February News Regarding Immigrants

Dear Community Members,

January has been a very busy month. BRSN has been honored to assist new immigrants with attorney fees, rides to Indy to meet with attorneys, and rides locally for needed resources, medical services, hosting, and some needed hand-holding. The immigrants we’ve been able to help include African, Latino, Ueghur, and Kurdish individuals.

IMPORTANT MEETING FOR BRSN COMMUNITY:

If you are able to assist with any one of over 20 BRSN services, we invite you to a special meeting to discuss these services and what role you might be able to play. The meetings will be held on Wednesday, March 4 and on Wednesday, March 11. Both meetings begin at 7 p.m. (It is the same meeting, held on two different dates, to accommodate people’s schedules.) Location is TBA. If you are able to attend, RSVP to: bloomingtonrefugees@gmail.com.

ADVOCACY: On the national level, things have not been more horrifying. There are so many terribly harmful and fully nonsensical policies against which we can advocate, that I have put them on a separate (attached) document. Because of the severity of some of these policies, I’m also attaching a list of Contact Information for Elected Officials. (Thanks to Christie, Gracia, and Pete for the alerts!)

And NOTE: The deadline for responding to USCIS (massive) fee increases is TOMORROW, Feb. 10 (see Advocacy attachment).


ITEMS AVAILABLE FOR PICK-UP: If any immigrants whom you are helping need items:

2 dressers, love seat, end table, coffee table, full bed with frame, pull-out couch, sleeper sofa, dinette set, several couches and tables, and many place settings, wooden TV stand and a 5 x 7 foot rug.

The items are free, but must be picked up; we have the information on when and where for each item; and BRSN should be able to help with pick-up and delivery.

JOBS: If you are aware of any immigrants needing employment (from part-time to full-time) please notify us. Also, please let us know if the person speaks English.

BRSN INTERN: We are happy to announce an excellent intern from PACE and SPEA. She is Maddy Easling, and has nonprofit experience and interests. Some of you may be hearing from Maddy regarding assistance for immigrants in the community.

SPECIAL THANKS: We would like to thank Malcolm Abrams, publisher and editor of BLOOM MAGAZINE, who has so often and so effectively helped BRSN in regard to fundraising, publicity, and advocacy. As you will see in the latest issue of Bloom (Feb.-March 2020) he has singled us out for our work in charitable diversity action. He also, in this latest issue, has printed an excellent editorial by Attorney Christie Popp regarding ICE in Monroe County.

We also are extremely grateful to SECRETLY GROUP, a quiet, sometimes behind-the-scenes organization. It is a family of American independent and highly successful record labels based right here in Bloomington. Their generous grant has enabled us to assist immigrants in so many ways, including attorney fees and the ever-rising costs for asylum- and other immigrant-related applications.

HELP NEEDED IN OFFERING FREE TAX SERVICES:

The United Way free community tax services program for low to moderate income residents has an urgent need for fluent Spanish-speaking volunteers to help with tax preparation from now until mid-April!  The tax prep clinic in Spanish takes place in Bloomington City Hall Saturday mornings 9 am-12:00.  Training is provided.  For more information and to volunteer, please contact Amy Leyenbeck at amy@monroeunitedway.org or 812-334-8370.

IN CLOSING: Your help and generosity, as always, is more appreciated than words can say. Because of you, more of our clients are receiving asylum, citizenship, and crucial legal assistance toward obtaining these statuses, as well as food, and medical, household, and other resources.

We also are grateful to all the volunteers who visit with and drive immigrants to the resource agencies in town, and for the mentoring and care, which mean so very much to immigrants fleeing horrific violence and tragedy, and in great need of safety and friendship.

ATTACHMENTS: Contact Information for Elected Officials, Advocacy for February 2020, Events of Interest for February and March 2020, Letter from Cole (Cole Varga, Executive Director of Exodus in Indianapolis)

Take care,
Diane Legomsky, Chair
Bloomington Refugee Support Network, Inc.