Join the Welcome Corps

Join the Welcome Corps

By Karlene Neal, Advocate for Immigrants and Refugees, Board of Global Ministries The State Department and the U.S. government are starting Welcome Corps, which is groups of ordinary citizens that will welcome refugees into their communities.  Each local group, made up of at least five Americans, will welcome and host refugee newcomers. They help in several ways: meeting the refugees at the airport, finding housing, employment, and furnishings, enrolling children in school, and finding ...

Biden’s border policy

Biden’s border policy

By Karlene Neal, Advocate for Immigrants and Refugees, Board of Global Ministries A recent surge of immigrants at the southern border of the United States has presented both Mexico and the United States with serious problems. In 2022 U.S. authorities stopped 2.8 million would-be immigrants at its southern border.  As a result, Biden announced some of his toughest sanctions yet: only 30,000 will be allowed in total each month from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Haiti, and Cuba, provided they do not pass ...

New ID card for immigrants

New ID card for immigrants

By: Karlene Neal, Advocate for Immigrants and Refugees, Board of Global Ministries U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) faces an unprecedented influx of migrants at the border. The majority are turned back to their native countries, but those who might be eligible for asylum in the U.S. are processed and released into the U.S. pending a hearing on their application. ICE is developing a new ID card for migrants to facilitate this long application process.   This card is called a “...

Supreme Court reverses

Supreme Court reverses "Wait in Mexico" policy

By: Karlene Neal, Conference Advocate for Immigrants and Refugees In 2017 President Trump signed an executive order requiring migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico until their scheduled hearings. This order was part of President Trump’s attempt to deal with the large numbers of migrants seeking entry into the U.S. Other steps taken by President Trump were building a wall, banning migrants from countries with majority-Muslim populations, rescinding the DACA program (undocumented ...

Want to help provide items needed for refugees getting settled in Iowa?

Want to help provide items needed for refugees getting settled in Iowa?

Karlene Neal, Advocate for Immigrants and Refugees, Board of Global Ministries, shares that the Des Moines Refugee Support organization has a page on Amazon which lists many items needed for new residents in Iowa. Her understanding is that when the order is placed, it is sent to the organization which has a collection center in Des Moines.  The Amazon Wish List contains everyday household and personal items to help immigrants get settled in Iowa. Your generosity welcomes and shows how Iowan ...

Refugees arriving in Iowa need our help

Refugees arriving in Iowa need our help

By Karlene Neal, Advocate for Immigrants and Refugees Refugees are arriving in Iowa with nothing but a few personal belongings. They need our help. Des Moines is the area of the state most active in helping this process. Following is the information I have to date.     Des Moines Refugee Support is a group that is organized for the purpose of helping to supply the items that help a family get settled in the apartment to which they have been assigned. They have a list of items that are needed ...

How you can help Afghan refugees coming to Iowa

How you can help Afghan refugees coming to Iowa

Karlene Neal, Advocate for Immigrants and Refugees, who is on the Iowa Conference's Board of Global Ministries shares that more than 1000 refugees are expected to be coming to Iowa during the coming year. They will be coming as humanitarian parolees and their needs are great because they have had to leave everything behind and flee. "They're just people that unfortunately, their home countries are unsafe for them," Kerri True-Funk, director of USCRI in Des Moines, said. "They are coming here to...

Plans for immigration reform

Plans for immigration reform

By Karlene Neal, Advocate for Immigrants and Refugees, Board of Global Ministries As promised by President Biden during his campaign for the presidency, he has announced a plan for immigration reform. If enacted, it would modernize the nation’s immigration system and provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented Americans. This is an issue that has been a serious problem for many years, and several administrations have been unable to come to an agreement on a plan. Many ...

Exciting future for Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors

Exciting future for Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors

For the last 21 years, Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON) has provided legal services to support immigrants and refugees in the state of Iowa as a ministry of the Iowa Annual Conference. In April 2021, Justice For Our Neighbors will merge with the American Friends Service Committee* to create the Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice with continued support from the Iowa Annual Conference and the national JFON network.    Iowa Migrant Movement for Justice will continue to provide legal service for...

Does global warming affect migration?

Does global warming affect migration?

by Karlene Neal, Advocate for Immigrants and Refugees   An article recently published by the New York Times Magazine, in cooperation with ProPublica, describes the connection between global warming and people's migration. The authors used climate and economic-development data to examine scenarios.   For most of human history, mankind has lived within a surprisingly narrow range of temperatures where there is abundant food production. This zone seems to be moving northward, and drought ...

Crowded camps next to the border

Crowded camps next to the border

July 15, 2020 by Karlene Neal   There are more than 2000 would-be migrants living in Mexico along the border in tents. They are very crowded and often have families.  Mexico is trying to be a good host but supplies such as safe water, food, medicines, and adequate toilets are limited.  Avoiding coronavirus is extremely difficult. They are awaiting permission to speak to an immigration judge ...

Supreme Court ruling on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

Supreme Court ruling on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

7/17/2020 By: Karlene Neal President Trump tried again to deport the young people (so called Dreamers) who were brought illegally into the US when they were still children. They have lived in the United States all their lives. President Obama, through Executive Order, gave 650,000 of these young, undocumented immigrants permission to live and work in the US without fear of deportation. President Trump tried to reverse Obama’s action through the courts. The Supreme Court blocked Trump’s action, ...

Trump tightens procedures for migrants trying to gain asylum

Trump tightens procedures for migrants trying to gain asylum

By: Karlene Neal Jose had risked his life trying to cross the border illegally with his mother. Finally he was given a chance to tell a judge his story. The judge asked Jose three questions: What’s your nationality? Why did you leave your country?  Why can’t you go back?  The judge accepted his explanation and granted him protection from deportation. (Just a tiny fraction of migrants, less than 1%, have been able to get a hearing.)  But the immigration officers ordered him to go back to Mexico ...

Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors celebrating 20 years of ministry

Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors celebrating 20 years of ministry

Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) will celebrate its 20th anniversary this month, and you are invited. The board of Iowa JFON is encouraging everyone to join to learn about its history as well as the plans for the future of JFON in our state.  Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors is a non-profit organization, welcoming low-income immigrants of all faiths into churches and communities by providing free, high-quality immigration legal services, education, and advocacy.  Established by the United ...

New policy on asylum seekers

New policy on asylum seekers

Oct. 1, 2019 According to a recent Supreme Court decision, the Trump administration can deny asylum to most migrants coming to the southern border.  This policy will allow border personnel to reject anyone who passed through another country on their way to the United States unless they apply for and then are rejected safe haven in the first country they pass through upon leaving their home country.  This means that most would-be asylum seekers fleeing dangerous situations in their homeland will ...

New rules for immigrants

New rules for immigrants

Since the 19th century, self-sufficiency has been a foundation of U.S. immigration law. The Trump administration has expanded the definition “public charge” concerning immigrants. This policy makes it harder for legal migrants who use public benefits to get a green card. Low-income and less-educated foreigners will have a more difficult time getting into the U.S. Mike Howell, a former Department of Homeland Security and now an advisor at the Heritage Foundation, says, “If fully enforced, it’s ...

A model for alternatives to stemming migration

By: Karlene Neal Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church Advocate for Immigrants and Refugees On Feb. 3, Nayib Bukele was elected the new president for El Salvador. Citizens of El Salvador demanded a policy of clean governance, which was Bukele’s main promise. He has invited the UN to set up an anti-corruption committee in El Salvador, similar to those which have been set up in Guatemala and Honduras which have had some success. Curbing corruption will free up tax revenue which ...

Changes in policy for immigrants/refugees

One of the strengths of our democracy is to have the right to challenge policy that Governments have put in place when a new administration takes office.  Jeff Sessions, previously the US Attorney General, did that upon taking office. President Obama and previous presidents had made policy regarding treatment of immigrants, border issues, and number of refugees admitted each year.  But upon President Trump’s taking office, his new Attorney-General, Jeff Sessions, had the right to amend policy to...

Migrant Caravan

Migrant Caravan

What started as a group of 160 people from the Honduran crime-ridden city of San Pedro Sula has swelled to more than 7000 in Mexico City.  They are fleeing persecution, poverty, and violence in their home countries, primarily Honduras although people from Guatemala and El Salvador are also part of the group. Spreading word through social media, their numbers grew. They have banded together seeking safety in numbers. Migrants traveling alone face many dangers, including people traffickers, drug ...

'Zero tolerance' Bible quote criticized

'Zero tolerance' Bible quote criticized

By Sam Hodges June 15, 2018 | UMNS U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ quoting of a New Testament verse to justify a new zero tolerance policy on illegal immigration has brought a fresh round of criticism from religious leaders, including fellow United Methodists. Sessions used a June 14 address in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to defend the Trump administration’s tougher approach on immigration as being in the national interest and children’s safety. He specifically noted the criticism he’d received ...

What We Believe: Immigration

What We Believe: Immigration

What We Believe: United Methodist Perspectives on Immigration in the United States Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2) “Welcoming the Migrant to the US” is a hallmark of United Methodist communities of faith, according to the 2016 Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church. “Throughout Scripture,” document 3281 notes, “the people of God are called to love sojourners in our midst, treating them ...

"God bless this holy place and all who enter here"

Psalm 127:1 Unless it is the Lord who builds the house, the builder’s work is pointless. Unless it is the Lord who protects the city, the guard on duty is pointless.   “You are the ones who are building the house, you are the ones who are protecting those who are defenseless, and God blesses you for your ministry here,” read Bishop Laurie Haller at the blessing celebrating the new office of Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON) on March 15, 2018.   “We think that all means all, and that all ...

Migration from Mexico

Migration from Mexico

Over the past 15 years the net migration from Mexico to the US has been falling. Slower population growth, better schools, and the improving economy have combined to  encourage Mexicans to stay at home. Now immigrants more often come from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. Some subgroups such as women and children traveling alone, and LGBTQ persons are fleeing persecution at home. Mexico has stepped up its border patrol, especially at their southern border. As the journey becomes riskier more...

What United Methodists Believe...

What United Methodists Believe...

On the topic of Immigration… “We recognize, embrace, and affirm all persons, regardless of country of origin, as members of the family of God. We affirm the right of all persons to equal opportunities for employment, access to housing, health care, education, and freedom from social discrimination. We urge the Church and society to recognize the gifts, contributions, and struggles of those who are immigrants and to advocate for justice for all.” -United Methodist Social Principles, “The Social ...

Immigration Ministry Reunites Families

A Marshalltown woman faced a family crisis a few years ago when doctors explained that her 5-year-old had a life expectancy of only six years. She had a full-time job on the production line of the local Swift plant, so she had a steady income to care for family needs. The father was the primary caregiver for their house-bound child with the support of a nurse who was assigned to the child for four hours each day.   Given the extreme circumstances of their child’s health, the couple was managing ...



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