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 December, 2009. Ms. Mendoza started working in this field in 2008 at the MUNA legal clinic.
Both Ms. Mendoza and Ms. Herrera completed lengthy training and practice with Iowa JFON, and, in Ms. Mendoza’s case, with previous immigration employment. The process of collecting all the documentation of their immigration-related work experience, including application forms, certificates from training courses, conferences, other educational activities and letters of recommendation, took over a year. Ms. Mendoza specializes in assisting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Ms. Herrera assists a variety of JFON clients.
It is very helpful to Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors to have two new BIA accredited representatives in order to broaden and deepen its ability to help immigrant and refugee clients who come to the six church-based immigration legal clinics in Decorah, Cedar Rapids, Storm Lake, Des Moines, Columbus Junction and Ottumwa. Their new designation builds the capacity of JFON to serve even more refugees and immigrants here in Iowa.
When considering why these two excellent members of the JFON staff pursued their BIA accreditation here is what they say:
I really enjoy working with JFON. I mainly work with victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault. I heard horrible stories of violence against human beings. It is very sad to hear their stories but at the same time it motivates me to work harder in their cases so they can be free of violence. It is very rewarding to know that these victims will have a better future, thanks to the fact that there are these places that help victims with low resources.
I love so much to work with JFON. The fact of working related to immigration law has allowed me to learn many things, not only since the legal point of view but also to learn firsthand about human suffering. I had nothing to do with legal matters and even less with immigration, so to me this new stage in my life has been very instructive and exciting. The most important thing is the opportunity to know those people who come to JFON looking for help because of the risk to be deported, many people who are undocumented and see their families split apart.
Ms. Herrera and Ms. Mendoza join the four immigration attorneys Ann Naffier, Brynne Howard, April Palma and Emily Sohn Rebelsky in representing the care of the Iowa United Methodist Church for immigrants and refugees in our midst.