Undocumented immigrants or those with questions related to their immigration status live in daily fear. They fear being identified, detained and eventually deported and separated from their loved ones. Children of undocumented parents fear that one day they will lose their parents to deportation. This overwhelming fear, which affects all aspects of their lives and those of their families, often, leaves immigrants prey to exploitation and abuse from employers and other unethical persons.
Additionally, many immigrants do not understand the complicated immigration process and might not speak English, making them vulnerable to unscrupulous law practitioners who charge them large fees while providing little to no help and may even provide erroneous information putting them in further jeopardy. While many of the undocumented immigrants currently residing in the US are eligible for legal residency, many are not clear about how to proceed and may not be able to afford reliable representation.
Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) is one way in which churches can help dispel some of this fear and walk alongside immigrants as they come out of hiding to seek remedy for their immigration situations. Motivated by Christian values of love, justice, and compassion JFON provides reliable legal advice and representation to vulnerable, low-income immigrants in our communities by helping them to navigate through a very confusing and labyrinthine system.
Perhaps more importantly, JFON strives to create an environment of safe haven and hospitality within which immigrant newcomers and long-term citizens may come to know one another as neighbors in God's household. Through interaction with JFON, immigrants not only receive immigration counseling, but also find community ? places to belong and contribute.
National JFON (NJFON) works on two levels. Firstly, NJFON advises, trains, and resources new churches and Annual Conferences in starting a local JFON ministry. We educate prospective partners on the reality of the immigration system, and encourage them to explore how Jesus's teaching may inform their view of the immigration system and help achieve immigration policies that better reflect Christian love. Additionally, NJFON provides guidance in the areas of coalition building, board development, non-profit basics, and fundraising.
Secondly, NJFON supports and strengthens existing JFON Regional Projects by providing assistance in opening new clinics; conducting volunteer, leadership and board trainings; providing advice relating to organizational development, strategic planning and fundraising; and guiding, mentoring and supporting local legal staff.
Since 1999, JFON has grown to a network of fourteen locally funded and managed Regional Projects operating 34 church based immigration legal clinics. JFON serves more than 3,000 new low-income clients a year. More than numbers can express, JFON changes lives ? reuniting families after years of separation; helping immigrant women suffering domestic violence to self-petition for lawful residency; assisting refugees in bringing their families to the US; assisting asylum seekers in filing applications for protection from persecution or even death; helping victims of trafficking apply for protection, helping immigrant communities better understand their rights; and responding quickly to emerging threats such as workplace raids.
Goals & Objectives
NJFON's goals are as follows:
1.) To ensure strong and sustainable JFON affiliate programs by providing an annual training opportunity for key volunteers, staff, and leaders of existing JFON regional projects. The training, JFON's Annual Leadership Summit, will cover topics such as organizational and board development, fundraising, program development, networking, and outreach. Additionally, prospective JFON projects may be invited to participate in the Summit prior to or soon after submitting their application to start JFON.
2.) To provide capacity building grants to existing JFON projects. Grants may be used for the following activities: board training, volunteer recruitment, and/or training, outreach ? including developing materials ? community organizing and advocacy, and other appropriate activities.
3.) To grow the JFON network through education and outreach and by providing matching grants to enable new and/or prospective JFON projects to open.
1.) Determine annually (through reports and/or surveys) the training needs of the JFON Affiliate Network; select a location for the Summit; create a training curriculum including workshops, plenary sessions, and appropriate materials; handle all meeting logistics; follow up with all attendees to ensure that their needs were met and learning is being applied.
2.) Determine the organizational priorities and open a Request for Proposals (RFP) to all existing JFON projects; review and make determinations as to which proposals to fund; follow up with all funded projects to ensure that stated goals and objectives are met.
3.) NJFON will provide educational and promotional events directed at educating the public and the United Methodist Churches generally on immigration policies, as well as on how the JFON ministry responds to such policies. In addition to enabling and encouraging new local JFON projects, these activities also contribute to the strengthening and broadening of support for NJFON within The United Methodist Church.
Once NJFON Staff and board of directors have approved a prospective new JFON Regional Project, determine if providing a small ($5-10K) matching grant would have a meaningful impact on the strength and sustainability of said project. Those approved for a grant would need to submit a plan for matching these funds with new individual or church-based funding; follow up with approved projects each quarter to track implementation and progress.