Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors 

Advocacy Corner

                                      Voices of Iowa JFON Clients

Sandra* is a 17 year old from El Salvador. Last year Sandra was being threatened by a 38 year old gang member. He wanted Sandra to be his “girlfriend” and when she refused, he threatened to kill her. He started waiting for her after school and Sandra was forced to drop out.

Shortly after she dropped out of school, Sandra’s parents sent her away from their home with instructions not to return because they could no longer support her. Sandra had a difficult life growing up. Her family was very poor and she was physically abused by her mother. Her mother has severe anxiety and when she would get anxious, she would hit Sandra often leaving marks and some permanent scars.

Sandra arrived in the US in June 2014 through Hidalgo, Texas and was detained by border patrol. Sandra was released by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to her sponsor Jose (a cousin of her father’s) and his wife in Osceola, IA. Since then, relations between Sandra and her sponsors have deteriorated. Her sponsors frequently told her to go back home (to El Salvador), that she wasn’t welcome here and generally mistreated her. Eventually Sandra was kicked out of their home.

A school friend and her family took Sandra in. Sandra is now living in Des Moines, IA with her friend, Mariana, and Mariana’s mother, Norma. Norma had previously been assisted by Iowa JFON and called to schedule an appointment for Sandra. JFON has agreed to assist Sandra with her case. Sandra is currently in the process of applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

Jonathan* is a 15 year old from Guatemala. Jonathan’s father lost his job five years ago and started drinking heavily. Jonathan’s family is very poor and Jonathan was forced to quit school at 13 to work and help support his younger siblings.

One night, after coming home from a long day of work, Jonathan confronted his father about his drinking. Jonathan’s father hit him and ran him out of the house. That very same night Jonathan began the long and difficult journey across Mexico to the United States with nothing but the clothing on his back and a few dollars. Jonathan traveled for three months. He survived the trip only through the kindness from strangers who fed, clothed and housed him all along the way. Even so, Jonathan spent many nights sleeping on the streets and went many days without eating a full meal.

Jonathan is now reunited with an Uncle here in Iowa and finally going back to school. Iowa JFON is currently assisting Jonathan with his Special Immigrant Juvenile Status Application. 

Melinda* was brought to the United States by an adult family acquaintance when she was 14 years old. This adult family acquaintance promised her that she would be able to go to school and find a job.

However, Melinda never had the chance to go to school. Instead she became that acquaintance’s personal house keeper and sex-provider. Melinda managed to escape from her abuser six months after her nightmare began, and even cooperated in a criminal investigation of the abuser which resulted in his incarceration. Shortly thereafter, Melinda disappeared into the world of the undocumented for 10 years. No one ever told her there were immigration programs, like the U-visa, that could allow her to remain in the U.S.  

Eventually, Melinda encountered Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors in Ottumwa, Iowa. Iowa JFON is now assisting Melinda in obtaining her legal permanent residency.  

Tanya* was brought to the United States by her father when she was three years old.

 Tanya is now 15, a straight-A student in high school, and a star soccer player on her high school team.  Iowa JFON assisted Tanya in applying for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), which allows Tanya a work permit, temporary protection from deportation, and a lot of hope for the future!  

DAPA and Extended DACA Information

Please share this document outlining details about President Obama's Executive Action Announcement!

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Educate Yourself!  Take Action!

Learn more about the contribution of immigrants in your community and what you can do to make sure Iowa remains a welcoming place!

-         Iowa Immigration Education Coalition:

-         AILA, Comprehensive Immigration Reform:

-          Reform Immigration For America:

-          American Friends Service Committee:

-          Interfaith Immigration Coalition:

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