Immigration

Immigration Guiding Principles

The NEIPJC Immigration Working Group advocates for national immigration reform that includes the following:

  • Policies and enforcement that treat immigrants, regardless of legal status, with compassion and respect for the family unit.
  • Making the path to acquiring legal residency and citizenship simpler, friendlier, more accessible, and less bureaucratic.
  • A focus on improving and enforcing hiring laws for employers rather than immigration raids, detentions, and deportations.


U-Visa Resettlement Project

What is a U-Visa?

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 created two new nonimmigrant visas for noncitizen victims of crimes, the T visa and the U visa. Both visas are designed to provide immigration status to noncitizens who are assisting or are willing to assist authorities investigating crimes.

The U visa is designed for noncitizen crime victims who (1) have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse from criminal activity; (2) have information regarding the criminal activity; (3) assist government officials in the investigation or prosecution of such criminal activity; and (4) the criminal activity violated US law or occurred in the United States.

Family members may also be included on the petition including spouses, children, unmarried sisters and brothers under 18, mothers, fathers, as well as step parents and adoptive parents.

U visas last for four years. After three years, U-visa holders may apply for lawful permanent residence. U-visa holders automatically qualify for employment authorization.

There are several families in Postville who have received these visas.

About the project:

The U-Visa Resettlement Project began in November of 2011 in response to the return of five young Guatemalan men to resettle in the Postville area. Prior to the 2008 immigration raid, these five were employed as minors at Agriprocessors in violation of Iowa Child Labor Laws, and subjected to working conditions unsuited for minors. They returned in December with their families, because they received U-Visas from the United States Government. The U-Visa Committee formed in an effort to assist these young men and their families  during the resettlement process, particularly during the period between their arrival and work authorization.

History

One family group has located in the Cedar Falls/Waterloo area while the other three family groups have located in the Postville/Ossian area. They were, and are being assisted with their legal work by Des Moines attorney, Sonia Parras.

Filmmaker Luis Argueta, producer of “AbUSed: The Postville Raid,” made the arrangements for their travel. Transportation to Chicago was paid for by the Guatemalan government. Mr. Argueta arranged for a bus to bring the families to St Bridget’s Catholic Parish in Postville and traveled with them. The Guatemalan men and most of their family members arrived in two separate groups, the first one arrived on December 15th and the second group on December 27th. A third group is expected during the month of June.

At the invitation of Luis Argueta, the Immigration Working Group at The Northeast Iowa Peace and Justice Center has been coordinating this resettlement process. Upon arrival in groups, the families stayed with friends and relatives until housing could be located.

Faith communities in Decorah and Postville have been involved through scores of generous contributions and in-kind donations. Thank you!!! Retired ELCA pastor Rev. Steve Jacobsen served as fundraising coordinator. The Working Group has PowerPoint presentations which can be presented to any individuals, groups or organizations. Contact Ruth Palmer by email at  rjp1407@gmail.com.

The Committee continues to collect financial support for the four family groups. Initial resettlement costs have been met and a revolving loan fund has been established so families can borrow money to meet basic needs and cover emergencies. If you would like to contribute to this fund, checks should be made out to the NE Iowa Peace & Justice Center, Inc. 119 Winnebago St, Decorah, IA 52101, and the Memo portion of the check should designate the “U-Visa Resettlement Fund.”

Update: Our initial goal of $15,000 was surpassed by $3000! Thank you to all who gave so generously.  The fund was able to support all the families for 3 months by providing housing, food, medical care, & clothing until their work permits and Social Security numbers arrived.  All the adults are now employed and dealing with the realities of making ends meet. In order to continue our support for them, a revolving loan program has been set up for them to access. It is our intention that this program be used to meet basic needs, for health care emergencies, and for securing modes of transportation. So far, four loans have gone out and one has already been repaid. The families are also planning to donate to this fund to help support future arrivals. Another family will arrive in the fall. Our fundraising goal for the remainder of the year is $10,000.  Can you help? Please consider a donation.

1000 Kids for Iowa

1000 kids for Iowa is working to find safe homes in Iowa for child refugees from Central America.  If you are interested in helping in any way, from hosting a child to supporting services; please inquire.  More information can be found at www.1000KidsforIowa.org

Visit the Iowa Immigration Education Coalition

http://iowaimmigration.tumblr.com/