National Justice for Our Neighbors
May, 2017 
 
 
The Mother's Day Reunion
 
"Now my heart can breathe again" 
 
For three kids newly arrived from a remote corner of El Salvador, New York City is a bewildering place.
 
They used to walk 30 minutes to a small and humble school. Now they walk a few blocks to a big and imposing building, with computers and supplies, and kids from all over the world.
 
Underground, there is the subway, rumbling and twisting through mysterious dark tunnels. Aboveground, there are horns and sirens and brakes shrieking as drivers narrowly miss those pedestrians who dawdle crossing the street.
 
“Even the crosswalks confuse them,” says their stepfather Eddie with a chuckle. “’’What do the signals mean? When do we walk? When do we stop?’” He shrugs his shoulders. “They’ve never seen anything like them before.”
 
Being reunited with their mother after a ten-year separation is also bewildering. Did they ever really believe this happy day would come?
 
 
 Continue reading HERE.
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Hooray for the Moms! 

Children need their moms, just like moms need their children.
 
But for moms like Consuelo—featured in the story above—there can be no Happy Mother’s Day when they are separated from their children.
 
This Mother’s Day, please honor the mother in your life with a gift so that immigrant and refugee mothers can receive the life-changing legal services they need to be with their children on this day and every day.
 
 
 
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Making the JFON Case

JFON DFW Attorney on Immigration Panel at the UMC Council of Bishops Meeting

Tiny, bird-like, and elderly, Nailah was a most unlikely person to stage a sit-in. Yet there she sat, her hands in her lap, her feet barely reaching the floor, and nothing anybody said would make her budge.
 
“I won’t leave until you help me,” she repeated. Her voice, still carrying an Egyptian accent after 25 years in the United States, was polite, but firm.
 
Immigration attorney Graham Bateman was nonplussed. This was a definite first for JFON Dallas-Ft Worth. “We have clients right now,” she explained gently. “Why not make an appointment? Or come to one of our clinics?”
 
“No.” Nailah shook her head. “You don’t understand. I am a Muslim. I’ve seen what is happening at the airports. Anything can happen now. I could be deported.”
 
“Yes, but—“
 
“This is where my family is. This is my home.” Nailah looked at Graham, her dark eyes pleading. “I don’t know anything about Egypt anymore. Please help me become a citizen so I don’t have to go back there.”
 
Graham sighed. The sit-in might be a new tactic, but the heightened fear and worry was something she had witnessed many times over the last few months. Immigrants—even longtime, lawful permanent residents like Nailah—had once thought they were safe. Now they had begun to realize that permanent doesn’t always mean permanent.   
 
 
Continue reading HERE.
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Were You There for the #ImmigrantMarch?   
 
NJFON joins thousands across Nation to celebrate immigrants 
 
On Monday, May 1, National JFON joined thousands of immigrants and advocates nationwide for Rise Up! events demonstrating the vitality of immigrants in the U.S. and speaking out against recent anti-immigrant policies.  NJFON Executive Director Rob Rutland-Brown participated in a three-mile march over the Potomac River to the White House where his Virginia-based group was met by a crowd of over 5,000 supporters.
 
“It was energizing to march alongside the immigrants who led the event, including many DREAMers from George Mason University,” says Rob. “A lot of immigrants lost wages and risked losing their jobs to leave work for the event—these were acts of courage for them.”
 
Meanwhile, NJFON Program and Advocacy Manager Melissa Bowe was in Philadelphia for that city’s own Day of Action.
 
“There were multiple marches in Philadelphia and a strike,” Melissa reports. “Owners shut down shops, workers stayed away from their jobs, children stayed home from school, and many Philadelphians generally avoided purchases or online shopping to demonstrate the consequences of large-scale deportations.”
 
These events, coordinated by a coalition of immigrants and workers, culminated at City Hall for speeches, music and a celebration of the contributions and richness immigrants bring to the neighborhoods and communities of the City of Brotherly Love.
 
“I was challenged to reflect on how our work is stronger when we are connected to other movements, struggles and stories, not only in our towns and cities, but nationally and internationally,” says Melissa. “How can we at JFON work more closely with our allies around us? How can we better connect our work and therefore better serve our clients?”
 
Back in our nation’s capital, Rob and our allies in the struggle for immigrant justice continued to march to the White House. All along their route, ordinary people stopped to cheer them on: construction workers atop buildings, police officers lining the streets, and cars passing by.
 
“The messages, including chants like ‘No hate, no fear—immigrants are welcome here!’ and signs such as ‘Build bridges, not walls’ seemed to really resonate with people,” Rob says. “Those are the messages we will carry forward every day as we fight for welcoming and just immigration policies.”
 
 
 
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CALL TO ACTION!
Why we must extend Temproary Protected Status for our Haitian neighbors  
 
 
In response to the 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti, the U.S. government pledged to provide protection through Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians who were already living, visiting or studying in the United States as of January 12, 2011. Today, about 58,000 Haitians have been able to rebuild their lives, work, and raise a family in safety, while their remittances support loved ones in Haiti.
 
Many of them are in the Miami area, and many are clients and friends of South Florida JFON.
 
“We met a Methodist family whose mother had worked at a school in Haiti,” remembers legal director Janet Horman. “In one horrible moment, the school was completely obliterated. This woman lost her home, her work, and most of her community in a matter of seconds.”
 
Those who were visiting or going to school in the U.S. were stranded, suddenly homeless. Others began arriving in Miami with little more than the clothes they were wearing. Those who were already living here found their homes swelling with friends and relatives fleeing food shortages and disease caused by the destruction.
 
“When TPS was offered, these families and thousands like them could apply for work authorization and social security numbers, find work, pay taxes, and drive legally,” says Janet. “They could support themselves and still find ways to send part of their paychecks to their desperate relatives back home in Haiti. TPS continues to sustain many of these families today, and their economic security sustains the well-being of Haitian neighborhoods in South Florida.”
 
Many of the Haitians granted TPS status, Janet reminds us, now have U.S. citizen children. These American children have never known the poverty and health conditions they would be facing were they forced to leave their native country because their parents lost their TPS status.
 
“For communities both here and in Haiti,” adds Janet, “the extension of TPS saves lives.”
 
Much of the progress Haiti had made after the 2010 earthquake was annihilated when the island was hit by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. The Category 5 hurricane laid waste to crops and livestock, resulting in famine and exacerbating an already existing cholera epidemic recognized as the deadliest in the world.
 
Unfortunately, the original Haitian TPS is set to expire on July 22, 2017, and the administration is indicating they may discontinue TPS for Haitians altogether in January  2018.
 
What can we do?
 
NJFON—a steering committee member of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition—asks you to please follow this link and call, email, or tweet key congressional members, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House. Phone numbers, addresses and sample scripts are provided.
 
Tell them we must extend TPS for our Haitian neighbors.  Tell them to do otherwise would be an affront to our American values of hospitality, generosity, and compassion.
 
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