Author: Dean

In Limbo No More!

Graham Bateman, JFON DFW Staff Attorney

Let me share some of the joy with you.  One of our clients recently received her green card.  She has been working for this day for 22 years!  Isabel is a citizen of Jamaica who came to the US on a student visa.  She married an abusive US citizen who controlled her partly by refusing to file the necessary papers for her to get a green card and threatening to have her deported.  Isabel broke free from him and worked with JFON to receive a temporary visa under the Violence Against Women Act.  A few years later, JFON filed Isabel’s application for a green card.  In my second week at JFON, I received a letter from USCIS that Isabel’s application card had been denied.  That’s how I met Isabel, a wonderful young woman who has turned her life around and is almost through with schooling to become an RN.

In its decision to deny Isabel, USCIS made two errors of law.  I worked through the American Immigration Lawyers Association to have the Dallas USCIS director reconsider the decision on her own – and it was approved!

Isabel received her green card and a job offer to work as a nurse on the same day.  She was shrieking with joy as I gave her the news! She said that it’s  “amazing, Limbo no more!   This is one of the happiest days of my life!  No one can tell me there is no God!  He is God – he is right in time.  I haven’t seen my Dad in 22 years.  I can go home – I haven’t seen my mom in 16 years!  I got a job as a nurse today, at $18 an hour.  I’m in school, I have my own place, God IS Good!”

She then hung up to tell everyone the good news, but not before asking me to give everyone who supports JFON her thanks – she said she could never have done it without you.

A Client’s Story

Honduran “Alejandro” came to the U.S. to get away from street gangs and drug cartels. Honduras is the #1 country for homicides, and Alejandro knew that if he refused to join the gang or carry drugs he would die a violent death.

Apprehended at the border, Alejandro was released into the custody of a relative who failed to take him to immigration court. An order of removal was entered against him, and he began to live in hiding.

But he was eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and with the help of JFON DFW, he was able to come out of the shadows and remain in the USA!

Alejandro says he is grateful for this opportunity, because he thought he would have to live the rest of life in fear. Now, he is enrolled in a community college and hopes to one day earn a degree at UTA.

When you give to JFON DFW, you make a world of difference for immigrant neighbors who cannot afford the help they need. Because you care, they can enjoy peace, security and prosperity that otherwise would be a faint dream!

Bishops Speak Out on Immigration, Urge Action

Below is a link to a letter from United Methodist Bishops addressing the current struggle surrounding immigration in the U.S. A temporary injunction was issued by a judge in Texas halting progress on the process of implementing Presidential orders issued in November 2014 which will benefit millions of our immigrant neighbors by expanding the scope of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and adding Deferred Action for Parental Accountability. The letter was written by Bishops Minerva Carcaño and Julius Trimble, leading United Methodist episcopal voices on the issue of immigration. Please read, then take positive action where you live!

Immigration Statement – COB

Immigration Call to Action 3-2015 pdf

Obama Expands Deferred Action, More

On Friday November 21, 2014, President Obama signed executive orders to grant administrative relief to an estimated 5.9 of 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. according to the White House website, the three critical elements of the President’s executive actions are: Cracking Down on Illegal Immigration, Deporting Felons Not Families, and Accountability – Criminal Background Checks and Taxes. The President’s actions will also streamline legal immigration to boost our economy and will promote naturalization for those who qualify.

For more details, you will find the fact sheet on the White House website here.

In terms of the immigration system, the executive actions will achieve the following:

  • Expand those eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to young people who came to the U.S. before turning 16 and been present since January 1, 2010, and extend the period of work authorization from 2 years to 3
  • Allow parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who have been in the country since January 1, 2010, to request deferred action and employment authorization provided they pass required background checks
  • Expand the use of provisional waivers of unlawful presence to include spouses and children of lawful permanent residents and children of U.S. citizens
  • Modernize, improve and clarify immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow our economy and create jobs
  • Promote citizenship education and public awareness for lawful permanent residents and allow naturalization applicants to use credit cards to pay the application fee

For more details on these provisions, go to the USCIS website here.

Action Celebrated, Congress Challenged

President Obama has decided he could no longer wait on a protractedly inactive congress, and Friday signed a series of executive initiatives aimed at addressing the immigration struggles of over half of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Some thoughts on this historic moment:

* We celebrate that almost 6 million will have an opportunity to address their immigration status. For years, there has been no line in which they could stand to address their immigration status. President Obama demonstrated leadership in keeping families together. Millions of people’s lives have been changed, and people of faith celebrate this bold initiative.
* Even before the initiatives were announced opponents were framing this action as an historic overreach by Obama. However, every Democratic and Republican president since Dwight Eisenhower has taken executive action on immigration. Obama has exercised his constitutional and legal authority to prioritize the resources allocated by Congress for immigration enforcement. This was a moral decision that all people of faith and good will should support – including our members of Congress— and an example of the courage and action the American people want to see in in their elected officials in solving tough problems. 
* This is a temporary fix that provides temporary relief for some, and does not change the immigration status of anyone. The laws need to be changed, and only Congress has the power to do that. It appears that Congress, rather than trying to implement solutions to the system, will expend their energies on attempts to de-fund and limit the president’s executive action.
* What can we do?  A key action you can take today is to call your member of Congress at 1-866-940-2439 and urge them to support these important steps toward welcoming our immigrant brothers and sisters. We need to continue to press forward for a permanent solution for ALL of our 11 million neighbors so they can live without fear of deportation, which can only happen if Congress takes action on immigration reform.

Taking Action For Immigrants

As congress threatens to take steps backwards in support of immigrants, especially when it comes to refugees and unaccompanied children, your voice matters. Please communicate with your senators and your representative to advocate for the cause of our immigrant neighbors. That can be in the form of an email, letter, or in-person visit, and you can get the forms or addresses for those contacts from the website of the senator or representative.

The quickest and easiest way to communicate is to call, and you can do that conveniently through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. Simply ask for the office of the Member of Congress you wish to reach and they will connect you directly. Tell the person who answers the phone your name, city and congregation, and tell them the specific concern(s) you are calling about. Say “as a person of faith” that you want the member of congress to support or oppose specific actions or legislation, and they will record your remarks. Then thank them and you can move on to another call. You can do this with local offices as well.

To help you know what is currently at stake, and what you can say about those issues, please click here to download a talking points document. If you want to learn more or to get pointers on how to arrange or organize action in your own community, visit this Resources page at the Interfaith Immigration Coalition. There are several toolkits for different kinds of action you can take. Great stuff! And let us know at JFON if you are planning to take some action of your own.

Responding to the Texas Border Crisis

In recent months, Texas has seen a massive influx of unaccompanied minors reach the U.S. border. The majority of the unaccompanied children reaching the U.S. border are from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, most often leaving their homes because of violence in their home countries. A report by the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), citing 2012 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) data, highlighted that Honduras had a homicide rate of 90.4 per 100,000 people. El Salvador and Guatemala had homicide rates of 41.2 and 39.9, which rank 1st, 3rd and 4th around the globe.  As we seek faithful responses to this tragic crisis, here are some links that we hope are helpful:
     * The 5 Texas United Methodist Bishops have issued a Pastoral Letter regarding the crisis, which you can read here:  http://www.ntcmissionaloutreach.org/missional-outreach-blog/a-pastoral-letter-from-your-bishops-about-the-texas-border-crisis
     * Marji Bashir Hill of the North Texas Conference has posted thishttp://www.ntcmissionaloutreach.org/missional-outreach-blog/texas-border-crisis-update-july-2014/

     * Laraine Waughtal at Central Texas Conference has a page that is a running update of needs related to the care of the children: http://ctcumc.org/pages/detail/2533

* JFON DFW is helping in two significant ways:

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins recently announced a plan to house 2,000 unaccompanied minors in Dallas county. Three locations have been vetted in Dallas and Grand Prairie.  JFON DFW is partnering with the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association in preparing to service the unaccompanied minors that will be housed in Dallas County. JFON DFW will know more details as soon as a move-in date is announced, and will post volunteer opportunities on its website and Facebook page for folks that want to help by donating goods or by providing legal services.

San Antonio houses children at multiple locations. They are at maximum capacity, and having trouble keeping up with the necessary legal screenings of the children.  National Justice For Our Neighbors has organized a response in support of the non-profit agencies that service the children there, and bilingual attorneys from around the JFON network will travel to San Antonio to help provide the legal screenings. JFON DFW is providing the services of its staff attorney, Maria Macias, who will be in San Antonio the second week of August. 

If you want to support JFON DFW in this important Christian effort, we would covet your prayers and those of your local faith community. We also welcome your financial gifts, which can be given conveniently and securely at www.jfondfw.org/donate

Let’s all do what we can to help these children, and those who are on the ground seeking to support them!

New Monthly Clinic to Begin in August

JFON DFW is pleased to announce the opening of a new monthly client intake clinic in Dallas at Arapaho United Methodist Church beginning August 14th. The clinic will run from 6-10 PM and will be held the second Thursday of each month thereafter. Walk-ins are not accepted… prospective clients are asked to call in and reserve a time to meet with JFON DFW Staff Attorney Maria Macias.

The new clinic is the culmination of efforts that began in the summer of 2013 and is the result of a strong sense of social justice that characterizes the congregation and Arapaho UMC!

To seek an appointment at the Arapaho site, call 972.231.1005. During the recorded message press 14 for Spanish or 20 for English and leave your name, call back number and briefly describe the reason for your call. 

We are thrilled to welcome the caring members of Arapaho UMC to the JFON DFW team!
  

JFON DFW Names New Staff Attorney

Great news! JFON DFW has hired a new Staff Attorney!

Maria Macias comes to us from Catholic Charities in Dallas, where she has been a staff attorney since 2011. She earned a degree in Business Administration at Baylor University and her degree in law at DePaul University in Chicago. She studied abroad in Argentina and Spain and is fluent in Spanish.

The Board at JFON DFW is excited about the qualifications, experience she possesses and the passion she has for the clients we serve. She is thrilled to be joining the team at JFON DFW: “I’m so excited!” she said when offered the position.

Maria begins her service with JFON DFW on Monday, September 16th. Keep Maria and the ministry in your prayers!