Accompanying vulnerable immigrants, JFON attorneys on Capitol HIll, JFON's "Holy Work" & how to offer temporary housing to refugees.
Stories & News from the JFON Network
No Permanent Injury
Imagine being a woman walking with a bag of groceries and personal hygiene needs. You are on the street. It is daylight. There are kids playing and women sitting in their front yards.
You see four guys walking towards you. You can see that one is carrying a firearm. You deduce that from their clothing and bearing and tattoos that they are gang members, because you are in a Central American country where every neighborhood is controlled by a gang.
It is your second day back in this country since your mother took you, your siblings, and your close cousin away, when you were 10 years old.
You note another group of four men, also ranging in age between approximately 17-30 years old, across the street. You hear them call to each other.
You hear: Stop her.
The men walk faster and now all eight are behind you. You are walking faster, too, but four of the men get in front of you. And now the group has encircled you. You can plainly see that five of the eight men who have surrounded you on the street have guns.
The children have all scattered...they’ve run to hide.
One of the armed men demands to know if you are a boy or a girl. You say you’re a girl. They are calling you names, vulgar names. They’re saying you look more like a guy.
The man face to face with you pulls up your sweatshirt to look at your breasts. As he does this, you drop both your shopping bags.
The man behinds you pulls down your pants. He yells to the guy in front of you.
See if she has a penis...
A JFON attorney wrote this first-hand account from inside an immigration detention center.
The attorney's name, the name of her client, and location details are being kept secret to protect the client’s safety and privacy.
You’ve probably seen the videos or read the stories. In cities and towns across the U.S., ICE agents are “staking out” local courthouses and nabbing undocumented immigrants who are there for appointments and hearings.
This latest trend in increasingly unwarranted and excessive actions on the part of ICE has been met with concern, protest, and accompaniments.
The idea is a simple one: accompany immigrants when they have to go to court. Drive them. Stay with them. Wait for them.
“We are there for them,” says Central Washington JFON Executive Director Abigail Scholar. “We surround them with love and care.”
Along with other CW JFON volunteers, Abigail helps organize these efforts with several local partners in both the Central and Eastern parts of the state.
Last week, over 500 immigration attorneys descended upon Washington, D.C., as part of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s annual National Day of Action. Several of our JFON attorneys made the trip, including JFON Houston's Managing Attorney Joy Green and Marisa Peterson, an attorney specializing in deportation defense.
We shadowed Joy and Marisa for part of their day on Capitol Hill, as they visited with staff members from the offices of their U.S. representatives and both Senators from Texas.
Among the issues discussed was due process at the border, the need for Congress to establish an independent immigration court outside the control of political appointees from the Department of Justice, and the immigration court case backlog, currently numbering a whopping 50,000 in Houston alone.
"I've practiced immigration law in Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso, Kansas City and Chicago," Joy told one Hill staffer, "and I've never seen a backlog on this scale anywhere else."
The day also gave them opportunities, says Marisa, to share their experiences, to educate, and to find common ground with the people who are responsible for presenting new ideas to their bosses.
“Some of the staffers were very receptive to learning from us," she says. "And I learned a lot, too.”
JFON Houston Managing Attorney Joy Green (right) and attorney Marisa Peterson in the office of Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX 10th District.)
Hard Work, Humanizing Work, Holy Work
“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice...the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.”
This quote is from FDR’s first presidential campaign in 1932, before he took office and assumed the mantle of leadership that would take the U.S. through the Great Depression, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and WWII.
We similarly do not know what challenges lie ahead to immigrant and refugee justice – what new walls may be built and whether they will be made of barbed wire, legal policies, or both. However, with its persistent work—hard work, humanizing work, holy work—JFON carves out a sure path of faith, hope, and love toward our fellow humans....
“Offering up your home can be an extremely rewarding way to not only provide much-needed support for a refugee/asylum-seeking individual, but an opportunity to connect and help welcome them to their new community with open arms,” says Meredith Owen, Deputy Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Immigration and Refugee Programat CWS and also an NJFON board member.
Through travel credits provided by Airbnb, CWS affiliates are able to book temporary stays for their clients in the event that permanent housing cannot be secured in time for their arrival, or if a situation arises where they need transitional housing. An important priority for this program is to increase the number of hosts in our communities who are offering up their homes for $0.
You don’t need to have an existing listing on Airbnb to offer up your home, and your $0 listing will only appear on the open homes platform, where only CWS and other resettlement agencies have exclusive access to your listing.
If you are interested in offering your home as temporary shelter for refugees or if you have questions about the program, please contact Meredith Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click the photo below to enjoy a short video about one host family's experience!