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Published by Laura Rampersad on October 23rd, 2013
Beware of a scam that is happening in SE Michigan:
A man calls claiming to be an immigration officer and provides a badge number. He tells the person that they must post a bond to avoid being deported. He instructs the person to get a gift card from a bank and to give him the card number over the phone. If the person asks what the charges against him are, the “officer” says he can not release the information until the bond is paid. As soon as he has the gift card number, he hangs up. My client was asked for $10,000.
Fortunately, the person who reported this scam kept pushing for information and drove to the Farmington Hills Police Department while on the phone and the police spoke with this “officer”. FHPD told my client that they have received about 6 or 7 other complaints about this scam and are investigating. If there are that many complaints in one city, it may be happening elsewhere.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO REPORT: If you are targeted or know of a scam – be sure to report it. The USCIS recently formally joined forces with Federal Trade Commission to investigate and prosecute people who target immigrants.Go to www.uscir.gov/avoidscams
If you want to file anonymously just skip the first page asking for contact info. If you can provide a safe contact, please do – it does help police follow-up on the matter and help stop the scammer.
Published by Laura Rampersad on October 23rd, 2013
Former Republican Representative (R-MI) Spence Abraham and Carlos Gutierrez combined in an editorial in recent Detroit Free Press. They are calling for Comprehensive Immigration Reform for these reasons:
Immigration reform is a secret weapon that can help unleash the full power of the U.S. economy.
Except that it’s not really much of a secret. Study after study has shown what revamping our outdated immigration system can do. The CATO Institute estimates that comprehensive immigration reform would increase U.S. gross domestic product by $1.5 trillion over 10 years. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office believes that it would trim the federal deficit by $135 billion over the same time period.
To read more:
Published by Laura Rampersad on September 6th, 2013
JFON has been working with BCS for the past decade – and we are very familiar with the government program featured in the WOOD TV News Report (which aired at 6pm on Sep 5th, 2013). The federally funded program is a humanitarian effort to serve a very special population of immigrants – children fleeing persecution and abuse in their homeland. BCS provides only the most basic of services – food and shelter for a temporary period of time. JFON has assisted BCS staff by making know your rights presentations to these children.
As people of faith, we should be proud that our Department of Homeland Security is serving these children seeking refuge in our land. Before the change in law, the children were detained in jails and prisons with adult populations. Now they are housed more humanely in foster care homes.
We are speaking out, because a journalist chose to use these children as a tool to fuel the flame of the anti-immigrant crowd. Fellow advocates are appalled that they attacked a community service agency by accusing of them of acting in secret and misportrayed the population the children they are serving by not sharing the story that forced them to flee their families and homeland. As advocates, we need to show support of BCS. We also need to push even harder to make our communities more welcoming. Call your Representative ask for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. -Laura
Published by Laura Rampersad on September 5th, 2013
At 6pm tonight, WoodTV8 will be airing a sensationalized story on Bethany Christian Services’ important program for refugee and unaccompanied minor children. You can watch the trailer here – based on that trailer and the piece that ran at noon, we are concerned about the negative way this program (that our community is so proud of!) could be portrayed.
Because this community is one that welcomes vulnerable people — particularly children — we want to be ready to respond with the truth! These children are truly our most vulnerable neighbors.
Tonight, people of faith around West Michigan will watch the story on WoodTV8. We understand that this might raise some questions – as this is a very special area of our immigration system. To help you process this story, the CRC’s Office of Social Justice and Evangelical Immigration Table has organized a conference call for all advocates to hear a rebuttal and a plan for response. We need to show our support of this program.
What you can do:
1) Watch the story, then call in after the story airs to join the organizing call. Just call (712) 432-1500 and enter the code 156211#. (Better yet — gather a group of friends to watch and call in together!)
2) Send this email invitation to as many folks as you believe care about refugees, undocumented immigrants, and reforming our broken immigration system.
3) Reply to this email if you plan to watch the piece later, and would like to be kept in the loop with the response plan.
We have prayed for months that congress will pass immigration reform. As we wait for a vote in the House, this story comes at a critical time. Maybe we can use it as a chance to raise our voices — and ask our congresspeople to vote to create a fair and just immigration system. This is a great opportunity for us to show our compassion, and use our voices for justice.
I hope you’ll join us!
Published by Laura Rampersad on September 2nd, 2013
People of faith continue to make their voices heard on immigration reform. We find ourselves at a pivotal moment in the movement for immigration reform. As followers of Jesus, we believe that the combination of faithful prayer and solidarity with those whose lives are directly impacted by our unjust immigration policies, will make a difference on our elected leaders. We invite you to join United Methodists and other faith groups in 40 days of prayer, fasting, and advocacy for compassionate and humane immigration reform.
Here is what 40 days of Prayer includes:
- Pray each Sunday as a congregation through themes we have for each week. As you pray, read and reflect on the associated Scripture and the Gospel’s mandate to welcome the immigrant and love your neighbor.
- Fast one day each week, which turns our attention away from our own needs and toward God, who calls us into deeper solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters
- Invite your Representative to join with you and your congregation to pray the last Sunday, October 6th . For how to guide – click here 40 Days – Write your Rep
We’ve included the tools you need: (1) relevant scripture, (2) a weekly prayer, and (3) a story to share. Just click on links below and get assignment for that week. We will resend the current week the prior Friday as a reminder.
Week 1: Keep Families Together
Week 2: Provide a Pathway to Citizenship
Week 3: Support Immigrant Survivors of Violence
Week 4: Protect Workers’ Rights
Week 5: Stand with Border Communities
Week 6: Recognize the Economic Contributions of Immigrants
We are here to support your efforts. Contact the Laura Rampersad at the JFON office (616) 301-7461 or at L.Rampersad@jfonwestmichigan.org, if you have questions or need support.
Our goal is to start this upcoming week! Do it with a group or pray alone. This format is flexible. If you participate, we would love to hear from you and get your feedback on your experience.
Published by Laura Rampersad on July 1st, 2013
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) of The United Methodist Church praises the U.S. Senate for its initiative in finally passing a bill to reform immigration laws. Unfortunately, though, the agency believes the legislation passed is not what is needed to truly repair the broken U.S. immigration system.
“The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, & Immigration Modernization Act” (S.744), which passed 68-32 June 27, represents important steps forward by including a pathway to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants — though the pathway is arduous — and by eliminating the visa backlog for some immigrant families, assessed Bill Mefford, director of Civil & Human Rights at GBCS.
“I pray the U.S. House of Representatives has the fortitude to keep those aspects of reform in their legislation,” Mefford said, “though they need to go further than the Senate for the reform to be humane and effective.”
The Senate bill contains many aspects, however, that make this legislation unworkable, according to Mefford.
The Senate bill creates a 13-year path to citizenship for undocumented individuals. It places a stay-of-removal on deportations of individuals qualified for the pathway, and includes their spouse and children under age 21 in their application, enabling families to go through the process together.
DREAMers, defined as persons who entered the United States before they turned 16, and agricultural workers would have a shortened pathway to citizenship.
All of this, however, is contingent on a dramatic, documentable increase in border security. The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) would have to submit border security plans to achieve 90% effectiveness in apprehensions and returns through additional fencing, surveillance, technology and personnel.
The bill allocates$46 billion to improvements, including 20,000 additional patrol officers — in effect doubling the force on the U.S.-Mexico border — and completing 700 miles of fencing. No permanent resident green cards would be issued until those enhancements and others are in place according to DHS. The contingency also includes an employment verification system for all employers.
“The ‘border surge’ represents more of the wrong direction that we have been following for years,” Mefford declared. “Border communities reject this Senate bill because they do not want to live under the occupation of 40,000 troops, nor under the military hardware that includes layers of fencing for hundreds of miles, drones, sensory fencing and helicopters.”
Mefford pointed out that United Methodists have long advocated for genuine immigration reform that is focused on upholding the civil and human rights of immigrants through providing a pathway to citizenship with minimal obstacles and reuniting families, including same-sex families. The United Methodist Social Principles urge recognizing “the gifts, contributions, and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all.”
“Unfortunately, S. 744 does not include these crucial elements,” Mefford said. “While we are not opposing S. 744, we cannot endorse this legislation.”
The attention to immigration reform now turns to the House of Representatives, which is developing its own legislation.
“We will continue to build a movement among United Methodists dedicated to preserving and protecting the rights of all immigrants,” Mefford said. “We will continue to work for genuine reform that is humane and effective.”
The General Board of Church & Society is one of four international general program boards of The United Methodist Church. Prime responsibility of the board is to seek implementation of the Social Principles and other policy statements on Christian social concerns of the General Conference, the denomination’s highest policy-making body. The board’s primary areas of ministry are Advocacy, Education & Leadership Formation, United Nations & International Affairs, and resourcing these areas for the denomination. It has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and at the Church Center for the United Nations in New York City.
Bill Mefford can be reached at (202) 488-5657 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published by Laura Rampersad on May 21st, 2013
TODAY, the SJC will focus on amendments relating to family unity and the pathway to citizenship. Please call ALL SJC OFFICES (listed below) all day Tuesday, May 21. We encourage you to call 202-224-3121. Please refer to each amendment by the sponsor’s NAME and associated NUMBER.
Possible statement you could use -
“As a United Methodist, I urge Senator to SUPPORT Senator Hirono’s Amendment #10, and all Hirono and Blumenthal amendments to improve family unity and make the pathway to citizenship more accessible. I also urge Senator to OPPOSE amendments offered by Senators Grassley and Sessions that would narrow or delay the pathway to citizenship.”
SUPPORT AMENDMENTS TO IMPROVE FAMILY UNITY & PATHWAY TO CITIZENSHIP
ALL HIRONO AMENDMENTS, ESPECIALLY HIRONO #10
Hirono #5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13 would allow U.S. citizens to continue sponsoring their siblings and married children over 31, raise the cut-off date for married kids to 39 instead of 31, and improve the likelihood for these family members to be reunited, especially when their U.S. citizen family member has not used the family visa system before or would experience hardship.
Hirono #12, 14, 16, 17 would allow individuals to pay fines in installments, allow individuals with registered provisional immigrant (RPI) status to sponsor their spouse and children outside of the U.S., provide access to health care for individuals with RPI status, children and pregnant women, and allow states to provide health care to DREAMers, agricultural workers, and some individuals with RPI status.
Published by Laura Rampersad on April 12th, 2013
Comprehensive Immigration Reform is in the news and the ongoing debate is getting a lot of coverage. If you are wondering what the Gang of 8 is debating, we suggest a great article on the Economist blog entitled “Getting There”
We also want to remind you that as things progress, trust JFON to keep you up to date on the issue. We regularly post information on our website and publicize community events and announcements on our JFON Facebook page . There are no stupid questions; In fact, the unasked question often protects damaging myths.
Finally, JFON staff and volunteers are available to speak at public forums, small groups or at your workplace. Contact Laura at L.Rampersad@jfonwestmichigan.org with your questions or to schedule a speaking engagement.
Published by Laura Rampersad on April 6th, 2013
Upcoming Event to Support Refugees
Help support Thrive: A Refugee Support Program by participating in our non-competitive Thrive 5k Fun Run on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at Wyoming High School Stadium located at 1350 Prairie Parkway SW, Wyoming MI. Support this event by registering below as a runner, making a donation on behalf of a runner, volunteering at the event, or making a direct donation to Thrive. Registration Form, Runner Sponsor Form and a flyer are attached below to pass the word to others.
Please register now so we can plan on how many people are coming!
9a Fun Run Start
10a Post-event activities (includes music from WaZoBia drumming!)