“Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2)
At Justice for Our Neighbors, we embrace the model of biblical hospitality. Each of our NYAC-JFON legal clinics is an opportunity for local congregations to "open their doors” with a warm and hospitable welcome for newcomers in their midst.
The 1986 United Methodist Bishops’ Statement on Refugees and Immigration says, “God comes to us in the form of the vulnerable person who lacks the benefit of status and protection in an alien land. In the flesh of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, God chose to sojourn in a particular way for the sake of all humankind… and restored the possibility of authentic community in which love and justice reign and peace prevails.”
And that beloved community of hope does not only include the sojourners in our midst. At NYAC-JFON, we strive to build community between the vulnerable immigrants who need our help and the volunteers who seek to be welcoming. Through our ministry of hospitality, we seek mutual transformation.
Burmese Refugee and the New York Times
In late 2007, one of NYAC-JFON’s clients--a refugee from Burma on whose behalf we won humanitarian parole and asylum--informed us that one of his family members in Burma had discovered a WWII plane wreck while hunting in the Burmese jungle. In January of 2008, the family member entered the US with dog tags and serial numbers of the plane and asked NYAC-JFON to help located the surviving family members. We contacted the Joint P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Command in Hawaii and Nina Bernstein at the New York Times. Ms. Bernstein focuses on immigration; however, she became fascinated with the story, interviewed our client and his family member, and then managed to find several surviving family members, including the brother of the pilot of the missing plane. Her article about this story appeared on the front page of the Sunday NYT on February 3, 2008.
Precedent-Setting Decision from the Board of Immigration Appeals
On June 29, 2006, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) terminated proceedings against a client of NYAC-JFON from Guyana and recognized that he has been a U.S. Citizen since 1986. The client had been in jail for over a year pending removal proceedings. If the BIA had upheld the lower court’s order of deportation, this client would likely never have been permitted to reenter the U.S. due to a prior conviction. The BIA disagreed with the lower court and held that the client had automatically derived citizenship in 1986 from his mother under an expired law. The BIA’s decision required the court to overturn a prior precedent. See Matter of Rowe, 23 I&N Dec. 962 (BIA June 29, 2006)