On October 10, we will celebrate the outstanding contributions of Nebraskans who have stood up for justice and opportunity for all at the 2013 Good Apple Awards in Omaha. In the days leading up to the Good Apple Awards, we are proud to introduce you to the honorees we are recognizing this year.
The Seeds of Justice Award honors outstanding legal contributions to public interest law and/or pro bono contributions by private lawyers and law firms advancing the public interest.
This year, Appleseed is proud to present the Seeds of Justice Award to Justice For Our Neighbors – Nebraska (JFON).
A project of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and the United Methodist Church Conferences of Iowa and Nebraska, JFON is a nonprofit organization based in Omaha providing immigration legal services, education, and advocacy for indigent and low-income immigrant families and individuals in Nebraska and western Iowa. The program initially was a response to the passage of harsh anti-immigrant laws in 1996. Later it also focused on the stricter laws passed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
JFON’s mission is to welcome immigrants into our communities not only by providing them with free, high-quality immigration legal services and advocating for just immigration laws, but also by educating immigrants and American citizens about the realities of immigration laws and the effect they have on our families and our communities.
Since opening in 1999, JFON has served nearly 10,000 people through free legal clinics and private consultations with immigration attorneys in Omaha, Lexington, and Columbus, and more than 800 people alone in 2012.
JFON has assisted numerous individuals and families seeking legal status, including refugee and asylum seekers fleeing persecution; Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) visas for battered and abused women, children, and vulnerable adults; immigrant juveniles who were under 15 years of age when they entered the country; and, documented immigrants assisting family members to gain legal status. They have also helped individuals and families in removal cases in which they are threatened with deportation.
Over the years, JFON has become a trusted member of the community and proved to be effective at translating the needs of the community into action with advocacy partners around the state. JFON has been a leader in our state ensuring Nebraska’s DREAMers can pursue temporary legal status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In September of 2012, JFON helped organize a town hall forum with more than 500 individuals, including potential DACA applicants, their families, and volunteers, to educate the community about the program. At the event, 180 qualified individuals received free consultations with 17 private attorneys and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Accredited Representatives who volunteered their time.
JFON has continued its work this past year not only helping DREAMers get qualified for DACA, but also providing guidance for the DREAMers Project Coalition, a statewide coalition of DREAM youth advocating for common-sense federal immigration laws with a clear pathway to citizenship for aspiring Americans.
JFON has been a core partner in advocating for a more welcoming Nebraska for immigrant Nebraskans and exemplifies the power and potential of public interest law – providing direct legal services, leveraging pro bono volunteers, communicating the needs of the community, and advocating for systemic change.
Appleseed is proud to recognize Justice for Our Neighbors – Nebraska with this year’s Seeds of Justice Award.
Join us in honoring Justice for Our Neighbors at the Good Apple Awards on Thursday, October 10, 2013! Purchase your tickets today!