News

Justice For Our Neighbors


July JFON Newsletter

July JFON Newsletter

7/17/2018
Iowa JFON Newsletter July 2018 "Keeping Families Together"

Bishop's statement on family separation

Bishop's statement on family separation

6/15/2018
Dear Friends, Last week, the United Methodist Council of Bishops joined other faith organizations in issuing a statement asking the United States government to end its policy of separating immigrant families. The statement includes these words, “Recently, the U.S. Administration announced that it will begin separating families and criminally prosecuting all people who enter the U.S. without previous authorization. As religious leaders representing diverse faith perspectives, united in our ...

Iowa JFON Luncheon during AC2018

Iowa JFON Luncheon during AC2018

5/18/2018
Enjoy great ethnic food from members of Trinity Las Americas. Get to know our Iowa JFON's staff and board members. Saturday, June 9, 2018, Noon - 1:30 p.m. Learn more about Iowa JFON and our current projects.

Justice For Our Neighbors quarterly newsletter

Justice For Our Neighbors quarterly newsletter

3/15/2018
Click to read the March 2018 JFON newsletter.

JFON Staff Attorney or Fully Accredited Representative

JFON Staff Attorney or Fully Accredited Representative

2/20/2018
Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors (Iowa JFON) is a non-profit organization and a mission of the United Methodist Church. Our mission is to welcome immigrants and refugees of all faiths into our churches and communities by providing free, high-quality immigration legal services, education, and advocacy. Iowa JFON seeks a highly motivated, self-directed professional to join their team as a Staff Attorney or Fully Accredited Representative. Iowa JFON provides legal clinics in 7 different locations ...

Happy Holidays for JFON

Happy Holidays for JFON

12/27/2017
Click to read our quarterly newsletter.

With Singleness of Heart and Action

With Singleness of Heart and Action

12/14/2017
FROM NATIONAL JUSTICE FOR OUR NEIGHBORS With Singleness of Heart and Action Iowa JFON’s first executive director continues the fight for justice In May 2008, Sol Varisco was working with Catholic Charities of Iowa. An Argentine immigrant teacher who had studied at Iowa State University, Sol was in charge of coordinating a state-wide emergency response for an immigration raid they all suspected would soon be coming. “The Bush administration had already approved a lot of money for raids,” she ...

Sol Varisco appointed Executive Director of Justice For Our Neighbors

Sol Varisco appointed Executive Director of Justice For Our Neighbors

11/15/2017
Maria Sol Varisco-Santini was appointed to become Iowa JFON’s next Executive Director. She took the reins on Monday November 13, 2017. The Committee is thrilled that Sol has accepted this position. Committee Chair Frank Camp said, “After interviewing several candidates in our search for a new ED over 12 months, we believe Sol has the experience, passion and initiative that we were looking for and have needed for so long.” She brings experience from another not-for-profit organization providing...

JFON National Board of Trustees member gives thanks

8/15/2017
The work of Justice for Our Neighbors is a fascinating effort on the part of many diverse groups throughout the country.  A challenging job is made harder in a climate of fear and suspicion such as we see surrounding us in these times.  Even those that truly qualify for legal status and assistance approach completing the required tasks with caution from apprehension about what might change tomorrow.  Such is the world JFON serves.  The honor of serving on the National Board of Trustees has ...

August 2017 JFON newsletter to churches

8/2/2017
Click here to read the August newsletter to churches.

Marshalltown JFON clinic truly a team effort

Marshalltown JFON clinic truly a team effort

8/2/2017
The vision for a Justice for Our Neighbors clinic began years ago when Judy Kading lived in Marshalltown. As you are well aware, this has long been a passion for Judy. She led study groups among United Methodists and others, eventually making an application for a Marshalltown clinic. However, that application was denied. I believe, Cedar Rapids received the new clinic at that time. The thought was that persons from Marshalltown could seek assistance from the already established and growing Des ...

JFON July Newsletter

7/5/2017
Click here to read the July 2017 Newsletter

2017 AILA Chapter Pro Bono Champions

2017 AILA Chapter Pro Bono Champions

6/29/2017
The American Immigration Lawyers Association, a national organization, held its annual meeting last week in New Orleans. Justice for Our Neighbors attorney Ann Naffier was nominated by the Iowa-Nebraska AILA chapter for their annual award called Pro Bono Champions. Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors is very proud of Ann and of all on our team of attorneys.

Our Gift to You is a Gift for Mission

Our Gift to You is a Gift for Mission

6/29/2017
Detailed in the graphics with this article is the extent to which the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is reaching out every day to help immigrants and refugees through the service of a hard-working staff at Justice for Our Neighbors.   The team of four attorneys: Brynne Howard, Ann Naffier, April Palma and Emily Sohn Rebelskey, augmented by the two BIA-accredited reps Grisell Herrera and Laura Mendoza, along with the able efforts of legal assistant Racheal Duang is ...

JFON Report from CLINIC Convening

6/16/2017
Justice for Our Neighbors staff members Laura Mendoza, a native of Mexico, and Grisell Herrera, a native of Cuba, submitted the following report regarding their recent trip to Atlanta, GA to attend the CLINIC Convening, which is a large conference for BIA Accredited Representatives. Both Grisell and Laura are accredited Representatives of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Their extensive preparation in immigration law helps to add value to the services of JFON here in Iowa.     By Grisell ...

JFON's June newsletter

6/2/2017
Click here to read the JFON's June newsletter to churches.

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed.”

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed.”

12/19/2016
“The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice.  The Lord is  a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.”  —Psalm 9: 7-9             The words of Psalms are often inspirational. This is a passage that inspires the work of Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), a ministry of the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. This Psalm reminds us that justice is a ...

JFON's December Newsletter

11/28/2016
Click here to read Justice for Our Neighbor's December newsletter.

JFON congratulates employees for BIA accreditations

11/21/2016
   Justice for Our Neighbors, a standing committee of the Iowa Annual Conference’s Board of Global Ministries, congratulates Laura Mendoza and Grisell Herrera, JFON employees, for obtaining their accreditation in August, 2016, with the Board of Immigration Appeals.  Because Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors is recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals, it is allowed to supervise accredited representatives like Ms. Mendoza and Ms. Herrera. Ms. Herrera has been the Office Manager with JFON since...

To Congress: Introduce, pass the DREAM Act

To Congress: Introduce, pass the DREAM Act

11/17/2016
Brynne Howard, Des Moines, Letter to the Editor of The Des Moines Register In the four years since President Barack Obama announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), immigration attorneys like me have helped hundreds of thousands of DREAMers throughout the country apply for the program. Every time I met with an applicant for the first time, we talked about what might happen once Obama left office. I warned that the program was temporary, that a new president could take it away and ...

John Rothlisberger named to National JFON Board of Directors

John Rothlisberger named to National JFON Board of Directors

10/31/2016
John Rothlisberger, Fredericksburg United Methodist Church, has been invited to serve on the board of directors of National Justice for Our Neighbors.  John is the first Iowan to serve on this board in the 17 years that the Iowa Annual Conference has been a site for Justice for Our Neighbors. Since UMCOR’s founding in 1940, refugee ministry has been at the heart of its work, guided by Christian values of hospitality to the stranger. Justice for Our Neighbors was orginally started by UMCOR, ...

Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors announces job openings

7/18/2016
Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors is announcing job openings in our office due to the beginning of a new project based on an award from the federal government through the Iowa Attorney General's Office. This award is from the Victim Services Support Program funds. This project will focus on immigrant victims of crime and begins with the July 1 fiscal year. While JFON will continue the church-based legal clinics with a 17 year history here in Iowa, this new project will enable JFON to add several ...

JFON's July 2016 Newsletter

JFON's July 2016 Newsletter

7/7/2016
Click here to read JFON's July 2016 newsletter

Disappointment with immigration ruling

Disappointment with immigration ruling

6/28/2016
The United Methodist Church officially is in “support of just and fair immigration policies that benefit and allow the family to preserve and maintain its unity.” Methodists in support of immigration reform marched down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard outside the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. File photo by Mike DuBose, UMNS.

The Church at It’s Best

The Church at It’s Best

6/21/2016
The Church at It’s Best—Reaching Out in Mission Supported by Church and Community Workers For seventeen years the Iowa Annual Conference has supported a Church and Community Worker assigned to Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors. The first person was Judy Kading, then came Allison Brown, followed by Trina Scott Zuor and now Brynne Howard. The contributions of these Church and Community Workers, who are missionaries with the General Board of Global Ministries, have helped to make Justice for Our ...

Daddy’s Home

Daddy’s Home

6/7/2016
After a decade of war, a blessed and peaceful Father’s Day  As an Iraqi civil engineer working with the U.S. forces, Omar’s life was in constant danger. He learned to take precautions: not answering phone calls from unknown numbers, frequently changing his schedule and his route to work, and even moving his family. He wasn’t the only one with a target on his back; the militias also threatened his wife, young daughters, and family members.  Read the full story on the National Justice for Our ...

God “loves the righteous”—Psalm 146

6/3/2016
In the Disciples by The Upper Room for June 1, I came across thoughts about God’s desire for righteousness, which seem to apply to us, here and now, in the United Methodist Church, as supporters of the ministry of Justice for Our Neighbors.  “In the midst of reciting God’s acts of compassion on behalf of the oppressed and hurting, the psalmist writes this new and different line: The Lord loves the righteous.”   “And who are the righteous? We might assume they are morally perfect people. Instead ...

JFON's June 2016 Newsletter

5/18/2016
Click here to read JFON's June Newsletter

JFON's May 2016 Newsletter

5/18/2016
Click here to read JFON's May Newsletter

JFON's April 2016 newsletter

4/13/2016
Click here to read JFON's April newsletter

What “the transformation of the world” really looks like

4/7/2016
By Judy Kading “The mission of the United Methodist Church is to create disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”   I have often wondered what “the transformation of the world” really looks like.  Likewise, I have questioned how “to create disciples of Jesus Christ” to make that happen.  Does it only happen in the four walls of a church building? Does it only happen on Sunday morning during a moving church service?   My involvement with the many volunteers who participate ...

Iowa JFON supports funding of the Refugee Rise Americorps program

Iowa JFON supports funding of the Refugee Rise Americorps program

3/30/2016
Htay, right, was an interpreter for Kwa at the March "Green Card" Clinic. Both are refugees from Burma.

JFON sends brief to Supreme Court

JFON sends brief to Supreme Court

3/9/2016
News Release   National Justice for Our Neighbors Date: March 8, 2016 Contact: Rob Rutland-Brown, Executive Director (703) 766-0442              National Justice for Our Neighbors and the Entire Justice for Our Neighbors Network Urge the Supreme Court to Allow the Expanded DACA and DAPA Programs to Move Forward   Today, National Justice for Our Neighbors, on behalf of the entire Justice for Our Neighbors Network, filed an Amicus Curiae (i.e., friend of the court) Brief before the U.S. Supreme ...

Immigration attorney April Palma reaches out to children and teens

Immigration attorney April Palma reaches out to children and teens

2/25/2016
April Palma is completing her first year of working as an immigration attorney with Justice for Our Neighbors here in Iowa. She was hired to carry on a fledgling program that reaches out to the children and teens who have come to Iowa from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. This program was begun in the summer of 2014 when a hotline was established. The obvious need dictated that JFON, as a Matthew 25 Ministry should become more involved. Here is one of the reasons why we are glad that we ...

Fleeing from Iraq

2/18/2016
Ann Naffier of Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors shares some recent successes.  The generous support of individuals and churches of the Iowa Annual Conference makes this ministry possible.  Thank you.   Fleeing from Iraq  Omar* is a mechanical engineer from Iraq, who worked closely with the U.S. army in Iraq throughout that last decade.  He also worked with an international project specifically focusing on women’s economic rights in Iraq.  From the beginning of his cooperation with the U.S. and the...

As gang violence worsens, more Salvadorans flee

2/5/2016
GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala, Feb 3 (UNHCR) – Repeatedly shaken down by gang members for a weekly US$30 protection payment he could barely afford, Salvadoran bus driver Javier filed a complaint with the police. A family man with two teenage daughters, he recalls waking up at 3:00 am the next day with a knot of fear in his stomach. The six block walk to work at the central bus station in San Salvador stretched to an eternity as he anticipated a violent reprisal. Read on.  

Refugees Get Helping Hand

Refugees Get Helping Hand

2/3/2016
JFON immigration attorney Brynne Howard working at refugee "green card" legal clinic.

Justice for Our Neighbors Brings Burmese Refugee Couple Together

7/6/2015
Ram Ling* is the first client I met when I came to JFON.  He was a Burmese refugee who had fled from Burma to Malaysia in 2006, and was allowed to come to the United States as a refugee in 2007.  When he left Burma, he had left behind a young wife, Ma Hup, with whom he was very much in love.  But Ram did not understand the immigration laws of the United States.  He did not realize that he could have applied to have his wife join him here immediately after his arrival.  Instead, he thought that ...

Lending a Hand—A $5,000 Matching Grant for Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors

Lending a Hand—A $5,000 Matching Grant for Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors

7/1/2015
 Lending a hand to someone is a good feeling.  Maybe you helped with something as simple as carrying a bunch of sacks or boxes from the car to the church.   Maybe you said “yes” when asked to help at VBS  or to be on a committee renovating the kitchen.  Lending a hand can be a small or a large gesture, but it’s a way to feel good and to accomplish a task, a way to help another person and to show that you care. Here at Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors we need you to lend a hand to help us meet an ...

No One Should Live Like This

6/17/2015
(From Iowa JFON Attorney April Palma’s June 6, 2015, Staff Report to the Justice for Our Neighbors Standing Committee of the  Conference Board of Global Ministries.  ALL names have been changed to protect identities of clients and others.) Sandra is a 17 year old from El Salvador.  Last summer her parents sent her away from their home with instructions not to return because they could no longer support her.  Growing up Sandra was physically abused by her mother.  Her mother has severe anxiety ...

Short and Sweet and a Matching Grant

6/17/2015
Our visitor from National Justice for Our Neighbors, a ministry receiving grants from UMCOR, came to annual conference bearing gifts.   Rob Rutland-Brown, Executive Director in the national office that supports our Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors, announced a matching grant of up to $5,000 starting on July 1.   Rob was with us less than 24 hours, but was able to meet with four different groups to tell the story of the valuable work of this ministry that has long been associated with UMCOR, the ...

The Quality of Mercy

6/17/2015
(From Iowa JFON Attorney Ann Naffier’s June 6, 2015 Staff Report to the Justice for Our Neighbors Standing Committee of the  Conference Board of Global Ministries.) Betty was born in Honduras, but came to the U.S. with her mother when she was just three years old.  Betty grew up in Iowa, graduated from high school, and started her own family here, but she was undocumented.  Like many undocumented, she resorted to using false documents to work in order to support her family.  Unfortunately, she ...

The Good Dad

The Good Dad

6/7/2015
Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can. These famous words from John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodist Church, have been a clarion call for generations of people, inspiring them to go out into the world and do more. Frank Camp, clinic volunteer and board chair for Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors, is one who answered that call.  Frank, an attorney ...

Touching Lives - NJFON April Update

4/7/2015
Read the National Justice For Our Neighbors - April 2015 Update

United Methodist Women Recognizes Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors with Grant

2/23/2015
The logo of the United Methodist Women not only bears the cross and flame and the name of the organization, but also the words “FAITH—HOPE—LOVE IN ACTION.” How much difference those two little words “in action” make to an organization of Christian women!!     As an inheritor of the Wesley DNA and as an inheritor of the dedication of generations of women of several denominations who joined together to support mission for women, children and youth, the UMW has long been concerned about society’s ...

United Methodists praise president’s immigration order

11/24/2014
By Kathy L. Gilbert and Sam Hodges Nov. 21, 2014 |NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) President Barack Obama’s immigration plan offers “a word of mercy and a measure of justice,” saidUnited Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño, co-chair of the denomination’s interagency task force onimmigration reform. The plan means undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years and have children who are U.S. citizens or residents “can now come out of the shadows,” said Carcaño, episcopal leader ...

What is the United Methodist Church doing in the midst of the humanitarian crisis at the southern border of the United States?

11/20/2014
Where is God in the midst of the suffering that impels children and single mothers with babies and toddlers to risk a difficult journey from El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras to arrive in the U.S.?  How can Christians understand the fear of violence and poverty that motivates unaccompanied children or teens, mothers with small children to leave their homes?  See the National Justice for Our Neighbors website for articles to help United Methodists look at the humans behind the statistics that we...

Hospitality in our Heartland

Hospitality in our Heartland

11/1/2014
By Melissa Bowe, NJFON Program Manager   Decorah is about 15 miles south of the Minnesota-Iowa border and is the northernmost town in Iowa. It is also the newest clinic location for Iowa-JFON. I had the distinct pleasure of flying to Wisconsin a few weeks ago and driving across farm country to the new clinic to meet and train their volunteers.   One thing was clear from the onset of my visit: legal information for immigrants is in high demand. I don’t know how many of you remember when the “...

Measuring Our Work at the End of May, 2014: Hospitality and a Better Future

Measuring Our Work at the End of May, 2014: Hospitality and a Better Future

5/31/2014
At Lovely Lane UMC in Cedar Rapids many volunteers, including college students, sit with JFON clients while waiting for their consultation with Ann Naffier, JFON attorney for this legal clinic site

Brynne Howard is Valuable Resource for Community Meeting

Brynne Howard is Valuable Resource for Community Meeting

Justice for Our Neighbors attorneys spend the majority of their time with clients.   Another aspect of their value to the immigrant community and to the religious community is serving as resources for advocacy.  In northwest Iowa on June 14 a day of panels on topics related to immigration was held at Our Place Multicultural Center in Storm Lake.  JFON’s Brynne Howard, Esq. was invited to participate in a panel on the DACA program.  (Above at right: Brynne Howard explains immigration issue to ...

Justice for Our Neighbors Depends on the Whole Church Community

Justice for Our Neighbors Depends on the Whole Church Community

A successful lunch during the Iowa Annual Conference  gathered supporters of Iowa Justice for  Our Neighbors  and members and friends of the Conference Board of Global Ministries.  A record crowd of 100 folks came to Trinity United Methodist Church where Las Americas Comunidad de Fe and Amor y Paz members prepared some excellent Latino fare.  Many thank-you’s to all of the JFON volunteers who helped with the food preparation, the serving, the program and the clean-up. Two JFON attorneys spoke ...

We Couldn’t Do the Ministry Without You

The generosity of the donation at the Iowa Annual Conference is another reminder that Justice for Our Neighbors couldn’t minister to refugees and immigrants without the over-whelming support of faithful United Methodists here in Iowa.   The collection of  $5,766.00 during the Ordering of Ministry Service is humbling, but motivating as well.   What a good feeling to know that our volunteers who give their time and energy and prayers are supported by the Iowa Annual Conference members in this ...