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Justice for Our Neighbors: Offering Hospitality to the Immigrant in our Midst

Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? --Isaiah 58:6.

Throughout the Bible, people of faith are exhorted to show kindness to the strangers in their midst. JFON (Justice for our Neighbors) offers United Methodists a way to be faithful to the call.

JFON is a network in mission of the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Annual Conferences, local congregations, and ecumenical partners. The General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church initiated Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) in 1999 as a response to increasingly complex immigration regulations stemming from the far-reaching immigration law of 1996.

The events of September 11, 2001, have complicated the already difficult situation for sojourners by heightening the level of fear and distrust both in the immigrant community and in the general public which has resulted in severe repercussions for newcomers.

The main goal of JFON is to facilitate the mission of United Methodist local congregations in responding to the immigration needs of the sojourners in our midst.

Training Volunteers.

The Work of Local Partners

Participating congregations operate volunteer-based immigration clinics. To initiate a JFON clinic, each congregation must provide space for a clinic and recruit at least ten committed volunteers who will be trained and supervised by a JFON immigration attorney and staff. The JFON program also offers to the local churches and community at large education for mission, outreach, and advocacy.

The JFON Program is a resource for individual congregations and for its national network of clinics. It is not a funding program. Its network includes United Methodist annual conferences, districts, congregations and ecumenical partners.

Whether migration is a response to God's call to move out of our own context to do God's work or whether it is the result of forced exile, our faith tradition calls us to extend a hospitable welcome to newcomers who live among us.

A Gathering of Neighbors.

JFON Volunteers

JFON clinics provides a safe haven to vulnerable immigrants who seek free legal counsel to solve their immigration problems. Clinic volunteers, recruited from United Methodist churches, other congregations, and from immigrant communities help clients prepare their information for their consultation with the JFON attorney. Volunteers serve in a variety of ways:

  • Intake workers are the first contact with clients and gather the necessary information to determine the client's situation.
  • Interpreters assist with translation for those volunteers and clients who need help.
  • Volunteer lawyers receive training in immigration law and do initial assessments as well as follow-up visits with clients.
  • Hospitality workers help with refreshments, provide child care, and greet clients.
  • Case managers review files, make calls and collect documents for each case to be reviewed by the supervising attorney.

How You Can Be Involved

*Make check (with Advance # and "JFON" in memo line) to your local church or "Advance GCFA." For Advance credit, give to your local church treasurer to send to: Advance GCFA, PO Box 9068, GPO, New York, NY 10087-9068.

Volunteer helps a client.

The Mission of JFON is:

  • To provide free, high-quality, immigration legal services and a warm welcome to immigrants in our congregations and communities and at the same time encourage cross-cultural community building.
  • To promote education for ministry and advocacy as an integral part of the JFON program and to encourage deeper theological reflection on biblical imperatives that clarify the moral issues raised by US immigration policy and by our nations treatment of newcomers.

 

Interviewing clients.

  Who Are Our Neighbors?

  • Spouse of a 9/11 victim left stranded in the middle of her immigration process.
  • A hard-working immigrant whose money has gone to pay for worthless legal advice from unscrupulous practitioners.
  • A former client who comes with a donation to help the next folks at the door and say thank you.
  • A grandmother who cares for her preschool grandchildren who have escaped terror and death in their war torn home country.
  • An abused wife whose U.S. citizen husband refuses her access to their child and threatens to get her deported.
  • A homeless Iranian man granted the right to remain in the United States.
  • A 16-year-old Venezuelan girl receiving vital medical treatment not available in her country.

 JFON-UMCOR
 8900 Georgia Ave., Room 208
 Silver Spring, MD 20910
 Telephone: (240)450-1186
 Fax: (240) 450-1188
 Email: general@jfon-umcor.org
 See also: National Network