Advocates are voices for undocumented immigrants

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The Rev. Suzanne Isaacs, executive director of the San Antonio region of “Just For Our Neighbors” a United Methodist Immigration Ministry discusses, the reality that undocumented immigrants face and the services the ministry provides to help immigrants and undocumented residents gain legal status the “Majority of undocumented immigrants don’t have the proper knowledge to understand and fill out legal documents” said Isaacs at “Hot Potato” discussion hosted by United Methodist Campus March 7, at the United Methodist Student Center. Photo by J. Del Valle

Justice For Our Neighbors ministry is devoted to helping immigrants with legal services to gain legal status in this country.

By J. Del Valle

sac-ranger@alamo.edu

Undocumented immigrants have been living in fear for the past two months since President Trump issued undocumented immigrants to be deported back to their home country back in February.

“It’s a big issue and controversial, but we are here to help” said The Rev. Suzanne Isaacs, executive director of the San Antonio area of Methodist ministries, during a Hot Potato discussion March 3 at the United Methodist Campus Ministry.

Families that come into the country illegally face hardships financially. They can’t hire attorneys, and they don’t know there are resources to help them start their process to citizenship.

The mission is to assist, educate and “be an advocate to someone who doesn’t have an advocate,” said The Rev Suzanna Isaacs. “Being an advocate is a strong position.

San Antonio has a legal clinic that is low-cost with legal representation to low-income immigrants. They are called Justice For Our Neighbors. This organization can provide life-changing opportunities to citizenship. They are able to help undocumented immigrants apply for citizenship, jobs and scholarships for undocumented students attending school.

An undocumented deaf teenager from Mexico needed assistance, and she did not know where to get help, but Justice For Our Neighbors was able to help. “We brought in translators to help this young lady have a voice,” Isaacs said. We also help teenagers and young adults apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood. It is an immigration policy that the Obama administration started in 2012 for eligible undocumented immigrants who enter the United States as minors before their 16th birthday and before 2007. They must be younger than 31 as of June 15, 2012, to receive a two-year period of deferred action from deportation and eligibility for a work permit.

April 8, Justice For Our Neighbors will have a free workshop at Laurel Heights United Methodist Church, 227 W. Woodlawn. There will be lawyers on site to present “Know Your Rights,” and assist with questions on immigration options. Participants should bring whatever documentation they have to the workshop. The event starts at 9:30 a.m.

“It is a very complex process. It’s not easy,” said immigration lawyer Juan Castro. “A lot of undocumented immigrants don’t know where to start and what forms to fill out.”

Isaacs ended the session with information on how the community can help that included prayer, donations of clothes, toiletries and money, volunteering, spreading the word to undocumented immigrants about Justice For Our Neighbors, and educating yourself and others on federal and state rights.

Direct questions to the San Antonio Regional Justice For Our Neighbors office via email at SARJFONClinic@sarjfon.org or by phone at (210) 847-7245. The office is at El Divino Salvador, 1701 W. Woodlawn.

A clinic is at Emanuel UMC, 3225 W. Poplar St.

Refugees are at the Mennonite Church 1443 S St Mary’s St, San Antonio, TX 78210

and Travis Park UMC 230 E Travis St, San Antonio, TX 78205

Churches and individuals wanting to help with meals should call Eugene Hileman at (210) 557-8698.

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