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
Justice for Our Neighbors offers free, professional legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees in their immigration process. Volunteers coordinate five legal clinics held in United Methodist Churches once a month here in Iowa. A sixth site is soon to be added. The legal services are provided by three immigration lawyers employed by Iowa JFON, including one whose specialty is working with victims of crime or domestic violence as they apply for a lawful immigration status to give their families a stable life. She is Joy Moore. Another attorney is a missionary of the General Board of Global Ministry (GBGM) by the name of Brynne Howard. She is a Church and Community Worker who is shared by the Iowa Annual Conference and GBGM. Our third attorney is Ann Naffier, with fourteen years of experience in immigrant and refugee legal services. Our attorney team is supported by our bilingual legal secretary Grisell Herrera, a recently naturalized U.S. citizen.
This very efficient and effective immigration legal team travels the state of Iowa several times a month. Here is a summary of their work for the first six months of 2014. Remember these numbers are not just statistics. They represent immigrants and refugees who have found here in Iowa a stable place to work, to educate their children, to learn English, to become a part of communities where many of them are finding peace and safety that they have not experienced in a long time. These numbers represent people who have entered a United Methodist Church where they have been greeted with smiles, a friendly handshake, a listening ear, a cup of coffee and a cookies, a place for their children to play and an attorney who can answer their questions about immigration law and how it will effect their own lives and those of their families.
By the end of May, 2014, Iowa JFON attorneys provided advice and counsel to 316 immigrant and refugee clients to learn their options under current immigration law. They helped 195 clients escape violence. This escape may have come through the Violence Against Women Act for survivors of domestic violence. It may have come through the immigrant seeking and being granted asylum because of the efforts of JFON. Iowa JFON helped 193 clients to unify their families. Some of this family unification came as a result of family members coming from refugee camps to join a family member in Iowa. Some unification may be children joining their immigrant parents after long separations.
FON helped 61 people become naturalized United States citizens. These are people who are continuing their assimilation into our country after having learned English and studied our government. Ninety-six people were assisted in working lawfully in the U.S. The origins of our 2014 clients are Africa—97, South America—5, Central America-85, North America—5., Asua-45, Europe—6 and Oceania—5.
Be assured that Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors staff and district representatives to the standing committee feel grateful to the churches and members of the Iowa Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church who are supportive with their prayers, their gifts and some volunteers with their direct service. We can only provide this ministry because of your faithfulness.