JFON Network Update
NYAC-JFON Challenges Church Leaders
More than 60 church leaders, participated in a Leader Training Workshop in New York City on April 22 hosted by NYAC-JFON. The daylong training, which was made possible by a General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) Ethnic Local Church Grant, gave direction to church leaders to educate congregations and the immigrants in their communities about immigrants’ rights and the complex legal process.
Workshop participants, who came from more than 30 churches and community organizations, were challenged to consider ways they as leaders could move immigration reform forward not by merely sharing facts and statistics but by sharing stories and building relationships that move hearts.
The training equipped participants with the tools they needed to preach sermons, teach Sunday school lessons, and offer workshops or seminars focused on immigrant justice issues. It also provided information on how church leaders might engage their congregants in advocacy and service to immigrants. Read more.
TN JFON Hires Attorney
In February, TN JFON hired Adrienne Schlichtemier as Regional Attorney. Adrienne, a recent graduate of Vanderbilt Law School, has worked part-time with TN JFON since September 2009 as part of Vanderbilt’s Public Service Initiative. The program offers recent graduates a six-month stipend and places them at nonprofit organizations that otherwise would be unable to hire someone straight out of a leading law school.
Graduates work part-time for a charity or government agency and spend the rest of their time networking and job hunting. For Adrienne, though, the part-time job turned out to be the career she wanted, and when the stipend ran out at the end of February, TN JFON hired her full time.
"This is basically my dream job, straight out of college,” said Adrienne. “A lot of our clients have very hard stories. To help them get work permits and legal status is a huge, life-changing thing. It's been such a privilege."
Ground Zero Arizona
April 19 the Arizona state legislature passed S.B. 1070 and Gov. Jan Brewer signed the bill into law April 24. Opponents marched on the Arizona State Capitol and called for a boycott of travel to and business with the state. The American Immigration Lawyers Association protested the law by moving the AILA’s fall conference from Scottsdale, AZ, to a new location.
Among many things, the Arizona law :
- Permits law enforcement officers to verify the citizenship of anyone they have a “reasonable suspicion” of not possessing lawful immigration status
- Provides a reporting mechanism that will allow anyone to file a complaint alleging that an employer has hired an undocumented immigrant
- Permits any person or entity to file a lawsuit against an agency or officer that restricts or limits immigration enforcement
- Makes it a crime for anyone to be present in public or private space in Arizona without an immigration document or to fail to notify the Immigration Service of her/his change of address.
President Barack Obama denounced the law and said it threatens to “undermine basic notions of fairness.” Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon wrote an op-ed piece in The Washington Post, in which he said the law was the product of small-mindedness and hate.
Late Thursday, amid growing threats of lawsuits, Gov. Brewer signed H.B. 2162 into law, the bill is a trailer bill to S.B. 1070 which strengthens the states position that the new law will not allow for racial profiling. Read More.
The Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church posts important information outlining what S.B. 1070 does and does not do. The Conference’s conclusion is key: “Supporters of S.B. 1070 contend the law will do two things: 1) address the question of drug violence along Arizona’s southern border and 2) make Arizona’s neighborhoods safer. It will do neither.”
JOIN THE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH FOR MOTHER’S DAY ACTIONS
The General Board of Church and Society has available materials for immigration-focused activities to celebrate Mother’s Day. The materials highlight the importance of keeping families together and demonstrate how current immigration law does the opposite. For materials and action plan, please contact Alice Mar at email@example.com for further details.
- Emergency Response
- Immigration and Refugees
- Sager Brown Depot
- UMCOR Field Offices
Omaha, Nebraska: Protecting a Victim of Abuse
Victoria* was brought to the United States from Mexico by her sexually abusive father, Ernesto*, after she became pregnant with his child. Ernesto forced her to lie to family and friends and tell them the child’s father was a boyfriend in Mexico. After she gave birth to a son, Jonathan*, who was diagnosed with autism at an early age, the abuse continued.
Ernesto threatened to kill Victoria if she revealed the abuse to anyone. Finally, though, she found the courage to tell her family the truth. The family was so outraged they reported the abuse to the police, and after a lengthy trial, Ernesto was sentenced to 20 years in the Nebraska State Penitentiary.
Because Victoria had cooperated in her father’s prosecution, she was eligible to apply for a U visa. This visa gives victims of certain crimes temporary legal status and allows them to work in the United States for up to four years. Only 10,000 nonimmigrant U visas may be issued each fiscal year.
JFON assisted Victoria when she submitted her application for the U visa in January 2008. A year and a half later, JFON responded to a Request for Evidence from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and Victoria’s U visa was approved in December. Eventually, Victoria will be eligible to apply for adjustment of status to that of legal permanent resident.
Helping a Child
Nadia* and her younger sister Amber* left Honduras to join their mother Maya*, who lived and worked in Nebraska to support the family. Maya had been granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) after a series of hurricanes devastated Honduras.
At first, it was like a dream come true to have the family reunited. But over time, Nadia’s relationship with her mother deteriorated. Soon Nadia became a ward of the state because Maya was unable to properly care for her.
Over the next several years, Nadia was sent to one foster home after another. At one of the placements, she was sexually abused by a foster parent. Although she was removed from the home, she suffered psychological problems stemming from the abuse.
In 2002, Nadia, then only 11 years old, was ordered removed from the US and sent back to Honduras. She sought assistance from JFON in 2006. After reviewing the case, JFON determined that although Nadia could not legally obtain benefits from her mother, she might be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), which helps certain undocumented children in the state juvenile system become legal permanent residents.
When JFON submitted the application, immigration law required that in order to qualify for SIJS the juvenile had to be abused, abandoned, or neglected by one of the parents and eligible, therefore, for long-term foster care. JFON undertook the difficult process of seeking an order from the state judge certifying that Nadia met the requirements.
The matter was complicated by the fact that Nadia had been in removal proceedings for nearly four years, and her lengthy SIJS interview further prolonged the process.
After the SIJS application finally was approved JFON filed Nadia’s application for legal permanent residency and requested that the immigration judge terminate her removal proceedings. Nadia presented herself for an interview in February 2010 and, after such a long wait, her residency application was approved that same day.
*not their real names