Who We Are – Detroit, Dearborn and Ypsilanti
Begun in 2010, Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON-SEMI) is part of an international movement to provide free legal services to refugees and immigrants from around the world. It is a small, grass-roots, volunteer driven organization committed to providing high quality, compassionate free legal services to immigrants and refugees. JFON_SEMI also provides education, advocacy and outreach to the larger community. JFON-SEMI supports a compassionate climate for current immigrants and fair and non-punitive immigration reform. Staff, Board, and volunteers work toward this goal through community outreach and education, participating with other local, regional and national immigration organizations, and supporting new program and policy initiatives.
The free legal services to immigrants and refugees revolve around three monthly legal clinics in Dearborn, Detroit and Ypsilanti. The clinics are housed in local United Methodist churches. People facing immigration matters who cannot afford a private attorney contact JFON-SEMI and make an appointment to attend one of the clinics. The clinics are staffed primarily by volunteers who offer their time and resources to ensure a welcome, comfortable and safe environment. During the clinics, the attorney and client discuss the client’s immigration situation and, if the case is legally valid, make plans to continue to work together.
The most common immigration issues JFON-SEMI addresses are:
- reuniting with families
- seeking protection through asylum or from an abusive partner
- applying to become a US Citizen
- taking advantage of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
In addition to legal services, JFON-SEMI also supports the Interfaith Detainee Visitation Program. In this program, a group of interfaith volunteers visit the detention center in Monroe, MI twice a month to meet with detainees and to engage in conversation, support and/or prayer. Detainees are typically immigrants either awaiting trial or an official deportation. Many detainees find tremendous relief in speaking with someone from outside the facility and share their concerns, stresses, and hopes. Volunteers oftentimes contact family members, attorneys or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to provide updates on detainees’ well-being or to relay messages or requests. Several detainees who have been incarcerated for months have become regular participants and look forward to these visits.
Melanie D. Goldberg, Staff Attorney
Melanie D. Goldberg has been practicing Immigration Law in the Detroit area for more than 15 years. Through the years she has both maintained her own practice and associated with trusted colleagues. She graduated from New York Law School and is admitted to practice in Michigan and New York. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and serves on the Executive Committee of the Michigan Chapter. Melanie is actively involved in AILA’s National Day of Action (lobbying for better immigration laws). She frequently educates on issues of immigration as a guest speaker to any group willing to listen.
Tori Booker, Site Director
Tori Booker, MSW, MPH joined JFON-SEMI is Site Director since 2013. She has a background in community-based public health and worked with migrant and seasonal farmworkers for many years before joining JFON-SEMI. She is an alumnus of the University of Michigan and has over 20 years experience in the non-profit setting. A lifelong Methodist, Tori is a member of First United Methodist Church Ann Arbor.
JFON-SEMI Volunteers and Supporters
Our clients are served by a professional immigration attorney who remains with their case until relief is granted or all avenues are exhausted. The volunteers who work in the clinics hear the real life stories and see the moral issues of immigration in a much clearer light.
While JFON is part of UMCOR – each region is responsible for raising its own operating funds. If you support the work of JFON Southeastern Michigan is doing for the community, we encourage you to make a donation.
JFON-Southeastern Michigan would like to acknowedge the following foundations and organizations for their support:
- UMC – Detroit Conference Board of Church and Society
- UMC – Detroit Conference Board of Global Ministries
- UMC – Detroit Conference Hispanic Ministries Committee
- UMC – The Urban Alliance
- The United Methodist Union of Greater Detroit