JFON Network Update
Orlando JFON Clinic relocates
The Orlando JFON Clinic was transferred officially to Aloma United Methodist Church on June 8, 2010. JFON Florida thanks Berea United Methodist Haitian Mission and First United Methodist Church, Pine Hills, for hosting the JFON clinic for the past five years.
Mayuris Pimentel, Florida regional attorney, and JFON Program Manager Alice Mar trained more than 10 JFON volunteers, including new and seasoned volunteers, for the program.
JFON SE Michigan Hires Regional Attorney
Established just six months ago, JFON Southeastern Michigan (JFON SEMI) has hired a full-time regional attorney. This allows JFON SEMI to serve more clients and perhaps open two additional clinics in the Detroit Annual Conference.
The attorney, Ellie Levine, graduated with honors in 2009 from University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers' Association, the Michigan Immigrant Rights Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union.
The United Methodist Church’s Position on Immigration
While the country is debating immigration issues, United Methodists may find the following church resources helpful:
From The Social Principle, ¶162.III.H:
We recognize, embrace, and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God. We affirm the right of all persons to equal opportunities for employment, access to housing, health care, education, and freedom from social discrimination. We urge the Church and society to recognize the gifts, contributions, and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all.From The Book of Resolutions, No. 3281:
To refuse to welcome migrants to this country and to stand by in silence while families are separated, individual freedoms are ignored, and the migrant community in the United States is demonized by members of Congress and the media, is complicity to sin.Bishops urge action on immigration reform (UMR article May 14, 2010 ):
United Methodist leaders are training laity and clergy to have conversations on immigration. Pastors are encouraged to set aside particular Sundays to preach on immigration justice.
The White House on Immigration
On June 28, President Barack Obama met with labor leaders and immigration advocates and pledged continued commitment to comprehensive immigration reform. In a July 1 speech devoted entirely to immigration issues , President Obama advocated strengthening border security and building a path to citizenship for the country’s 11 million undocumented immigrants.
However, the prospects for immigration reform this year continue to look bleak. Some immigrant advocates hope smaller measures, such as the DREAM Act and AgJobs, may be approved. Read More.
In addition, the government filed a lawsuit July 6, seeking an injunction against Arizona law SB 1070 and citing constitutional limitations of states’ authority in immigration legislation. A hearing is set for July 22.
Join the Borderlinks Delegation to Arizona
Bill Mefford, Director, Civil and Human Rights at the General Board of Church and Society, invites you to join him at the Borderlinks delegation to the Arizona border July 26-31, 2010 – the same week in which SB 1070 is supposed to go into effect. The week will include conversations with those deeply affected by immigration policies such as migrant workers and employees of Border Patrol and ICE; a visit to the border wall; an opportunity to observe federal deportation court proceedings; and a chance to serve by recovering migrant belongings in the desert.
GCBS seeks individuals who can take this experience back to their annual conferences and energize their task forces and committees around this to join them at this event. Delegates may be required to raise funds to cover their expenses. For more information, contact Bill Mefford at email@example.com
Around the Country
The attorney general is considering an agreement with Mexico to create a state program that allows undocumented workers to work legally in Utah. Read More.
The governor has signed a measure into law that would require the state's jailers to determine whether inmates are in the country illegally and report them if they are. Read more.
Florida became the 23rd state to agree to participate in ICE’s “Secure Communities” program, which requires that police check inmates’ fingerprints against ICE records to identify and deport immigrants convicted of crimes. Read More.
Immigrants have started an exodus from Arizona and the state is feeling a pinch. Latinos represent a huge and fast-growing market, accounting for 16 percent of all purchases in the state, or $31 billion in spending, says a report by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Read More.
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In 1992, Mario Vargas*, 20, fled to the US from Guatemala, where he had spent his youth in an environment of civil war and massive human rights violations. When Mario was 17, both the Guatemalan Army and guerrillas tried to recruit him, but he refused. When he was threatened with death, all protection was denied him, and he fled the country.
Mario settled in California where he found a community of expatriates who also had left the country because of the civil war. Among them was Consuelo Arriaza*, whom he had known as a child.
Consuelo, too, had witnessed many tragic events in Guatemala and had lost family members to the war. An uncle and his family, for instance, were suspected of sympathizing with the guerrillas and were burned alive. The Arriaza family fled Guatemala in 1984 and settled in Los Angeles.
Mario and Consuelo married in Los Angeles in 1995. Their five U.S.-citizen children all do well in school, but each has chronic medical issues that affect their everyday lives. These range from asthma, severe back pain, and hemophilia to Torticollis, a condition in which the head is tilted toward one side and the chin is elevated and turned toward the opposite side and which requires physical therapy.
Both Mario and Consuelo were in removal proceedings when they came to JFON Omaha in 2007. If they were to be deported, they would either have to take the children with them to Guatemala, where they would be unable to obtain proper medical attention for them, or leave them in the US without either parent and under someone else’s care.
JFON agreed to represent Mario and Consuelo in court and filed a request to terminate deportation proceedings based on the extreme hardship it would cause their children. At their immigration hearing May 5, the judge granted their applications. Soon they will receive their green cards. This good news has given them and their family hope and a vision for the future!
*not their real names