JFON Network Update
National JFON Update
UMCOR’s board of directors approved a slate of nine inaugural board members of the new National JFON at its October board meeting. This milestone is the first of many, as National JFON will soon be separately incorporated after being administered by UMCOR since 1999.
National JFON will retain a strong relationship with UMCOR via its own board of directors. The new board will hold its first meeting before the end of 2011 and soon afterward will complete work on its bylaws and terms for its directors and officers.
Brynne Howard, JFON Iowa Attorney CommissionedOn Oct. 11, 2011, Brynne was commissioned as a Church and Community Worker missionary 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. “I have really appreciated the opportunity to meet and learn from the other Church and Community Workers and the eight other international missionaries. I am looking forward to continuing my work as a JFON Attorney,” says Brynne. Read more.
JFON Arkansas holds Citizenship ClassesIn partnership with Village Commons, JFON-AR is hosting weekly citizenship classes in Little Rock. Using materials from the USCIS Citizenship Resource Center to prepare presentations on history and civics and aided by their JFON regional attorney, volunteers teach as well as lead activities, discussions, and review sessions.
Commemorate International Migrant Day – December 18
The United Nations has declared December 18 as a day to highlight the experiences and human rights of migrants. The United Methodist Interagency Taskforce on Immigration and United Methodist Women are assembling a packet of resources for reflection, worship, and action, which may be useful to commemorate this day. If you are interested in receiving these materials once they are completed, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Harsh Truth about Immigration Detention
According to a National Immigration Forum report, on any given day, more than 33,000 migrants, including 1,400 asylum seekers fleeing persecution, are detained in the US. They are frequently held in conditions that fall below international standards, and denied due process. It currently costs approximately $166/day to detain an immigrant. For 2012, the House of Representatives has approved a budget of $2.75 billion for Detention and Removal – over $184 million more than 2011 and enough for ICE to keep 34,000 immigrants detained at any one time.
Although ICE says that its policy is to prioritize apprehension and detention of individuals convicted of serious criminal offenses, 65% of immigrants who were detained and deported from 1996 to 2006 had been arrested for nonviolent crimes. In 2009 and 2010, more than half of all immigrant detainees had no criminal records. Of those with any criminal history, nearly 20% were for traffic offenses.
Read LIRS’s recently released report, Unlocking Liberty that examines the immigrant detention system and community based-alternatives.
Read the New York Times’ latest article on the business of detention, and learn how companies are using the immigration crackdown to turn a profit.
Watch “Lost in Detention,” a Frontline examination of the Obama administration’s controversial get-tough immigration policy.
Listen to a webcast of a United Nations forum called “Strengthening Asylum in the US,” which included a panel discussion of the detention of asylum seekers.
Join the campaign to encourage the UMC to divest itself of investments in the for-profit Corrections Corporation of America and The GEO Group. Currently there are 452 United Methodists signed on to the petition. Join here.
Join the Detention Watch Network’s Dignity Not Detention campaign against the mandatory detention of immigrants awaiting deportation hearings—more than 200,000 every year—without any individual assessment of their risk to public safety or their vulnerability in detention.
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2010 | 2011
Fredeline Benoit* and her husband Patrice* were subsistence farmers, micro-business owners, and respected community leaders in rural Haiti. Patrice was also a pastor of a local church, where he taught primary school children how to read and write. Over the years, Patrice became a leading member of a political group that worked to protect local peasants from abuses by the Fanmi Lavalas government and improve the infrastructure in the area. Patrice also voiced criticism against the government for its failure to protect and serve the local citizens.
In 2004, the Benoit house was invaded by members of the Fanmi Lavalas party. Fredeline, Patrice, and their six children were bound, blindfolded, and beaten with sticks and fists. Fredeline and her daughter were raped repeatedly as her husband was dragged out the door. The attackers made sure the Benoits knew that the brutality they were suffering was punishment for Patrice’s criticism of the Fanmi Lavalas government. This was just one of several such attacks.
Fredeline does not remember how she came to the US in 2005, or how she was separated from her family. She has recurring headaches, which get worse whenever she is asked to recall what happened to her family. She suffers from panic attacks and rarely leaves home. In short, Fredeline is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Based on the abuse she suffered and the fear of continuing attacks, Fredeline applied for asylum in the US. During her hearing before an immigration judge, Fredeline had to recount what she had suffered. Although the immigration judge believed she had suffered “horrific physical violence” he found her not credible due to her faulty memory and confused testimony and denied her asylum application.
JFON in partnership with a volunteer attorney, Chuck Conroy, assisted Fredeline in the appeal process. JFON submitted a brief explaining the effects of PTSD on survivors of violence. The appeals court sent the case back to the original immigration judge. During this second hearing, after he admitted, “This case has been haunting me the past year,” the judge reversed his earlier verdict and granted Fredeline asylum.
Since escaping to the US, Fredeline has had only sporadic contact with Patrice who is in hiding in Haiti. However, now that she has been granted asylee status, Fredeline can start the process to bring her husband and her children, if they can be found, out of danger and into safety in the United States.
*not their real names