Image by Susan Yin

Resources

USCIS

applications for immigration benefits

Immigration Courts

for those in removal (deportation) proceedings

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University maintains data related to immigration courts, case backlogs, case dispositions, etc:

Department of State

Immigrating from Abroad

Find an Attorney

a qualified, experienced immigration attorney

Avoid Scams & Fraud!

especially notario fraud

  • The wrong help – even if well intentioned – can hurt, if not devastate, immigrants and their families!  Please do not advise an immigrant if you are not a licensed attorney or accredited Department of Justice representative.  Contact us instead.

  • What is Notario Fraud?  See Unidos US for information in English and en español.

  • StopNotarioFraud.org was created by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Bar Association.  It offers information in 6 languages.

  • Consumer Protection information from AILA

  • State by State Information on the Unauthorized Practice of Law from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC)

Organizations to follow

for news, testimonials, & community

Image by Katie Moum

How To...

 

Sponsor an Immigrant Pastor

As a congregation, you have decided that you wish to sponsor an immigrant pastor – fantastic!  Before creating or signing any documents, contracts, checks, etc, you should contact Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel.  Immigration status is complicated and confusing, so it is easy to make a simple misstep that could have disastrous consequences. 

As a minister, you are considering launching a New Church.  If you have not spoken with our friends at New Church Ministry, please do so as soon as possible.  However, know that there are additional steps and complications to starting a new church as an immigrant, so please contact us soon.


Please contact me as early as possible when beginning the discernment process so that we may schedule a consultation – typically between a regional minister, church board representative, and/or the prospective immigrant employee.  It is helpful to have some ideas of what the new role will entail in terms of job responsibilities as well as the allocated budget available (as there are financial requirements imposed by the application process).  Know that the employment-based immigration system moves at a seemingly glacial pace, so it is critical that we begin as soon as possible so that you all may launch your ministry as soon as possible!


Finally, you may find the Disciples Pastors page helpful in providing an overview of the R-1 nonimmigrant visa and I-360 Special Immigrant Religious Worker immigrant visa.  You will find links to the USCIS website there as well. 

Support Refugees

Within CC(DOC), both Global Ministries and Week of Compassion provide wide and deep support for refugees around the world.  Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries equips Disciples to respond to Jesus’ call to welcome the stranger through refugee resettlement, ministering with immigrants, and advocacy.  However, here are some resources on how to assist refugees in your local community and abroad.

Did you know that it takes years, and sometimes decades, for a refugee to reach the U.S.?  Here is an overview of what that process looks like as well as a history of refugees in the U.S.  Once here, a refugee generally can apply for permanent residence (i.e. green card) within one year and then citizenship after five years as a resident.  It takes years of living in limbo and uncertainty; having community support can make all the difference.

Support Asylum Seekers

Asylum seekers are refugees.  The difference is simply geography: they have been able to physically arrive in the United States before requesting legal relief.  They must meet the international law definition of a “refugee.”  They may apply for asylum affirmatively or defensively.  Those arriving at the Southern Border will most often seek to encounter the Border Patrol to express fear of persecution in their home country.  Most are detained until released on bond or parole (if an adult) or to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, who locates and vets a sponsor (if an unaccompanied child).

 

At the moment, the greatest needs are 1) to assist and support efforts and organizations on the border who handle these detention matters, and 2) to provide long term support for legal services so that one may see their legal case to its final conclusion (which currently takes years). 

While some may find this area controversial, here are some thoughts to consider:

This article and another here contain a list of organizations along the border and elsewhere to support and with which to volunteer (still valid though dated).  If you are an attorney, mental healthcare provider, interpreter or translator, or have lots of patience and time with which to make phone calls, please consider these opportunities with the Immigrant Justice Campaign.

Assist those in Detention

There are multiple government agencies that detain immigrants in the U.S. at enormous expense.  For years, the U.S. immigration system had a mandatory “quota” for the number of detainees on a given day.  Despite the Covid-19 global pandemic, immigration detention continues.

When an immigrant is taken into detention, it may take days for them to be located.  The government typically moves immigrants quickly and without warning throughout federal and immigration detention facilities.  One may search the ICE Locator online, but imagine what you would do and feel if your parent, child, friend, or employee “disappeared,” you could not call or text them, and you had no idea where they were.  Meanwhile, this report discusses how immigrants are statistically less likely to commit crimes than the native-born while there has been a trend towards the criminalization of the immigration system over the past 25 years.

Once in detention, the most important step is to find an attorney with experience in immigration detention, bond, and court cases.  However, this is easier said than done because there is no right to counsel in immigration cases (despite detention in incarceration-like facilities), which means that detainees and their families usually must retain private counsel.  Often, local counsel is best because they know their particular system and its intricacies.  However, note that most immigration detainees are held (ironically?) in remote, sparsely populated areas, which require attorneys and families to drive hours just for one short visit.

Finally, if and when one obtains a bond – if even eligible to be released from immigration custody, that amount may be very high – as much as $5,000-$25,000 – and differ based on geography.  Immigration bonds are often set at amounts that exceed ability to pay.  There are organizations that serve as bond fund “pools” to assist including Freedom For Immigrants, the Immigrant Bail Fund, the Fair Fight Bond Fund, and the Bay Area Immigration Bond Fund

Advocate for Immigrants, Refugees, & Asylum Seekers

Disciples Refugee and Immigration Ministries equips Disciples to respond to Jesus’ call to welcome the stranger through refugee resettlement, ministering with immigrants, and advocacy. Please subscribe to “RIM WRAP” for frequent email newsletters on action alerts and opportunities to stand up for immigrants, refugees, and asylees.

Additionally, the U.S. immigration system is badly broken, so there are ample opportunities for advocacy.  Remember that immigrants are unable to vote until they become citizens, so they are unable to determine the political leaders who may completely define the arc of how and when they can live with their family, work, return home, or simply live free.  There are always opportunities to speak up and out at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA)’s Advocacy and Media Center.

You might also consider joining the Interfaith Immigration Coalition for a strong and vibrant faith-based community that is standing up and speaking out for immigrants, refugees, and asylees every day. 

Finally, never stop learning!  Here are some suggestions:

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317-289-1407

P.O. Box 571, Gibsonville, NC 27249

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DISCLAIMER

This website contains general immigration information only. It is not legal advice. Using this information does not establish an attorney-client relationship with Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel. Disciples Home Missions does not agree to represent you in your immigration case or before any government agency unless contracted expressly in writing.

©2021 by Disciples Immigration Legal Counsel. Proudly created with Wix.com with stock photos from Unsplash.com.