Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors 

News Updates

2015 Updates

August 2015

Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors (Iowa JFON) is seeking to hire a part-time, temporary Administrative Assistant in preparation for our upcoming "Give Children and Families a Chance" fundraising event.

Please download the Job Description HERE

To apply, please send resumes to:

April 2015

Iowa JFON Welcomes Laura Mendoza as Newest Legal Assistant!

Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors is pleased to welcome our newest hire, Laura Mendoza!  Laura is a full-time Legal Assistant who was hired to work with our Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault clients as well as to provide administrative support to our UAC project.  With the addition of Laura, we are able to continue providing consultations and ongoing legal services to UAC children, as well as strengthen our work with women and families seeking refuge from family violence.  

Laura is originally from Mexico City, Mexico.  She has resided in Iowa since 1996 and she lives with her husband and her two children.  Laura has extensive experience working with immigrant populations and particularly with women and children.  Prior to joining Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors, Laura was a Legal Assistant with the MUNA Legal Clinic and with a private immigration attorney’s law office. 

Laura will be completing the required training to apply for accreditation with the Board of Immigration Appeals.  As a BIA Accredited Representative, Laura will be able to provide direct legal services with limited attorney supervision.  This will expand JFON’s ability to provide much-needed legal services to immigrants throughout Iowa.

Laura says, “I love to work with victims and help them to move forward with their lives.  I’m excited to work with Iowa JFON.”  We are so pleased to have Laura as a part of the JFON team!    

March 2015

Iowa JFON Offices Have Moved!

Iowa JFON has moved to a different location listed below.  Thank you to everyone who participated and supported the move in some way!  We could not continue developing and looking toward the future without all of your help!

Midtown Office Park
1001 Office Park Rd, Ste. 121
West Des Moines, IA 50265

Iowa JFON Welcomes April Palma as Newest Attorney!

April Palma joined JFON as the unaccompanied minors attorney in March 2015. April grew up near Denver, CO and graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in Political Science and International Affairs in 2011. She received her law degree from Drake Law School in 2014. During Law school April clerked for Iowa Legal Aid and represented individuals in the Tax Clinic. April is licensed to practice law in Iowa and is fluent in Spanish.

April lives in Clive and when not engaged in the practice of immigration law enjoys baking cakes, reading, and playing with her puppy Oliver.


February 2015

Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors (Iowa JFON) is seeking to hire a part-time attorney or non-attorney willing to become a BIA accredited representative for our Domestic Violence immigration project.

Please download the Job Description HERE

To apply, please send resumes to:


January 2015

Iowa JFON in the News!

Campaign aims to help unaccompanied immigrant children - January 23, 2015

Iowa groups work to provide lawyers for immigrant children - January 27, 2015

250 unaccompanied children seeking to stay in Iowa - January 27, 2015


Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors (Iowa JFON) has a new position for a bi-lingual attorney/coordinator to specialize in legal services for unaccompanied minors! The position will also include practice in other areas of immigration law as time permits and need requires. 

Please download the Job Description HERE

To apply, please send resumes to:

Resumes accepted until: February 1, or until position is filled


Contact: Brynne Howard, Attorney
Phone: (515) 255-9809 ext. 204
Cell: (515) 480-6509

Give a Child a Chance Benefit for
Unaccompanied Children, Jan 28

January 14, 2015, Des Moines, Iowa – Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON) and its Circle of Friends will host a benefit to expand immigration legal services for unaccompanied children already in Iowa. 

According to former Governor Robert D. Ray, “Billie and I support Justice For Our Neighbors, the expert nonprofit in Iowa on immigration legal services.  This benefit event will support expansion of their good work, giving newer immigrants a chance for a safer and better life of opportunity in Iowa”. 

He added, “Iowa is a welcoming state! That’s been our history.  Early immigrants crossed oceans and prairies to come to Iowa.  In the 1970’s, we welcomed Southeast Asians who have made invaluable contributions to our communities, built families and businesses and enriched our culture and economy.  Since then, we have welcomed new waves of immigrants from all across the world, including children fleeing extreme violence and poverty in Central America”.

In the past year, Iowa has received nearly 250 children fleeing extreme violence and poverty in Central America. These unaccompanied children are living with family, but must appear in federal immigration court even though they are not provided with an attorney. Many of these children are eligible for special immigrant juvenile status, asylum or other remedies but ALL of them are on the “rocket docket”, a fast track to immediate deportation. Without legal representation, they have little chance (15%) to stay in the United States legally.  But WITH an attorney, 73% are allowed to remain in the U.S. legally, where life is safer, they are reunited with relatives, and opportunities are more abundant.

Last summer, the Des Moines Mayor's Advisory Committee on Migrant Children, comprised of local immigrant serving agencies and advocates, human service, health and education groups,  identified legal services as the top priority need for children fleeing violence.  Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie noted, “It's up to us as compassionate Iowans to create welcoming communities and ensure that desperate children seeking protection have access to competent immigration legal services”.

Frank Camp, JFON Board Chairperson and attorney from Cedar Rapids, added, “Pro bono attorneys have been recruited and trained in immigration law for unaccompanied children, but there are not enough of them to fill the gap”.  Brynne Howard, Regional Staff Attorney, explained, “Funds raised through this event will allow us to hire a full-time immigration lawyer, a part-time legal assistant, and pay for related expenses such as gas, phones and office supplies for the additional staff for a year”.

The benefit will be held Wednesday, January 28, 5:30 – 7:00 PM at the Dorsey & Whitney Law Firm, 801 Grand Ave., Suite 4100, in Des Moines, Iowa.  General admission is $50 per person with host opportunities beginning at the $100 level and up.  See for details.  RSVPs are required by Wednesday, January 21.  Contact Alicia Claypool, Circle of Friends volunteer and event coordinator at with questions or how to become a sponsor host.

Leadership for the Give a Child a Chance special fundraising campaign includes Honorary Advisors, Barry & Michele Griswell; Co-Chairs, Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie and Christine Manbeck; and the 18-member Circle of Friends volunteers.  Over $70,000 has been raised towards the campaign goal of $100,000.

2014 Updates

November 2014

Contact: Brynne Howard, Attorney
Phone: (515) 255-9809 ext. 204
Cell: (515) 480-6509

Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors Welcomes President Obama’s “Immigration Action Accountability Actions”

Des Moines, Iowa – Last night President Obama announced he will exercise his executive authority to defer the deportation of potentially millions of undocumented immigrants living and working in the United States. Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors (IA-JFON) welcomes this action from President Obama. IA-JFON remains committed to its mission to provide free immigration legal services to low income immigrants, to educate the public and to advocate for reform of our broken immigration system.

“President Obama’s executive action is a much-needed first step towards fixing our broken immigration system,” said IA-JFON Attorney Ann Naffier. “By removing the threat of imminent deportation for those with deep ties to the United States, the move will allow immigrants to further contribute to the fabric of our communities by working, opening businesses and paying taxes. The people who will benefit from this action are our neighbors, our co-workers, school mates, our church members and our friends.”

IA-JFON rejoices with those immigrants who will benefit positively from this move. IA-JFON Attorney Brynne Howard remarked, “In church halls throughout this state we have met with family after family who will now be able to stop living lives of fear – fear of abuse in the workplace, fear of family separation, fear of dreams deferred. We are all better off when our neighbors can continue to contribute openly to the communities in which they already live.”

At the same time IA-JFON celebrates with those undocumented immigrants who will benefit from this measure, we stand with those who will not benefit and who continue to wait. We are also painfully aware that President Obama’s action is only a stop-gap measure and that long-term solutions are still required. The majority of Iowans have consistently recognized the need for comprehensive immigration reform that provides a roadmap for citizenship. We call on Congress and our Iowa delegation in particular, to move on from partisan politics and unhelpful rhetoric and do what it’s meant to do - govern.

We thank President Obama for his courageous leadership and we appeal to our leaders to continue to work on comprehensive immigration reform for the good of our communities, our state and our country.

Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors is a faith-driven ministry, welcoming immigrants into our churches and communities by providing free, high-qualify legal services, education and advocacy.

Justicia para Nuestros Vecinos de Iowa da la bienvenida a las Acciones de Rendición de Cuentas relacionadas con Inmigración”

Des Moines, IA – Anoche el Presidente Obama anunció que ejercerá su poder ejecutivo para aplazar la deportación de millones de inmigrantes indocumentados potenciales que viven y trabajan en los Estados Unidos. Justicia para Nuestros Vecinos de Iowa (JFON-IA) le da la bienvenida a esta acción por parte del Presidente Obama. JFON-IA permanece comprometida con su misión de proporcionar servicios legales gratuitos a inmigrantes de bajos recursos, educar al público y luchar por lograr una reforma de nuestro roto sistema de inmigración.

“La Acción Ejecutiva del Presidente Obama es un primer paso muy necesario para enmendar nuestro roto sistema de inmigración”, dijo la abogada de Justicia para Nuestros Vecinos, Ann Naffier. “Al eliminar la amenaza de una inminente deportación de aquellos que tienen estrechos lazos con los Estados Unidos, se le permitirá a los inmigrantes a contribuir aún más con nuestras comunidades trabajando, abriendo nuevos negocios y pagando sus impuestos. Las personas que se beneficiarán de esta acción son nuestros vecinos, nuestros compañeros de trabajo, de estudio, miembros de nuestra iglesia y nuestros amigos”.

JFON-IA se regocija con aquellos inmigrantes que se beneficiarán positivamente de esta acción. La abogada de inmigración Brynne Howard de JFON-IA destacó, “nos hemos encontrado en los pasillos de las iglesias de todo este estado con familias que ahora podrán dejar de vivir una vida de temor- temor de abusos en el centro de trabajo, temor a la separación de la familia, temor de aplazar sus sueños. Nosotros estaremos mucho mejor cuando nuestros vecinos puedan continuar contribuyendo abiertamente con las comunidades donde ya viven”.

Al mismo tiempo que JFON-IA celebra con aquellos inmigrantes indocumentados que se beneficiarán con esta medida, estamos junto a aquellos que no se beneficiarán de la misma y continuarán esperando. También estamos dolorosamente conscientes de que la acción del Presidente Obama es sólo una medida provisional y que aún se necesitan soluciones a largo plazo. La mayoría de la población de Iowa ha reconocido consistentemente la necesidad de una amplia reforma migratoria que proporcione el camino a la ciudadanía. Nosotros hacemos un llamado al Congreso y a nuestra delegación de Iowa, en particular, a que se aparten de políticas partidistas y de la retórica poco útil, a que hagan lo que se supone que hagan- gobernar.

Nosotros agradecemos al Presidente Obama por su valiente liderazgo y hacemos un llamado a nuestros dirigentes a continuar trabajando para lograr una reforma migratoria amplia por el bien de las comunidades, nuestro estado y nuestro país.

Justicia para Nuestros Vecinos de Iowa es un ministerio orientado a la fe que da la bienvenida a los inmigrantes en nuestras iglesias y comunidades proporcionando servicios legales gratuitos de alta calidad, educación y defensa a los inmigrantes.

June 2014

Client Story from the Domestic Violence Project

By Joy Moore

One of our priorities at Iowa JFON is the representation of abused immigrants, one of the most vulnerable and exploited populations in our midst.  Since November 2013, we have been able to increase our capacity to serve victims of domestic violence and sexual assault with a grant from the Department of Justice, opening over 60 new cases in 7 months and providing advice and counsel to several others who lacked a remedy under the law.  It has been my honor to be able to advocate for these clients with local law enforcement and the Immigration Service.

Esperanza* is a current client that came on our radar after she reached out to one of our local congregations that host monthly legal clinics in the Fall of 2013.  Esperanza had been recently threatened with death and chased with a knife around her home by her intimate partner; thankfully she was able to escape his advances without physical injury and contact the police to arrest her abuser.  Ultimately, her abuser was arrested and removed from the country due to his crime against Esperanza.  As she was helpful to local law enforcement in the investigation of the domestic assault, she received a certification of helpfulness in order to apply for a U-Visa, meant for immigrant victims of certain crimes who aid law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime committed against them.

The U-Visa would mean incredible things for Esperanza.  She desperately wants to work, simply to be able to provide adequate sustenance for her two young boys here- and if she is approved, she will be able to do that with a work permit valid for four years.  She also will be able to work towards permanent residency, which she could apply for within 3 years of having her U-Visa.  She sadly had to leave behind three young daughters in her home country, and if she is approved for the visa, she can also apply to reunite with her daughters in the U.S.  She has known crushing poverty, physical abuse, and a lack of education for most of her days on this earth, both in her home country and in her sojourn here in the U.S.  We presented the best case possible for her, hoping that she will have the opportunity to live and work securely, free from abuse, and we will continue to represent her interests throughout the process of her application.     

*Name has been changed to protect confidentiality

2013 Updates

December 2013

 Ann Naffier Joins Iowa JFON Family

The personnel committee of Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors announces that their offer of employment has been accepted by Ann Naffier.  Ann is a friend as well as an attorney, with 18 years of direct experience with immigration law.  She brings a strong commitment to client service from the perspective of non-profit and faith-based organizations as well.  The icing on the cake is her fluency in Spanish.

Ann Naffier lives here in Des Moines with her family. Her law school education took place at Drake University.  She will be serving several of our legal clinics at United Methodist Churches outside of Des Moines.   Before attending Drake, she worked with the American Friends Service Committee as their immigration legal services director.  It was as a result of her commitment to this type of law that she attended Drake and then went into private practice in immigration law.  Now she has returned to the non-profit, faith-based organization world with acceptance of this position.

We know that Ann will be a great addition to our Iowa JFON team of Brynne, Joy, and Grisell.  These professionals will continue the tradition of 14 years of caring, high quality immigration legal services utilizing volunteers and United Methodist Churches to welcome the stranger in our midst. 

Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors is an Iowa Advance Special #375.  We have speakers available to explain our mission or the United Methodist Church’s faith-based immigration resolutions.  For more information see

November 2013

 Joy Moore Joins Our Staff

A new smiling face has appeared in the JFON office in Des Moines and we are glad to have Joy Moore working with us.  The grant from the Iowa Attorney General’s office funded a person to work with Victim’s Services clients, primarily Violence Against Women Act and U visa immigrant applicants and that person is Joy Moore.  Joy is an attorney who attended Georgetown Law School and worked in immigration law with Justice for Our Neighbors in Omaha, as well as at the Center for Legal Immigration Assistance in Lincoln, NE, before joining us here in Iowa. 

Joy’s interest in helping immigrants started early.  When she was in high school, Spanish-speaking immigrant children and youth started attending her school.  Joy enjoyed speaking Spanish and teaching, so she was soon the informal English as a Second Language tutor at her school.   Participation in mission trips to Mexico also motivated her to explore ways to reach out to help immigrants.  At the University of Nebraska at Lincoln she majored in Spanish.  Then Joy said she asked herself,  “How do I want to use my passion to work with immigrants and refugees?” 

The answer to that question came as she followed her husband to Georgetown to law school, where she decided to direct her interests toward immigration law. Now she is working with Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors and helping to create brighter futures for immigrants and refugees.  Glad to have you with us, Joy!

October 2013

Iowa Justice for Our Neighbor’s Bids Farewell to Gary Walters

We are overwhelmingly grateful to our Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors immigration attorney Gary Walters for all of the hard work and client care that he has offered us here in Iowa since joining us in October, 2008.  Gary has announced that he is leaving Iowa and going to our sister organization of Nebraska Justice for Our Neighbors.  Gary came to Iowa from Missouri and by way of law school at Creighton University.  That was when he found out about Justice for Our Neighbors in Omaha, where he volunteered during spring semester.  

After graduation from law school, he accepted the position of immigration attorney with JFON here in Iowa.         
With great dedication and a real heart for the work, he has been driving to Cedar Rapids at Lovely Lane UMC, the UMC at Columbus Junction and more recently Wesley UMC in Ottumwa and even keeping follow-up appointments at the church in Iowa City.   

Gary’s expertise has helped create brighter futures for many immigrant and refugee families. Gary notes that he especially has enjoyed working with families when he has been able to unite parents and children.  Another experience that has been inspiring is when he attends naturalization ceremonies to see happy clients who are “so happy and proud that after their long struggles they were selected to become Americans and can call Iowa (US) their home forever.  We will miss you, Gary!

 Iowa Justice for Our Neighbors is an Iowa Advance Special #375. 

August 2013

Burmese Refugee Residency Clinic in Columbus Junction

Pastor Al Coffin has been working with the Burmese refugee community in Columbus Junction.  On July 16, Gary and the volunteers at the Columbus Junction JFON Site held a legal clinic and  helped twelve Burmese refugees apply for their legal permanent residence.  A person is granted refugee status by a U.S. Embassy in a third country when he or she fears returning to his or her home country because of persecution by the government based on the person’s race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.  After living in the United States under refugee status for one year, a refugee is allowed to apply for legal permanent residence.

August 2013- Client Success Story 

A refugee sought help from Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON) in northwest Iowa to navigate complex immigration laws. Josue came to the United States in 1989 to escape the civil war in El Salvador and applied for asylum in 1993. In 2007 he finally received an asylum interview. He came to JFON for assistance.

Josue’s asylum case was denied because the civil war in El Salvador had ended. JFON helped him apply for late registration for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In response to violent volcanoes and earthquakes in El Salvador in 2000, Congress authorized TPS to allow certain Salvadorans who lived in the United States before the natural disaster to remain in the U.S. legally until El Salvador recovers. Josue was granted TPS and now is able to remain in the U.S. until the TPS program ends.

Students Want to Live the American Dream

Thousands of hard working young people who were brought to the United States a infants or children can now be locked up in federal detention centers and deported to a country which they have never known.

The DREAM Act could stop the injustice by giving students who have grown up and graduated high school in the United States the opportunity to earn legal status through higher education or military service.

Faith communities were disappointed when the Senate failed to pass the DREAM Act in December 2010.  However, in June, the Senate Judiciary  Subcommittee on Immigration Refugees, and Border Security held a hearing on the DREAM Act, chaired by Senator Richard Durbin ( D-IL) who has championed this legislation from the beginning.  For the first time in years, public support for positive immigration reform surpassed opposition.  In many ways momentum is building!

To continue building support this year, diverse communities of faith around the country will participate in DREAM Sabbath 2011, September 16th - October 9th.  During DREAM Sabbath 2011, congregations will lift up the lives of DREAM students in the prayers, readings, reflection and education during at least one worship service as a way to help educate and spread awareness of DREAM students and their hopes to attain full recognition of their contributions to our communities.

 You can help your congregation better understand the issue by telling them about these youth.  For more information on participating in DREAM Sabbath, go to   This website also has Immigration Education materials and stories of DREAMers.


Donations to Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors are deductible charitable contributions for income tax purposes.



Iowa Justice For Our Neighbors 

P.O. Box 41006, Des Moines IA 50311, Phone: 515-255-9809

Eastern Iowa JFON Attorney - Ann Naffier

Serving the Cedar Rapids, Columbus Junction, Decorah and Ottumwa JFON Sites

Central and Western Iowa JFON Attorney - Brynne Howard

Serving Des Moines and Storm Lake JFON Sites


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