JFON Network Update
JFON Model Change: What has Been Happening and What to Expect
Throughout 2010, Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) reported on the restructuring process that is under way, propelled by the JFON network’s spectacular growth in recent years. JFON’s parent organization, the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), initiated the process in order to build a structure to manage that growth, with its accompanying resource demands and potential liabilities.
The working group that was formed during a fall meeting of JFON stakeholders, JFON national staff, UMCOR leadership, and outside counsel is currently refining documents that will be used to incorporate a new entity, likely to be called National JFON. The group is outlining a division of roles and responsibilities among National JFON, UMCOR, and local JFONs. It will next review proposals that address quality control of the legal work, including oversight and support for local JFON attorneys.
Thoughts, ideas, and suggestions are welcome. Please email Alice Mar at Amar@gbgm-umc.org. They will be brought to the working group for consideration.
2010 IN REVIEW
In 2010, the JFON network added two new regions: Southeast Michigan and North Carolina. JFON projects in New York, Florida, and Southeast Michigan were chosen to receive significant grants from the General Commission on Religion and Race. In October, JFON was one of UMCOR’s projects highlighted in the Advance’s 10-Fold Campaign, garnering nearly 4,000 advocates for immigration ministry.
Last year, JFON said goodbye to three regional attorneys and welcomed their replacements. The JFON clinic at South Presbyterian Church in Yonkers, NY, closed its doors in the fall. JFON Baltimore-Washington D.C. is reorganizing and will be administered during 2011 by Emory Beacon of Light, a neighborhood ministry of Emory United Methodist Church.
JFON LEADERSHIP SUMMIT TO BE HELD IN NASHVILLE, Tenn., APRIL 14 – 17, 2011
The JFON Leadership Summit originally scheduled for 2010 was postponed and will be held, instead, April 14 – 17, 2011. The meeting will begin on the evening of April 14, and will be followed by two full-day trainings and workshops. The national office will provide a travel grant of $200 to each clinic to support the clinic coordinators’ participation at the meeting. Proposals and suggestions of workshops and training sessions are welcome and may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Human Trafficking Awareness Day – Jan. 11, 2011
A resolution passed by the US Senate in 2007 marks January 11 as a day of awareness of human trafficking.
Some 12,300,000 people, mainly women and children, have been trafficked worldwide. They are sold into prostitution, forced or bonded labor, marriage, and military service (including child soldiers). Current estimates indicate that modern slavery is a multibillion-dollar criminal industry. In fact, it is now the second largest criminal industry in the world – the largest being the international drug trade.
The number of trafficking victims in the US is unknown. However, hundreds of thousands of US citizen minors are estimated to be at risk of commercial sexual exploitation, and the US State Department estimates that 14,500 – 17,500 foreign nationals are trafficked into the country each year.
What you can do:
• Watch the PBS documentary Dying to Leave.
• Host a public education event such as a movie screening and discussion. For a list of related movies, download this resource.
• Sign up and join the 1,600 churches participating in Freedom Sunday—March 11, 2011— when the global church prays, proclaims, sings, and intercedes for the end of slavery. For more information, click here.
DREAM Act Faces Setback
On December 18, 2010, the Senate narrowly failed to gain the 60 votes needed to end a Republican filibuster of DREAM Act legislation and bring the bill to the floor for a vote, effectively killing it for this congressional session.
Supporters said they were heartened, nevertheless, that DREAM won the backing of a majority in the Senate. They said they would continue to press for it, either on its own or as part of a broad immigration overhaul, a possible area of cooperation between Democrats and Republicans, who will control a majority in the House. Read More.
New Year’s Resolution Campaign for Immigration Reform
The General Board of Church and Society and the Interfaith Immigration Coalition (IIC) urge people of faith to make a New Year’s resolution to stand with immigrants, mobilize their faith communities, and call on Congress to make its own New Year’s resolution to enact immigration reform in 2011.
• Sign a New Year’s Resolution pledge card and encourage others to do the same!
• Host a New Year’s Resolution for Immigration Reform party and engage the community!
• Post a brief (one to two minutes) video on YouTube and inspire others to build welcoming communities and advocate for immigration reform. Then send an email with a link to the video to email@example.com and have it added to IIC’s new YouTube channel.
• View videos posted by participants in the Resolution Campaign here.
For more information on how to organize a campaign in your area, including a sample pledge card, download this toolkit. Contact Yvette Schock or Michelle Thorne for more information on how to get involved.
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Assisting a Burmese Activist
Moethee Zun has played an important role in Burma's struggle for democracy, first as organizer of an underground student movement and later as co-founder of the country’s second-largest political party, the Democratic Party for a New Society. (Burma was renamed Myanmar by the ruling military junta).
In March 1989, Moethee fled to Thailand. In May 2001, he was admitted to the US as a refugee. Even though the Burmese government issued a warrant for his arrest, which could have resulted in extradition, Moethee continued to work for a democratic Burma, speaking at venues around the world and authoring two books on the subject.
In 2002, JFON successfully represented Moethee on his green card application. Then, in July 2006, desiring additional protection from the Burmese government, which continued actively to pursue him, Moethee came to JFON for help applying for naturalization. Although he met all the statutory requirements for naturalization, his application languished for almost three years.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement sent two investigators to speak with Moethee about his activities among pro-democracy exiles in Thailand. Although he provided only humanitarian aid, Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) supervisors later cited concerns that he may have provided material support to “terrorist” groups along the Burmese –Thai border, and rejected his petition.
The USA Patriot Act of 2001 and the REAL ID Act of 2005 define the term “terrorist organization” broadly and even classify persons who resisted Saddam Hussein and Montagnards who fought alongside US soldiers in Vietnam as terrorists.
JFON filed a federal appeal at the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Moethee’s behalf. Seven days later, JFON learned that CIS had approved his application for citizenship.