Graham Bateman: How We Can Secure Justice For Our Neighbors

Graham BatemanThe senseless deaths in El Paso and Dayton paired with the almost 700 hardworking immigrants who were arrested in the Mississippi ICE raids have made my heart heavy. I can’t help but think about all the children who are scared, alone and traumatized – either because they are attending funerals for their parents and loved ones or sleeping on the floor of a gym not knowing if they will ever see their parents again. And it was horrifying to learn that after the shooting in El Paso victims were afraid to go to the hospital and families were afraid to go to the reunification center because of their immigration status. 

JFON can do something about the fear of receiving medical treatment and the family separations because of raids. We can hold Know Your Rights sessions that teach immigrants what to do if ICE stops them. If immigrants know their constitutional rights and how to use them, they don't have to live in fear of going to the hospital or taking their children to school. So that is what we have begun doing. We have seven Know Your Rights sessions scheduled during the next five weeks at local Methodist Churches. JFON North Central Texas (NCTx) is also partnering with many nonprofits at the Dallas ISD Resource Fair, where we will be holding three more Know Your Rights sessions for immigrants from Burma, the Congo and Latin America. And we are participating in the Mexican Consulate's Immigration Fair.

This is why we work on nights, Saturdays and Sundays: because the need is so great. Ana Arellanos, JFON NCTx's immigration attorney, and I gave long thought about going to Mississippi to help. But what we can do best is prevent such tragic family separations.  Please keep all these devastated families in your prayers, and know that by supporting JFON NCTx you are doing something to help.

If you know anyone who does not yet have their documentation, if you employee immigrants who may not have all the adults in their home documented or have children attending a school in which some children may have parents in some part of the immigration process, please consider hosting or asking your employer or school to host a Family Unity Planning Workshop. This workshop is free and are available to any group interested. This empowering workshop focuses on creating guardianship plans for children so someone you love and trust cares for your child instead of the state. To schedule a workshop simply call me or send me an email. More information can be found below – including a graphic you can copy and email to anyone you think might be interested.

Click here for a PDF of a book Beyond the Golden Rule. This piece is a parent’s guide to preventing and responding to prejudice. This piece isn’t really for JFON supporters – I think you already have mastered this concept! But it is a nice piece to send out to your friends and family and to share with a classroom teacher. This is also a great guide to ask your school PTA to endorse as their plan to preventing and responding to prejudice. Living a life without prejudice isn’t enough. Experts tell us we must take the time to sit down with our children and discuss prejudice, how hurtful it is and how to stop it. 

As my heart broke this week, my saving grace was thinking about you – our JFON North Central Texas family. Each time sadness entered my heart I stopped and remembered the inspiration and hope you give to our clients. Your generosity allows our clients to pursue legal pathways towards citizenship, allows them to escape the shadows and work at jobs that pay a living wage. You are my example of how loving your neighbor AS yourself makes the world better and provides sunshine in darkness.

Graham Bateman is the Director of JFON North Central Texas.

Published: Tuesday, August 13, 2019