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

First Monday

November 2009

JFON Network Update

JFON NY Receives grant from GBCS

JFON NY is the proud recipient of a $10,000 Ethnic Local Church Grant from the General Board of Church and Society. The funds will be used to host Know-your-Rights seminars, expand and train their volunteer base, and host an immigration seminar targeting pastors and lay leaders.

The purpose of the GBCS Ethnic Local Church Grants (ELCG) Program is to provide grants to strengthen the ethnic local church through education, advocacy, or leadership training and development as they engage in social justice. More information and applications can be found on the GBCS website. The next application deadline is in early January 2010.

Trina Scott-Zuor and Amy Spaur Commissioned

Amy and Trina celebrate commissioningOn Oct. 13, 2009, Trina and Amy were commissioned as Church and Community Worker missionaries of the United Methodist Church at a service during the annual meeting of directors of the General Board of Global Ministries, the mission agency of the denomination. View via webcast.

Although both have been serving as CCWs for over a year, this commissioning is especially meaningful. To "commission" a missionary or deaconess (or home missioner, the male counterpart) is for the church to recognize God's special call and to bless and "send" that person to carry the good news of God's love into the world. It takes place through prayer and the "laying on of hands" in an ancient Christian ritual.

Trina is one of JFON Iowa’s Regional Attorneys serving clients through the clinics in western Iowa located in Storm Lake and Des Moines. Amy serves as the Volunteer and Outreach Coordinator for JFON Dallas-Fort Worth.

JFON W. MI Hosts Two Education Events

West Michigan EventJFON West MI hosted two events in October featuring Dr. Miguel de la Torre, author of "Trails of Hope and Terror - Testimonies of Immigration." De la Torre’s presentation focused on the history of immigration specifically in the area of how economic policy has shaped our nation’s immigration policies. He also spoke about the social ethics of the manner in which we are currently handling those crossing our borders as well as those already caught on this side of the border.

In total, the events attracted 110 people and raised over $6,000.


Advocacy Update

Clergy's Role Grows in Migrant Discussion

As more than 2,500 immigrants rallied at the Capitol in support of comprehensive immigration reform, Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño of Arizona told the crowd it could count on her and other religious leaders for support. "We truly are with you," she said "and we believe that God is on your side too."

But just which side God is on has increasingly become the subject of debate as both sides bring religious leaders to the nation's capital. Philip Williams, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida views the anti-immigration advocates’ engagement in religious debate as “an indication that they see the power of the moral argument as more persuasive than the legal argument."

For readings on both sides of the debate, see A Biblical Perspective on Immigration Policy, Loving Thy Neighbor, Sojourner’s sermon resources, and an Immigration Study produced by the Desert Southwest Annual Conference.

Breaking Down the Problems: What's Wrong With our Immigration System

Read a report by the Immigration Policy Center (IPC) that looks at the impact our immigration system is having on our nation and discusses the failures of the system under two broad categories: structural failure and inadequate responses.

"To accomplish genuine reform, we must understand that immigration is about more than the 11-12 million people living without status in our country" said Mary Giovagnoli, Director of the IPC. "That group is a symptom of our failure to create an immigration system that works for the needs of America. It is time to shift the terms of the debate. We need to begin a discussion about what living without a functional immigration system has done to our nation over the last 20 years. We need to begin to ask the question: how is it in all our interests to reform immigration?"

Visit IPC’s website to read a series of solution-oriented papers available in the coming weeks.

Chicago’s Olympic Loss: Is Passport Control to Blame?

Did Chicago lose the chance to host the 2016 Olympics because of airport security issues? Among the toughest questions posed to the Chicago bid team this week in Copenhagen was one that raised the issue of what kind of welcome foreigners would get from airport officials when they arrived in this country to attend the Games. Syed Shahid Ali, an I.O.C. member from Pakistan, in the question-and-answer session following Chicago’s official presentation, pointed out that entering the United States can be “a rather harrowing experience.”

Immigration Movies

Searching for a casual way to introduce the issues surrounding immigration to your friends and family? Consider hosting a movie night. There are, of course, classics like Green Card, Coming to America, Maria Full of Grace, El Norte or Real Women Have Curves. However, if you’re interested in something more recent, in the past two years or so there has been a veritable avalanche of films that touch on the issue.

7 Soles, which depicts the plight of a group of migrants crossing the Sonoran desert, helps viewers better understand the sheer horror some immigrants are willing to endure to come to this country.

Crossing Over, starring Harrison Ford as an ICE officer, is about immigrants of several nationalities struggling to achieve legal status in Los Angeles. The film deals with border issues, document fraud, the asylum and green card process, work-site enforcement, and the clash of cultures.

Goodbye Solo is the story of an unlikely friendship between Solo, a struggling but happy cab driver from Senegal, and William, a tormented southern man with secrets.

El Nacional, is the story about four children and their adult brother as they desperately race across Texas for survival. They are running because their parents, undocumented for 30 years, were caught, arrested and thrown in jail in one fell swoop. Deportation is only a matter of time.

Letters From The Other Side interweaves video letters carried across the U.S./Mexico border by the film's director, with the personal stories of women and families left behind in post-NAFTA Mexico.

Los Trabajadores is a documentary that follows the lives of immigrants Ramon and Juan, and the controversy surrounding the day labor center where they wait for work each day.

Sin Nombre follows Sayra, a Honduran teen, and El Caspar, a former Mexican gang member, on an odyssey across the Latin American countryside en route to the US. Together they must rely on faith, trust and street smarts if they are to survive their increasingly perilous journey towards the hope of new lives.

Under the Same Moon/La Misma Luna is a Spanish-language film that chronicles the story of a boy who crosses the Mexican/US border to reunite with his mother who is living in Los Angeles.

The Visitor is about a professor whose life is changed by his relationship with an undocumented immigrant who is subsequently placed in detention pending deportation.

For a more comprehensive list, click here.