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

First Monday

December 2009

JFON Network Update

JFON Dallas / Ft. Worth hosts Immigration Symposiums

JFON Dallas/Ft. Worth recently convened Immigration and Faith Symposiums at churches in both the North Texas and Central Texas Annual Conferences. The first was held in the North Texas Conference on September 19th at Arapaho UMC in Richardson, Texas. The second was held in the Central Texas Conference on November 7th in Granbury, Texas at Acton UMC.

Immigration and Faith Symposium

The symposiums examined the issue of immigration from a faith perspective while providing an opportunity to dialogue about the church’s response. JFON attorney Mary Beth Garcia was the plenary speaker on both occasions and gave a presentation entitled, “Immigration 101: An overview of our immigration laws.” Participants had the opportunity to learn about the complex immigration system and ask questions of the experienced attorney.

The plenary sessions were followed by workshops covering a variety of topics, including: Biblical Reflections: Welcoming the sojourner; Why Enrique Journeys: The social and economic contexts of unauthorized immigration; Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors: Congregations in ministry among Immigrants; and Making Our Voices Heard: Basic principles of advocacy.

These symposiums were funded in large by a grant from JFON-UMCOR.

JFON Florida Relocates Clinic

JFON Fl is relocating their Tampa Bay clinic from Tampa to Clearwater – across the Bay. Started in fall 2006, the JFON clinic at Faith Community Haitian Mission met for the last time in October.

The new clinic at Union Street United Methodist Church in Clearwater is jointly sponsored by three groups: Union Street UMC, UM Cooperative Ministries, and Light of Hope Hispanic Mission. This site was chosen based on Union Street’s long history of service to immigrants as well as their long-term commitment to JFON. Although Union Street held their first JFON clinic in November using previously trained volunteers who served at Faith Community, the clinic will officially move in early 2010.

JFON FL thanks Faith Community Haitian Mission for their support of JFON and looks forward to continuing to partner with them to serve the Haitian community in Tampa. They especially thank Frieda and Arthur Mosley, the Clinic Coordinators, and the volunteers for all their help and support to make the Tampa clinic a success.

JFON SW TX Finds Regional Attorney

Join us in welcoming Jack E. Grayer to the JFON family. Jack joins us through the Individual Volunteer Program -- which is a GBGM program that places full-time missionary volunteers in various ministries for between two months and two years. Jack’s first JFON clinic in Pharr will be this Saturday, Dec. 12th.

Jack received his BS from the University of Washington at Seattle, his MS from Pennsylvania State University at King Prussia, and his JD from Villanova Law School. A member of the Pennsylvania Bar, Jack’s legal experience emphasized bankruptcy, criminal and domestic relations. Prior to entering the legal field, Jack was variously employed as a computer programmer, systems analyst for several NASA, USAF, and US Army contracts. He was on active military duty from 1965 to 1967. Originally from Seattle Washington, Jack is married to Susan and they have two adult children.


Advocacy Update

JFON friends are invited to join the Interfaith Immigration Coalition for Grassroots Actions: Now through MARCH 22 with the General Board of Church and Society

Monthly National Faith and Immigration Conference Call: held the first Monday of every month. Call today (Dec. 7) at 4:00PM. 800-920-7487 and the code is 76723736.

February 2010 will be a month for prayer vigils. Consider planning an interfaith prayer vigil to highlight the faith community’s commitment to just immigration reform. For information on how to organize a vigil, click here.

National Interfaith Rally for Comprehensive Immigration Reform is scheduled for March 22, 2010 on the Mall in Washington DC. In coordination with the Ecumenical Advocacy Days Conference during the weekend of March 19-21, which is focusing on migration, thousands of people of faith will gather on the Mall in Washington DC to signal support for comprehensive immigration reform. For more information visit the IIC website.

Immigrants in Your State

Do you know that immigrants make up 3.9% of the population in Iowa and more than one-third are naturalized U.S. citizens? That one in five Floridians is an immigrant and that Latinos own one out of every six businesses in that state? That Latinos and Asians account for nearly 5% of Tennesseans and wield $7.8 billion in consumer purchasing power? See a snapshot of the political and economic power of immigrants, Latinos, and Asians in your state at. The Fiscal Policy Institute’s new report on immigrant contribution to the GDP in the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. finds that the growth of immigrants in the labor force parallels economic growth.

New Arizona Law Rattles Immigrant Community

A new Arizona law, HB 2008, requires state’s social workers to report to immigration authorities any undocumented immigrants who seek pubic benefits such as food stamps – even though such benefits were sought on behalf of U.S. citizen children. Any social worker who fails to make such report could face up to four months in jail. The law also gives taxpayers the right to sue a state or city agency if they believe the law is not enforced properly.

Since Arizona’s HB 2008 was passed in an irregular manner – it was a provision passed in a budget negotiation in a special session – it is currently being challenged.

Border Patrol Pays $48,000 to Settle Wrongful Arrest of Immigrant

In 2006, Isabel Valencia-Perez of Mount Vernon, WA, was waiting for his 6-year-old son at a bus stop when two men in civilian clothes stopped their car and asked him questions about his immigration status. The men were a border patrol agent and an elected official from Ferndale City, WA. When Valencia-Perez started to run away, the two men grabbed and beat him. Details and developments in the case raised many questions. The FBI started a civil rights investigation and local authorities considered filing charges against the two men. Although no charges will be filed and no disciplinary action has been taken, the government decided to settle the civil damage suit filed by Valencia-Perez. 

 Pastor Urges Us to Follow Martin Luther King's Guidance on Immigration Reform

Pastor Clemmons of Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Houston urges us to be like King and see Christ in all who suffer injustice.

“King's vision (for racial equality) included more than justice for black folk. His vision included all God's children, red and yellow, black and white. King's vision and struggles are important to remember as serious conversations about immigration reform are again beginning to brew, as indicated by the remarks last month of Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano at the Center for American Progress. Though the conversation concerning immigration in America is more ancient than King, King's vision provides a helpful tool with which to view the immigration struggle today. Immigration is about human dignity and the nobility of parents of different tribes and nations facing the risk of coming to a foreign land, a land of opportunity, to work for a better tomorrow for their children.” Read More.