Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) provides hospitality, immigration legal services, education, and advocacy to low-income immigrants across the United States. The JFON network consists of 15 sites that operate 38 clinics in United Methodist Churches around the country, and it is the role of National JFON to train, support, and resource these sites.
In 2013, the JFON network will have handled more than 4,000, with the following breakdown.
- More than 1,000 cases for childhood arrivals seeking to work lawfully in U.S. (“DACA”)
- More than 500 cases focused on helping families unite
- More than 400 cases to help refugees and asylees obtain green cards
- More than 250 cases to help victims of domestic violence to stay in the U.S. lawfully without dependence on their abuser
- More than 300 cases to help clients become naturalized U.S. citizens
- More than 30 time-consuming “Special Immigrant Juvinal Status” cases to help unaccompanied minors who have been abused, abandoned, or neglected get on a path toward citizenship
- More than 30 time-consuming asylum cases to provide lawful status for individuals with a fear of returning home to persecution
- More than 1,000 cases to provide “advice and counsel” to clients to learn their options under current immigration laws
In order to carry out these critical legal services, JFON continues to improve its volunteer-driven model, where United Methodists and other volunteers conduct client interviews, provide hospitality, interpret, and assist immigrants in myriad ways under the supervision of staff attorneys. This volunteer involvement not only allows JFON to serve more clients, it also provides meaningful interaction between immigrants and long-term residents where God’s love can be shared and witnessed.
New JFON sites
In the past year, JFON has welcomed new sites in San Antonio, TX, as well as New England, including Portland, ME and Springfield, MA. National JFON has provided extensive support and training to enable these sites to begin meeting the pressing needs in their communities. In addition, National JFON is actively working to bring on new sites in Austin and Houston Texas. Both cities have a vast immigrant population and support from their Annual Conference to undertake the JFON ministry.
In 2013, National JFON has provided new and improved support services to the JFON network so that clients are better served, sites are more sustainable, and volunteers can work effectively. Some highlights of these improvements are below.
National JFON launched a new Regional Attorney model to resource and mentor JFON attorneys. The most experienced and well-respected JFON attorneys provide in-depth assistance to the site attorneys. In addition, Regional Attorneys assist JFON boards of directors in the evaluation of site attorneys and undertake legal projects beneficial to the network as a whole such as standardizing intake forms.
In 2013, National JFON has provided fifteen capacity building grants to sites to strengthen their strategic planning, their boards, and their development plans. National JFON has also initiated a campaign to match individual donations that each site receives, up to $10,000, to improve their fundraising efforts while enhancing their sustainability.
Preparing for Immigration Reform
National JFON is helping prepare the JFON network for immigration reform, as comprehensive reform would completely alter how immigration legal services are carried out and increase the demand for services exponentially. This includes creating partnerships and providing training opportunities.
New Resources for Network
National JFON has built an on-line “Hub” where the network can access a vast library of information and forms, learn what other sites are doing successfully, and communicate with one another. More than fifty JFON staff and volunteers have joined the Hub in its first two weeks.
National JFON has also signed all JFON sites up for affiliation with the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) to tap into more training and funding opportunities and has registered all board members throughout the network for BoardSource so they can access in-depth board resources.