A recap of “Immigrant Stories and Songs”


Northern Illinois Justice For Our Neighbors (NIJFON) held an event to raise awareness of the plight that immigrants go through on a daily basis . It was a festive event with solo music performances from artist such as Nigerian Gospel Singer Ekeng Bassey, to powerful testimonials by NIJFON’s supervisory attorney Jenny Ansay, and Fred Tsao, who is the Senior Policy Counsel of the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).

The most “jaw dropping” moment of this event was Fred Tsao’s testimony on United States immigration statistics. Here are some key points that he stated:

– 18 billion dollars from the U.S. Government was spent on strengthening immigration enforcement(11 billion dollars were spent on the U.S/Mexico border alone)

– 2015 marked a record number of deportations by the U.S. with nearly 406,000 which equates to 1,100 deportations per day

– Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE)  is focusing more on monitoring immigrants  WITH NO CRIMINAL RECORD.

-On a surprising note, The undocumented immigrant populations decreased within the past year. Mr. Tsao noted that the improved economy in Mexico and the lack of jobs available for immigrants in the U.S. played a huge role in slowing down the migration of immigrants from Mexico-U.S.

– Within the past year there has been an INCREASE in Central American immigrants.

– 10 percent of Immigrants WITHOUT LEGAL REPRESENTATION only win their deportation cases.

Fred Tsao’s lecture makes us realize 3 key points:

1. Instead of helping immigrants and providing them with the resources and protection needed for them to live productive and efficient lives, The government instead is focusing on criminalizing immigrants (deportations, detention centers) which creates unnecessary stigma against a group of people who’s only crime is to create a better life for themselves and for their family.

2. Because statistics show that migration from a specific country slows when its economy improves, it further proves the notion that immigrants MIGRATE TO ANOTHER COUNTRY BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO…….NOT BECAUSE THEY WANT TO.  To most immigrants, living in the United States is not just a form of luxury…… Its a form of survival.

3. Legal representation is vital to the well-being of an immigrant who is facing hardship which makes NIJFON’s mission of “providing free legal representation to low-income immigrants” that much vital.

All in all, the immigration dilemma in America is getting worse and better legislation, dialogue, and advocacy measures need to be put into place to solve this issue

March 2016 Newsletter

no more families torn apartMuch of the time in immigration law is spent in waiting. And as supporters of JFON and immigration reform we also are waiting …

… for the Supreme Court to decide the future of “Dreamers” and their parents.

… for their cases to be heard in the detention centers across the U.S.

… waiting for the fear of deportation to lessen

But now, it is time to SPEAK UP, to give voices to those without.

Read more in the March 2016 NIJFON email newsletter.

NIJFON volunteer testimony on the importance of local church community

pr-mapBy Jossy Gelpi, shared with St. Luke’s Lutheran Church of Logan Square on January 31, 2016

In October 2007 I was 41 years old, I made a decision and left all my family and friends in Puerto Rico to live in the Poconos, Pennsylvania even when I had no idea how to live in a cold weather and having never seen snow in my life. Why? Because I fell in love with a wonderful man, Rich, and I agreed to start a new life with him as his wife.

I made that decision. I chose and accepted the new challenge to be a housewife. Probably you will say that Puerto Rico is not a foreign country and I made the decision willingly, therefore I am not an immigrant. And if I heard someone saying this I would also come to the same conclusion. Continue reading “NIJFON volunteer testimony on the importance of local church community”

NIJFON Welcomes Susan Yanun as Director of Development

The year of 2015 has been an amazing year for Northern Illinois JFON! Our Board of Directors decided that for us to continue to grow in fulfilling our vision, and expanding our mission, that we needed to hire a Director of Development (part-time). We are excited that Susan Yanun will be joining our staff, beginning January 4, 2016!

Susan YanunSusan has spent years fighting for social justice, immigrant rights, and community-led grassroots planning and development, much of the time through her position as the New Communities Program Director and Planning Director of Logan Square Neighborhood Association in Chicago, IL. She began her experience with NIJFON as the Chicago Clinic Co-Coordinator for three years. In her new role as Director of Development, Susan plans to work with the board, staff attorneys, and clinic volunteers to diversify and increase funding for Northern Illinois JFON to build its capacity and increase its ability to fulfill its mission of providing high quality, free legal service, education and advocacy. Continue reading “NIJFON Welcomes Susan Yanun as Director of Development”