JFON event highlights the struggles of immigrants

November 07, 2016


JFON Dinner/Auction 2016 from New England Conference UMC on Vimeo.

New England Justice For Our Neighbors (NEJFON) hosted its second annual dinner and auction on Nov. 5, 2016 at Lexington UMC and St. John’s Korean UMC in Lexington, MA.

NEJFON has three clinics – Portland, ME, and Springfield and Woburn, MA – that provide free legal services to immigrants and asylum seekers who want to obtain legal residence or U.S. citizenship.

In welcoming the guests, Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar said, “One of the faithful practices of The United Methodist Church is radical hospitality.”
Quoting from “Radical Hospitality: Benedict's Way of Love: Benedict's Way of Love” by Lonni Collins Pratt and Father Daniel Homan, the bishop defined what that means, saying: “[Radical hospitality returns] us to our roots, our true heart home in God, the God who welcomes us as we are, where we are, who we are.”

“Friends, that is what JFON is actually doing. Through its advocacy, it’s telling all the children of God that it does not matter what the color of your skin is, or what your accent is or where you live. It says to all: ‘You are my siblings’. … JFON says to all: ‘Do not be afraid. I am your voice.’”

The NEJFON clinics in Portland and Woburn continue to work on cases, but are at capacity and unable to take on new cases at this time. The Springfield clinic operates twice a month.

The numbers speak clearly about the importance of the work JFON is doing both here in New England and across the country.
Here are just a few statistics:

65 million: The number of displaced persons worldwide – the most since World War II
21 million: The number of refugees in need of support – 51 percent of those are children
6 million: The number of people who would be helped by President Obama’s executive actions on immigration in November 2014: Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Acton for Childhood Arrivals (DACA+). These were stalled in by a 4-4 decision of the Supreme Court. DACA remains intact.
47,000: The number of people projected to be in U.S. detention centers by June 2017
42,000: The number of people projected to be in U.S. detention centers
38,000: The number of beds in in U.S. detention centers
350: The number of refugee adjustment cases handled by JFON nationwide January to June 2016.
199: The number of families and individuals – from 38 countries - seen by New England JFON clinics in 2015
139: The number of cases seen by New England JFON clinics in 2015
80 percent: The number of families in U.S. detention centers have proof of valid claims for asylum
55: The number of JFON clinics operated by 15 sites across the country – 3 clinics in New England

The Rev. We Chang, former board president, acknowledged the enormous task NEJFON faces and the frustration of dealing with cases that can take years to resolve. 

“I’ve been doing this since 2008 … Let me be frank, many times I’ve said, ‘maybe there’s a better person who can do this. I don’t have to do this; it’s too much,’ and then I hear a story like (these tonight) – and I know persons, neighbors like that in our midst – and whatever the frustrations, difficulties, disappointment, exhaustion that I and our volunteers go through doesn’t compare to what they go through. But even our frustration is worth it, if we can do something about it.”

Learn more about JFON and how you can support this ministry as a Friend of JFON