Spotlight on Syrian Refugees


Michigan prepares

Part of the United Methodist Committee on Relief’s care for immigrants and refugees is facilitated by a network of clinics known as Justice For Our Neighbors.Michigan stands ready to assist through the services of Justice for Our Neighbors. JFON is a legal ministry supported by the United Methodist Church to provide free legal services to immigrants in need.

Director of Justice for our Neighbors Southeastern Michigan (JFON-SEMI), Tori Booker, reports: “Currently, our attorney is representing a family from Syria with their political asylum application and is ready to serve others. We are also prepared to help Syrian families apply for Temporary Protected Status now that Congress has authorized this form of relief.” Apart from providing free legal services, JFON also operates “in a climate of intentional hospitality through our clinics, which are hosted by United Methodist churches. Tori remarks, “Clients who are nervous or frightened arrive at our clinics and are greeted with friendly faces, snacks and an attitude of welcome.”

Laura Rampersad, JFON West Michigan’s Director, adds: “As far as immediate response to Syrian crisis there will be a need for church placements for new arrivals. Congregations should consider answering the call if Congress increases refugees allowed into U.S.” She lists “housing, employment and school as immediate needs of families navigating immigration issues.” JFON West Michigan has strong ties to the two major regional refugee resettlement agencies in Bethany Christian Services and Lutheran Social Services.

Chris Cavanaugh, Program Manager of Refugee Services for Lutheran Social Services of Michigan, says, “We have been gearing up statewide for a resettlement program for Syrians, meeting with local Syrian-Americans, Syrian professionals, and the Islamic Center. We have resettled a few cases here in Grand Rapids and almost 60 Syrians in Detroit.”

Cavanaugh believes there is strong precedent for increased mobilization: “After the Vietnam War the U.S. was able to be very responsive and resettled over 200,000 ‘boat people.’ There is much similarity to what we are seeing in Europe,” he notes. He encourages interested individuals to consider sponsorship, describing the refugees’ situation this way: “Syrians have experienced high trauma and they need mental health support. They have a strong willingness to be contributing members of the community with eagerness to work and integrate.” Churches are uniquely positioned to facilitate integration. “The best way to help them integrate is just to get to know them and help them out with everyday things we take for granted,” Cavanaugh concludes.

~Michigan Area News Editor Kay DeMoss contributed to this report

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DACA/DAPA remains in holding pattern

From National Immigration Law Center:

On May 26, 2015, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the federal government’s request for an emergency stay of the Texas federal district court’s decision (or preliminary injunction) that blocked DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) and “expanded” DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) from being implemented. The circuit court’s decision leaves in place, for now, the February nationwide injunction of the two major immigration actions announced by President Obama last November. When implemented, DAPA and expanded DACA will allow millions of immigrants to come forward and apply for work authorization and protection from deportation.

This decision applies only to the request for an emergency stay while the federal government’s appeal of the district court’s decision moves forward. It is not the Fifth Circuit’s final ruling on whether the district court was correct in granting the preliminary injunction and blocking the immigration actions nationwide. While two of the three judges on the Fifth Circuit panel voted to deny the stay, one of the judges disagreed and authored a powerful dissent outlining why the order blocking the president’s immigration actions is legally and factually unsound and why the emergency stay should have been granted.

Volunteers Needed

We still need volunteers for the upcoming clinic!

On Saturday, April 25th, JFON will be hosting a special clinic from 10 am to 2 pm to help refugee families (22 clients) file their required green card applications. We will be using the large conference room on the same floor as the JFON offices in the First Place Building (207 Fulton E., Grand Rapids, 49503).

If you are interested, we have needs in the following areas:
– Form preparation
– Registration table
– Runners/copiers
– Childcare
– Room set-up (8:30 am)
– Room break-down (1:30 pm)

For volunteers interested in assisting with form preparation, we will be holding a short training/refresher prior to the clinic at 9 am in the large conference room.

If you would like to volunteer, please email me and indicate in what area you would like to serve.

Thank you for helping us serve our refugee neighbors.

Maureen Carney
Volunteer Coordinator

TC’s talents have you Rocking for Justice

We are auctioning off 6 rocking chairs and 2 children’s chairs, beautifully repurposed by local artists. The proceeds from the chairs will help with operating expenses of our immigration legal clinic for the upcoming year.

Bid Now! Auction closes on March 14th at 9 pm

All proceeds benefit JFON’s newest satellite clinic in Traverse City!





5 facts about immigration in Michigan | 2014-12-01 | Grand Rapids Business Journal

5 facts about immigration in Michigan | 2014-12-01 | Grand Rapids Business Journal.

Stand up for Families


Tell Congress to Support President Obama’s Deferred Action to Keep Families Together

Some members of Congress have threatened to stop administrative action through legislation, legal action or blocking funding for implementation. The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has supported the call for Immigration Reform and encouraged local communities to participate in ministries of mercy and justice.

It is important for Congress to hear from United Methodists that you support the president expanding deferred action.

“Immigrant families received a word of mercy and a measure of justice,” said Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño (California-Pacific Conference), when she heard about the president’s deferred action executive order<>. “We thank God that these immigrant families can now come out of the shadows and are grateful to President Obama for the strong statement his action sends to the immigrant community and to Congress.”

“This good news was indeed a word of mercy pointing toward a focus on hope and not fear,” said Bishop Julius C. Trimble (Iowa), chairperson, United Methodist Interagency Task Force on Immigration<>.

President Obama has signed fewer executive orders than any president in 130 years. Deferred action is one of the many long-standing forms of prosecutorial discretion available to the Executive Branch. Indeed, every U.S. President since at least 1956<> has used their authority to offer temporary immigration relief to groups in need. Ronald Reagan used categorical grants of deferred action for large groups of undocumented immigrants in 1987, as did George H.W. Bush in 1990.

The United Methodist Church believes …

To refuse to welcome migrants to this country and to stand by in silence while families are separated, individual freedoms are ignored, and the migrant community in the United States is demonized by members of Congress and the media, is complicity to sin.

The United Methodist Church affirms the worth, dignity and inherent value and rights of every person regardless of their nationality or legal status. (Welcoming the Migrant to the United States<>, Book of Resolutions)

Please call your member of Congress NOW!

Tell Congress: “My name is _______, and I’m from (City, State, Congregation, Community). As a United Methodist, I support President Obama expanding deferred action to immigrant families. I ask Congress to support this decision and to promote its implementation.”

Please make your call now: 1-888-427-0530!

Information Poster for Admin Relief – for Spanish version go to: Noticias page

House’s Inaction Blamed on Children – Seriously??

Post election comment from Senator Boehner blamed the unaccompanied youth arriving at our border as the reason they have not acted.  This is the farthest stretch our leaders in House have ever made – and cannot go left without response from Immigation Advocates!  The timing alone does not correlate.  They were not proposing any action this summer just before an election.  And the culprit definitely had no agenda when they arrived at our border and pleaded for asylum.

Clip for that news conference on 11/6/2014:John_Boehner_official_portrait

Boehner said the House’s inaction on immigration was due to the influx of unaccompanied minors who have been caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, a problem that peaked this summer.

“What held us back last year was a flood of kids coming to the border because of the actions that the president had already taken,” Boehner said.

A reporter asked what had stopped House Republicans from taking up immigration during the 18 months before the border crisis.

“I could regale you with all of my challenges of trying to get members on both sides of the aisle to deal with this. They were numerous,” Boehner said. “But hope springs eternal.”

Boehner said he would have to talk to his fellow House Republicans before he could guarantee that the chamber would take up immigration reform if Obama agrees to drop his plans for executive action. Boehner added that he personally thinks Congress ought to address immigration reform.

“It’s time to deal with it,” he said.

Tell President Obama:

It is time for bold action on immigration

Tell President Obama: It is time for bold action on immigration

Before the elections, President Obama and Senate Democrats put political considerations above moral and humanitarian concerns of millions of aspiring Americans by delaying action on immigration reform until after the mid-term elections.

The president’s broken promise1 ended up backfiring as it deflated key parts of the Democratic party’s base.2

We cannot accept any more excuses, and we won’t accept half-measures. The president can no longer put off executive action to protect millions of our families who are at grave risk of being separated because of our broken immigration system.

Tell President Obama: Use all legal means available to suspend deportations and expand deferred action to immigrants who would have qualified for legalization under the Senate immigration reform bill.

To read more:  <<click here>>

To sign petition: <<click here>>

Administrative Relief Info

Brief summary:   President Obama promised yesterday that he is going to make an immigration executive order (which we also call “administrative relief”) by the end of this year.  The President stated that he will eliminate these Executive Orders if and when Congress enacts legislation which he can sign.
Additional information coming from other sources other than the article:  Some people in the advocate community expect the President will announce the administrative relief by mid-December.  We do not know who or how many people it will protect.  One possibility is parents of U.S. citizens who have lived in the U.S. for a certain period of time.  DREAMer groups and others are also pressing that the order  include parents of young people with DACA.

Ted Cruz Threatens to Force Senate Vote on Obama’s Amnesty Plans

President Obama, you can end the nightmares of 5.5 million children

From the Congress Blog of The Hill

November 05, 2014, 03:00 pm
By Rev. John L. McCullough

Can I be honest? I am sick and tired of the predictable victory and concession speeches that we hear on election nights. Politicians promise to listen to all their constituents – both those who voted for and against them. They promise to go to Washington and to get to work. They ritually close their speeches with the national creed of “God bless America.” But these hollow promises rarely seem to ring true. Instead, we end up with too many politicians who cater to corporate interests and fringe voices – rather than follow the call of justice, dignity and the promise of our nation.

In recent months, when our elected leaders have failed us by ignoring the need for immigration reform, the faith community has decided to take prophetic action and to stand in the gap. Congregations across the nation are providing physical sanctuary to immigrant moms and dads facing final orders of deportation. For these parents, sanctuary has been their last hope and last option to remain here in the U.S. with their kids. This prophetic action in cities across the country has captured the attention of millions, and we pray that they have also inspired Congress and the President to act.

Despite having the best chance in a generation to pass immigration reform, House Republicans decided to abdicate their responsibility rather than actually lead our nation and reform and restore confidence in our immigration system. Now, after the mid-term election, I sadly see no hope for legislative reform with the new Congress. The House Republican leadership has made their head-in-the-sand position clearly known and there is no indication that anything but that status quo will prevail in a new Senate.

Our elected leaders appear utterly detached from the reality of our nation’s families who are living amidst the broken pieces of our country’s immoral and dysfunctional immigration system. The reality that Congress refuses to face is that millions in this nation live in fear. One in 6 children in California has an undocumented parent. One in 20 workers is undocumented. And 3 in 5 undocumented immigrants have been here for more than 10 years. Across the nation, 5.5 million children have at least one undocumented parent.

The nightmares and fears of millions children must end. Too many children have already experienced coming home from school to find their parents gone. This nightmare of racial profiling at traffic stops resulting in detention, deportation and family separation must end. Our nation has a higher calling: to foster a society in which all our community members – regardless of documentation, race, ethnic background, creed, sexual orientation or economic status – can flourish and pursue their dreams. Read More »