2000.”
New Orleans Mayor Nagin Welcomes Undocumented Workers
Mayor Ray Nagin and New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley have joined a national effort by a group called the Law Enforcement Engagement Initiative encouraging comprehensive immigration reform in the US. "We want to say that you're welcome in New Orleans… [and] from a law enforcement perspective, we want to make sure that whatever happens, you're treated fairly, you're treated as any other citizen of this community,” said Mayor Nagin.
Report Shows American Middle Class Needs Immigrants
Principles for an Immigration Policy to Strengthen and Expand the American Middle Class: 2009 Edition, by the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy states that the “American middle class relies on the economic contributions of immigrants both authorized and undocumented.” At the same time, however, the exploitation of undocumented immigrant workers “threatens to drive labor standards down for current and aspiring middle-class workers.” The report recommends two litmus tests for immigration policy that will help nurture the American middle class: 1) the policy must bolster the critical contribution of immigrants and 2) it must strengthen the rights of immigrants in the workplace.
Museums Take on Immigration Debate with Exhibits
With little progress on immigration reform among lawmakers, the nationwide debate has entered a new space: museums.
A network of 13 U.S. museums launched a program that aims to grapple with tough questions on immigration, including who should have access to health care, how borders should be controlled, and issues of citizenship and identity. The purpose is to foster new conversation among diverse groups of visitors about immigration – past and present.
Immigration Sites of Conscience are distinguished by their commitment to:
• interpreting histories of immigrants and immigration, helping visitors connect current immigration with past waves;
• hosting public dialogues among diverse constituencies on the most urgent local and national questions; and offering
• participants opportunities to become involved in shaping the issues that concern them most.
The idea is to get leaders and activists talking to each other in locations connected to history to figure out how to achieve reform, said Liz Sevcenko, director of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience.
For a list of participating museums, click here.
- Emergency Response
- Immigration and Refugees
- Sager Brown Depot
- UMCOR Field Offices
Grand Rapids, MI
After their parents died, Carlos* brought his younger sister, Martina Castellanos* to the United States from Toluca, Mexico when she was eight-years old.
Years later, Martina met and married a U.S. citizen, Geraldo*, who was physically and emotionally abusive. At one point, he told her that she would be better off dead.
Martina came to JFON-Grand Rapids, MI, in 2008 very meek, quiet, fearful and suicidal. JFON helped Martina gather the necessary proof to file a VAWA self-petition. In preparing her VAWA application, Martina wrote story after story about how she had been traumatized by her husband and how he would constantly threaten her with deportation if she reported the abuse.
By showing that Martina and Geraldo had entered into their marriage in good faith, her I-130 application was soon approved. Martina began to worry as she waited for USCIS to schedule her I-485 (adjustment to lawful permanent residence) interview. She had two arrests that occurred when Geraldo – after attacking Martina – called the police and reported her as the aggressor. JFON worked with Martina to help her explain the arrests and to use them to show the degree of abuse and manipulation she had endured over the years.
Martina’s first arrest occurred late one night when Geraldo, in a drunken rage, kicked Martina and their 7 year old son out of the house. When she attempted to rescue their 7 month old baby, he shoved her against the wall. She was able to get one arm free and hit him in self defense. Martina pled not guilty and an order of nolle prosequi (a Latin phrase that means “not to pursue”) was entered and the charges were dropped.
The second arrest happened after Geraldo awakened Martina in the middle of the night, jumped on top of her and pinned her down. During the ensuing scuffle, Martina scratched his face several times. He then called the police and had Martina arrested a second time. Two weeks before the pre-trial, Martina got a restraining order against Geraldo. In retaliation, he would not allow Martina to see their children unless she moved in with him again. He also told her that if she moved to a domestic violence shelter, a judge would not allow her to keep their children. She later learned that she would not be charged with anything.
Earlier this month, Martina went to her adjustment appointment in Detroit. The officer was more than satisfied with our explanation of why she had two domestic violence arrests and her green card application was approved. Martina was overjoyed by the news and smiled from ear to ear. She walked out of the USCIS office full of confidence and independence – quite a change from the Martina JFON met a few years ago.
*not their real names