Update on Refugees and Immigrants, 2020

Dear Community Members,   

First, a heartfelt congratulations and thank you for the truly wonderful help you have given to immigrants (asylum seekers, Dreamers …) in the Bloomington area, in Indy, and globally. In addition to the unimaginable desperation and danger to the immigrants at our southern border, there are individuals and groups from many populations seeking refuge and asylum here. Through your help, they have received  legal assistance, application and medical fees, transportation, interpreters, housing, food, clothing and other resources and, especially important, comfort and friendship. And, because of all the different ways in which you have given, many immigrants now have obtained certificates of naturalization /citizenship, and others are on a hopeful course toward asylum.  Laws, policies, and attitudes may change, but not the people who need help, and not the commitment of all of you.

The needs of refugees and immigrants do not stop in the winter. On the attached sheet, you will find descriptions of ways to help them. Below is a brief summary:        

WINTER CLOTHING DRIVE: .St. Thomas Lutheran Church (3800 E 3rd St.) and St. Paul’s Catholic Center (1413 E. 17th St.) will partner with BRSN to collect winter coats, gloves/mittens, scarves and hats, especially for MEN and CHILDREN, and also for women, through January.

MICA (Migrant and Immigrant Community Action Project), and
HIAS (Hebrew Immigration Aid Society):

ADVOCACY NEEDED NOW (our thanks to Christie Popp for the notice!) Our government is proposing ADDITIONAL bars to asylum. The attached five documents give you information on how to advocate (“comment”), the proposals, their background, and so forth. Each document is fairly long, so you might want to simply view them on your computer.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP BRSN (donation, or other help such as hosting, driving immigrants around town to find resources (we would supply you with the locations), interpret, etc., please let us know.)

Thank you again for the wonderful work you are doing. More immigrants come each week, and it is so fulfilling to be working with you to help them however we can.

ATTACHMENTS (for those who wish to download them): Needs of Refugees and Immigrants; (the rest regard the advocacy movement to prevent the additional bars to asylum): Procedures for Public Comment, Asylum Eligibility, Background of Asylum Eligibility, PROPOSED REGULATORY CHANGES IN ASYLUM ELIGIBILITY, REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS OF PROPOSED ADDITIONAL BARS TO ASYLUM, Sample Comments on Proposal Asylum Rules.

Take good care, and let’s hope humanitarian immigration policies!

Diane Legomsky, Chair, Bloomington Refugee Support Network

October News and Events Regarding Immigrants

Dear Community Members,

After spending two weeks in Greece (and missing the chance to be in correspondence with you), I’d like to update you a bit on Greek refugees. Many of the camps have been closed, generally because of unliveable conditions (regarding safety, health, food, medical care, etc.). The refugees, in those camps, have been placed in apartments. It was not possible to meet with them, and I did not want to push my presence onto anyone. I did meet with a large group of Syrian refugees, in a housing complex near Thermopylae in the Peloponnese. They seemed basically healthy (but I am no doctor nor nutritionist), although they were extremely shy and quiet. They did seem eager to return smiles and to shake hands (well, really, to touch hands). It is impossible to comprehend or accept the level of failure of the U.S. to fulfill even a fraction of its responsibility to resettle refugees here – we have the resources, and we are not “out of room”.

Also, a big thank-you to Rosemary Hart for stepping in, so effectively, during my absence, as well as to all those who took care of helping immigrants living here and to all those who took care of financial assistance and consulting for them. This was such a great group effort!

PREEMPTIVE LOVE: It is exciting to notify you of a new student chapter (IU) of a great national organization, Preemptive Love. This national coalition, stretching across Iraq, Syria, the U.S., and beyond, working together to unmake violence and create the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible. On the attached Events of Interest, please see their Syrian Culture and Cooking Night this coming Monday evening (Oct. 28).

FURNITURE: Thanks to the generosity of our members, we now have the following items available at no cost: infant car seat with seatbelt, child car seat with seatbelt, sofabed in good condition, floor lamp, table lamp, and a desktop Xerox machine. If you or an organization is in need of any of these items, please let me know.

CONCERT ON LOVE AND EXILE: from the Director of Community Engagement for Indiana University’s Singing Hoosiers. Their Fall concert is coming up, and its themes surround that of Love and Exile. They have established a great partnership with Zeshan Bagewaldi and will be performing his song Brown Power (see below) with him. Their organization feels that it is extremely important to put action behind the words and messaging of Brown Power, and the Bloomington Refugee Support Network was invited to co-sponsor this beautiful event.

CAREER IN HEALTH CARE: Robert Moore, of MCCSC has notified us of the following class, as well as other critical services, all of which are free.

There will be an adult education class, helping attendees to become certified and employed as home health aides.  This training is in partnership with Elders Journey. For registration and further Information: Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Call (812) 330-7731 to sign up!

Also, their partners at WorkOne (, the IU School of Social Work, Ivy Tech, and the military branches offer supportive services to help immigrants achieve their goals:

 Life coaching
 Career advising and employment placement
 Transportation assistance
 Child care voucher applications
 Placement into further training

NOTE: The BRSN has volunteer drivers and interpreters available to accompany immigrants to these classes.


movement in the 1960s that advocated for Brown Power, rights for Mexican-Americans and Immigrants in general. The movement was derived from the Civil Rights Movements as it fought for the equality of a minority. For further information, go to–j2HrsCdSH9YpysPavqJ7f5fC

ADVOCACY:  (A) It seems that the federal government is staying busy creating more burdens and obstacles for immigrants and refugees. Thanks to Christie Popp, C. W. Poole, and ACLU, the following items of great concern have been brought to our attention. We hope you will contact U.S. legislators, as well as Attorney General Barr and President Trump (let us know if you need addresses or phone contacts).

(B) DELAY IN EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION: Under current law, asylum-seekers may petition for employment authorization documents if 150 days have passed since they filed their full asylum application, unless they are responsible for any delays in the process, and they have not received a decision on their applications. Asylees have the immediate right to work with or without the documents, though many choose to obtain the documents for purposes of convenience or to identify themselves, according to USCIS.

Even the 150-day wait time can put asylum-seekers in dire financial straits: “homeless, unable to feed themselves and their children, and struggling to get health care,” according to an April report from Human Rights First.


Under the interim rule announced Friday, the agency’s director will have the power to issue appellate decisions in immigration cases that have not been decided within an allotted timeframe. It also creates a new office of policy within EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review) to implement the administration’s immigration policies. For more information, google EOIR Immigration.


Millions of aspiring Americans apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) each year. But under a previously unknown national security program known as the “Controlled Application Review and Resolution Program” (CARRP), the government excludes many applicants from Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities from these opportunities by delaying and denying their applications without legal authority. Learn more about CARRP and how it has harmed the naturalization process:

In closing, the BRSN continues to assist immigrants and refugees with financial needs, employment referrals, food and other necessities, drivers, interpreters, hosts and, simply, a hand in friendship. As always, we are so grateful to all of you who have done so much in financial and volunteer assistance. Because of you, immigrants, traumatized and battered in their home country and on their trek to the U.S., are able to have a basically safe home for themselves and their children, and a community that welcomes them.

Attachments: EVENTS-OF-INTEREST-Late-October-and-Early-November-2019

Enjoy the beautiful autumn,
Diane Legomsky, Chair, Bloomington Refugee Support Network

News on Refugees and Other Updates

Dear Community Members,

We wish we had a lot of good news for you. While we’ve been able to help immigrant families with supplemental funding for housing, applications, attorney fees, and have been able to provide local drivers and drivers to Indy and Chicago, as well as other paths to familiarity and comfort in Bloomington, nevertheless there have been terrible developments on the federal level.

GHASTLY POLICY IS IMMINENT REGARDING REFUGEES: (From HIAS – Hebrew Immigration Aid Society): The Trump Administration announced that it intends to lower the refugee admissions ceiling for Fiscal Year 2020 to 18,000. This tragically low number holds severe consequences for the U.S. Resettlement Program and our historic commitment to welcome. 
Even worse is a new executive order signed by the president, allowing states and municipalities the unprecedented power to veto refugee resettlement – effectively a state-by-state, city-by-city refugee ban.

Urgent action is needed:

Share HIAS’ public statements on the proposed refugee ceiling and the Executive Order

Send a message to your Members of Congress asking them to speak out on behalf of higher refugee admissions 

Call your governors and mayors to ensure that they will welcome refugees in their states and communities, in response to the new Executive Order. 

The new limit—just slightly more than half the number of refugees accepted during the current fiscal year—is in line with the administration’s crackdown on all forms of immigration. It comes as the number of refugees fleeing violence and persecution around the world has swelled to 71 million people, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the highest number of displaced people since World War II.

NOTE FROM BRSN: These policies both mirror existing trends in Europe, and at the same time inspire the expansion and intractability of movements in Europe and elsewhere. Never has there been a more critical time to fight hard for refugees and immigrants to find shelter in this country and in Bloomington itself where, with all of us working together, we have shown that we can support them, and give them safety, health, comfort, and friendship.

Bear in mind that the U.S. has certainly done its share, via its environmental, economic, and military policies, to create this crisis. Our global leadership role, our most basic human compassion, and our deepest moral sense do compel us to fight these inhumane policies, and to do it now. This will impact displaced persons all over the globe – 71 million suffering people. Attached is a sheet of advocacy templates and also the contact information for national and Indiana District 9 state legislators.

IDENTITARIANISM IN THE U.S.: The political group, Indivisible, and the national NGO — Southern Poverty Law Center (which tracks extremist and hate groups throughout the U.S.), have been researching Identitarianism in the U.S. Our Network (BRSN) is concerned with discrimination and hate at all times, but particularly, of course, when it impacts, or threatens to impact, the refugees, asylum seekers, Dreamers, and other immigrants seeking a safe home here in the U.S. Check out: Indivisible and SPLC — Identitarianism

THE BORDER IS HERE — LOCAL ENFORCEMENT LAWS: On a different note but quite critical, is dealing with the impact of local immigration enforcement. There will be a public discussion on Wed., Nov. 6, from 7-8:30 at the MCPL (see Events of Interest, attached).

ESL AND CAREER CERTIFICATIONS: The next new student registration for English language learners is this week, October 3 and 4.  

Some of our English language classes offer industry-recognized certifications, such as Early Childhood Education, Microsoft Office, and Entrepreneurship & Small Business!

Contact:          Rob Moore, Director of Adult Education
MCCSC, Broadview Learning Center
705 W. Coolidge Dr., Bloomington, IN 47403
Phone 812-330-7731

P.S. I will be away in Greece Oct. 5 – 17, and hope to meet with some of the refugees and immigrants there (Greece’s refugee camps have been in disastrous shape, but the govt. there is moving refugees to apartments.) In May 2018, the number of refugees and migrants in Greece stood at more than 60,000, including about 14,000 on the islands. Smaller country than ours, much tougher economic circumstances, but they are doing so much more than us.

Because we are all working hard and working together, our community will continue to take good care of immigrants in our community. You already have done so much, and have made the world a better place. Let’s never give up the challenge!

ATTACHMENTS: Events of Interest; CJAM Gala; Advocacy Templates; Contact Information

Thank you for everything you’ve done, and take good care,
Diane Legomsky, Chair
Bloomington Refugee Support Network, Inc.

Fall Update on Immigrants

Dear Community Members,

September is always an extremely busy month in Bloomington, and this year is no different. The BRSN has had the honor and happiness of helping numerous immigrant families in the community with attorney fees, rides to Indy for govt. appointments and attorney sessions, application fees,  job connections along with resume building, and consultations on resources and other opportunities.

We’ve also learned of many additional opportunities, which we list below.

UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY FOR ADULT EDUCATION: If you’re working with an adult who needs a high school credential, the MCCSC Adult Education is doing New Student Orientation. They can help adults study for the high school equivalency tests. Last year, they had over 150 adults do just that!

Morning, afternoon, and evening classes are available in several locations. They can help find resource for childcare, transportation, and other barriers participants may have been facing.

Interested adults should call (812) 330-7731 and see what a difference this can make in someone’s life! Please feel free to share with others!

Robert D. Moore Director of Adult Education
Monroe County Community School Corporation
Broadview Learning Center

SALE OF AFRICAN-INSPIRED ARTWORK:  This year there will be another fall holiday sale of Kenyan and African-inspired handblown glass, jewelry, cloth items, basketry, etc.  Due to increasing costs of selling at the IM Union, this year the sale will be held at the Unitarian Universalist Church at Fee Lane and the Bypass on Friday, Nov. 15th between 11 and 7pm in Room 208, a spacious sunny location.  And parking is free, so you loyalists who braved the expensive Union lot will be particularly happy about that!  The prices are very reasonable, the selection excellent after the Oct. Kenyan trip.  We’ll also be selling at the UU Bazaar in early Dec. at our booth, but the display is limited by space.  We hope to see everyone there–have fun while doing good!  For questions, call Claire Robertson at 812-336-3696 before Oct. 15. 

SPECIAL THANKS TO BLOOM MAGAZINE AND TO ART RE-SALE:  We are very grateful to Bloom Magazine for their beautiful and exciting gala in August. The BRSN was the special recipient of all donations, which helped us immensely in serving the needs of local immigrants. We wish to thank University Baptist Church, St. Thomas Lutheran Church, and Beth Shalom Congregation for their amazing Art Re-Sale event in August. They were kind enough to include BRSN as a recipient of the proceeds from their generous members’ donations of artwork, sold to the community.

OPPOSE THE EXPANSION OF FAST-TRACK REMOVALS: The Trump administration recently announced a policy that would fast-track the deportation of thousands of immigrants by massively expanding “expedited removal”, which allows the Department of Homeland Security to quickly deport individuals without a chance to speak with an attorney or have a fair day in court. The public has until September 23 to submit comments to the government opposing this policy. We invite you to personalize and submit a comment to help us halt this unnecessary policy that will threaten due process and sow fear in communities throughout the nation. Also, please let us know if you need another copy of the Contact Information for Elected Officials.

(This is a message from: Immigration Justice Campaign, an initiative of:
American Immigration Council
American Immigration Lawyers’ Association
American Immigrant Representation Project)

HUGE SELECTION OF GENTLY USED CLOTHES AND TOYS: A friend has cleaned out her girls’ gently used clothes and toys (she says “there’s enough for a village!”), and would like to offer them to refugee or immigrant families in need, if possible. 
Contact: Sarah Phillips


·         El Centro Comunal Latino’s Tutoring Program for Latino children and youths in grades K-12 is being offered at the El Centro office on the second floor of the public library on Mondays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays 5:00-7:00 pm.  Volunteer tutors work with the children on their homework.  Latino parents can contact El Centro about what day/time their student is able to come for tutoring by contacting El Centro at 812-355-7513 or, or by texting Juanita. 

·         -Live-in Caregiver Sought to assist elderly woman with early-stage dementia, to prepare meals, do house chores, and assist with the activities of daily living.  Spanish is not needed, but Latinas with limited English are invited to apply as well as others with interest in this position.  Benefits: free rent with a private bedroom, all meals, and $1000 per month stipend.  

·         The Mexican Consular in Indianapolis is able to cover the renovation processing fees for DACA renewals when this is needed — though ONLY for Mexican nationals — in its jurisdiction which covers the southern part of Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois, and all of Kentucky.  For more information individuals can contact the Mexican Consulate in Indianapolis, Daniel Carrera at ext. 114,, or Mariana Torres Sojo, ext. 121,

JOHN OLIVER ON “LEGAL IMMIGRATION: For humor and reality check. (Thanks for forwarding this, Christie!)

ADDITIONAL ENGLISH COURSES: The Bloomington Reformed Presbyterian Church  is offering English classes for immigrants at no charge. Pastor Philip McCollum is directing the program. It is an excellent course, and highly recommended. To enroll, contact the Church Web: Address: 302 E 1st St, Bloomington, IN 47401. Phone: (812) 339-1922

We thank you again for all your dedicated help, news, resources, and compassion – together we can help the vulnerable immigrant families in our community. They need so much, but ask for so little. We wish we could fulfill every need, but of course must disperse our financial and volunteer resources as equitably as possible.  We will be sure to keep you informed!

If you’d like to reach us, please contact us at: Note: we also have PayPal on our website, if you wish to make a tax-deductible contribution.

Thank you again, and take care,
Diane Legomsky, Chair,
Bloomington Refugee Support Network (BRSN)

Early Fall Update on Immigrants

Dear Community Members,

It has been a busy but productive summer for us here at BRSN. We’ve worked with many immigrant families, have been able to help several individual immigrants with application fees, attorney fees, and jobs. We’ve also been the grateful recipient of several fundraisers.


Re-Sale Art:  art from generous donors was sold on August 18, with four beneficiaries: Congregation Beth Shalom, St. Thomas Lutheran Church, University Baptist Church, and BRSN.

Bloom Magazine, We also were the recipients of a fabulous gala by Bloom, which has always been such an advocate and supporter of BRSN and the immigrant families it serves.

Dine & Donates are our latest fundraiser, coming up (see Dine & Donate in EVENTS OF INTEREST, attached), organized by Josefa – thank you! These Dine & Donates are by King Dough Pizza and BJ’s Restaurant. We’ve attached the two Dine & Donate flyers for the participating restaurants, which you need to bring with you to the restaurant.  Please participate, and feel free to share the flyers, which are attached.

PAYPAL: We now have a Donate button our website – note that you first enter the amount, and then hit either “Paypal” or “Debit or Credit card”.

Our deepest thanks to all these generous donors!

We have rec’d notice for several job openings (ranging from contracting jobs in gardening and other yard, porch, and drainage work, housekeeping, and painting to employee positions with auto sales companies, restaurants, and IU. Also, a house is available for rent ($3,000/month) and can house up 5 people. It is a lovely home, in a very convenient eastside location.
(For jobs as contractors, we will connect you with individuals who can assist you with tax issues.)

GLOBAL CENTER EVENT – COMING UP TOMORROW! The Global Center works to connect educators, students, and the public with resources and opportunities to advance global research, teaching, and learning. They will hold an Open House tomorrow (Friday, August 30th)  in GISB 3004, 1-3 pm to share more about their funding and programmatic opportunities and to welcome you for the new year. (GISB  is on Jordan, adjacent to Wells Library.)

RIGHTS OF IMMIGRANTS: The Nat’l Immigration Law Center announced:
“To learn about the three crucial things you should know about the new regulation and how it harms immigrant families and individuals seeking a healthy, stable future in the U.S., go to the NICL website and ask for “public charge” ( This is an inhumane and irrational regulation that seeks to punish those who receive free government assistance, such as Medicaid. And Daniel Soto sent a very valuable and reliable link to

Despite some of the disheartening policies coming from the federal govt., remember that there is an ever-increasing number of organizations fighting for refugees’ and immigrants’ rights and well-being, and that, here in Bloomington, we have an enormous number of people working to help as well.

Enjoy this Labor Day week-end and its wonderful events. And thank you for all that you are doing!

Attachments: Events of Interest, Dine & Donate

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

BRSN Summer Update on Immigrants

Dear Community Members,

First, a quick note: We sent this out a few days ago, but somehow the entire mailing was blocked, due to changes in g-mail’s mass “bcc” mailings. So we were unable to notify you in time for the Nagasaki Remembrance Vigil (last night), and of the excellent radio play at the MCPL, sponsored by The Writer’s Guild, by Antonia Matthew. It will be available on CATS in the near future, and we will give you plenty of advance notice.

HELP FOR IMMIGRANTS: As you can see, in the current climate the problems and horrors never stop for immigrants. We are grateful for your advocacy letters to Senator’s Braun’s staff in Ellettsville this past week. Also in this past week there has been another attack on Mexicans in El Paso, with 22 people murdered and 24 injured.

We also are dealing with worsening federal policies for immigrants. While we all are working hard to help the immigrants, who are seeking, simply, a safe life and a home for themselves and their children, we clearly are not done. Advocacy, and fundraising to help immigrants stay here safely, is still needed. And BRSN will continue to supplement the fees and expenses for as many immigrant households as possible, to provide their households with drivers and interpreters and friendship, and to find affordable legal and medical services, as well as housing and trasnsportation. 

ART RESALE EVENT: This event will be held tomorrow (Sunday, August 18) at St. Thomas Lutheran Church. It will sell all kinds of (gently used) artwork, including paintings, art books, and pottery. The proceeds will benefit St. Thomas Lutheran Church, Beth Shalom Synagogue, and University Baptist Church. And the organizers have just invited BRSN as an additional beneficiary, for which we are very grateful! (See Events of Interest).

ADVOCACY: We have an important note from FCNL (Friends Committee on National Legislation):

Time and time again, the administration has demanded more money for harmful immigration enforcement policies and Congress has funded them. The spending bills coming out of Congress continue to provide money with no guarantee that it will be spent to protect children, rather than further militarize our border. 

We hope you will write a short letter requesting greater investment in true humanitarian assistance, and mail or bring it to your elected officials. If you don’t have the contact information for elected officials that we had sent out, just let us know, and we’ll be happy to re-send it to you.


ICE raids are nothing new. But for over two years now, the Trump administration has been terrorizing our communities at a new level – tearing thousands of families apart, spreading fear and hate. If this isn’t the kind of country we want to live in, then we must keep fighting to defend our communities. The best way to fight back? KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. And help your family, friends, and neighbors to know theirs. Go to:

Spread the word on Facebook and Twitter so we all know what to do if ICE shows up.

PENNSYLVANIA IMMIGRATION RESOURCE CENTER (PIRC): The PIRC provides access to justice for vulnerable immigrants in detention and in the community through legal services, education and advocacy: They also are looking for volunteers to translate Russian documents into English, and their website lists reputable agencies providing immigrant support at the border (

IMPORTANT NAGASAKI REMEMBRANCE VIGIL HELD: A well-attended and peaceful vigil was held on Friday, August 9, at the Monroe County Courthouse, to mark the anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki.  With the U.S. military budget — including funding for a new generation of first strike nuclear weapons approaching $1 trillion — urgent human needs go unmet. Our congratulations to the Bloomington Peace Action Coalition for organizing this successful and educational event.

LATINO HEALTH MEETING: These are held quarterly, and the next one will be later this year.   This regular meeting provides an opportunity for health, mental health, and other providers, specialists, and individuals who work with the Latino population in our area to share information about events, initiatives, and concerns and network with each other.  All are welcome! We will give you ample advance notice for its next quarterly meeting.

ESL/ENL CLASSES: There are now two locations/program for ESL/ENL:

The MCCSC will hold ESL and ENL classes at Broadview Learning Center
Phone: (812) 330-7731 Web: Facebook: Broadview Learning Center. Address:  705 W. Coolidge Dr., Bloomington.

Also, the Bloomington Reformed Presbyterian Church will offer ESL and ENL, for beginners and advanced  speakers. To enroll, contact the Church Web: Address: 302 E 1st St, Bloomington, IN 47401. Phone: (812) 339-1922

JOBS: VITAL’s OFFERINGS: Get help with basic computers activities at VITAL’s Step One.   Drop in assistance with completing forms, online job searches, resume and cover letter writing, and learning basic computer skills.

Step One is open every Monday 6-8pm and Wednesday 10am-noon.
For more information on this and on English language classes: 
Email to request fliers for specific programs or visit their website to learn more information about VITAL Address: 303 E Kirkwood Ave, Bloomington, IN 47408 Phone:(812) 349-3173

JOBS: SUMMER AND FALL: First, our thanks to Malcolm Abrams and Bloom Magazine for encouraging people to hire immigrants for work. Many of you have responded, with offerings of jobs for yard work, cleaning, and other types of employment. Whether or not the workers have higher skills and experience, the earnings are needed now, and our clients are most eager to find work. (As you may know, the cost of attorney fees are very high, but critical for successful asylum cases, and the application fees are rising higher than the cost of living. The BRSN is supplementing these fees as much as it can, but of course our funds are limited.) In addition to independent contractor jobs, there are also employee opportunities at area businesses. Please contact us at our website if you, or someone whom you know, is interested.

CELEBRATION OF PEACE AND DIVERSITY: Bloomington United will hold this celebration, an evening of solidarity, on August 27, at 5:30 at our Courthouse. (See Events of Interest). The theme is: “We are stronger than hate”.

ATTACHMENTS: Events of Interest, August and September 2019 and, for your reading pleasure, “Immigration Facts and Humor”  (you’ll love it).

In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your summer, and thank you so much for all you are doing!

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

Summer Update on Immigrants

Dear Community Members,

Hope you’re all enjoying our summer. And remember that Jazz in July (each Friday in July at 7 p.m. at the Amphitheatre) is about to start.

WORLD REFUGEE DAY: We thank everyone who participated in WRD 2019, particularly Deb Fish and the UU Social Justice Task Force, who made sure everything went smoothly. (The Herald-Times did not cover the event, but we’ll work on that for next year.) And special thanks to Savannah Powell, Rachel Roberts, and Pete Lenzen for all their work, to the (incredible) IU sorority AKA, to Seeking Refuge, and to all those NGO’s who left informative helpful literature. The music of Salaam was beautiful, and we were able to sell earrings made by Syrian refugee women (Drop Earrings Not Bombs) and leather goods made by a Syrian refugee family (M.H. Leathergoods). All funds go directly to the Syrian artists, and you can order from their websites.

VIGIL TO PROTEST THE DETENTION CAMPS: As you know, the camps are inhumane at best. They are “housing” migrants who have travelled a more tortuous journey than, I’m sure, any of us could imagine. Not only has their health deteriorated after such a trek, but they also are emotionally severely wounded. These overcrowded, understaffed, underequipped detention camps are not the answer. The purpose of the vigil is to voice our outrage at the inhumane conditions in which thousands upon thousands of innocent and vulnerable men, women, and children are being detained, and the numbers just keep growing.

JOBS: If you haven’t read the latest issue of Bloom Magazine, please do (particularly the especially insightful editorial on the benefits of hiring immigrants)! We have received many inquiries asking if immigrants are available to begin various jobs – most are temporary, through summer and fall, but some are for indoor work such as repairs and cleaning. If you know of any immigrant who is able to take on a job, please let us know. (We have the names of potential employers, but do not want to list their names and contact info. publicly.) But summer has begun, and we want people to be able to start work as soon as possible. So please help us get the word out. (You can post the word on bulletin boards at establishments and churches who allow it.) If someone needs an interpreter to assist with the logistics or introductions, we have many volunteer interpreters.

NEW CITIZEN: If you recall the baby shower for Aris and Gabe, well, their beautiful little Brianna is now a Bloomington resident and U.S. citizen! They so appreciated your many loving gifts, and everyone there is healthy!

RESOURCES: We, and the rest of the Bloomington community, are helping more and more immigrants get legal help, medical help, and help with resources ranging from food to furniture to household goods. There are many resource agencies out there, and we try to drive people to the various agencies to get what they need.

If you would like to donate a particular service (driver to Indy or Chicago or around town or interpreting), or would like to make a monetary donation, it is greatly appreciated. You’ve already done so much, but, hey, we’re never satisfied. We are a 501c3, and donations can be mailed to: 3101 E. Saint James Court, Bl., 47401.  In the meantime, thank you again for EVERYTHING you’ve done – and you’ve done so much.

ATTACHMENT: Events of Interest

Take care, and hope to see you at the vigil,
Diane Legomsky

World Refugee Day and Other News

Dear Community Members,

 We have several things to tell you, all of them good!

 WORLD REFUGEE DAY: We have finally reached the time for WORLD REFUGEE DAY!. This day has been designated by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to celebrate and support the refugees and other immigrants throughout the world.

We have a wonderful event planned, with help from many people and organizations. We’re especially grateful to UU for allowing us to hold the event in the UU Fellowship Room (excellent space and parking, and their fantastic help!). We always are seeking more ethnic foods donated by restaurants (we will have some, though!), and people to help staff the various event tables on and off (advocacy, updates, children’s tgable, food, sale of refugee artwork…). It is a 4-hour event, and we expect that guests will come and go. The attached poster describes the event – if you can post it at your organization or at a local business, we’d appreciate it!  In the meantime, we hope many of you can come for a bit!

AMERICAN DREAM AND PROMISE ACT: Great news! This week, the House passed the American Dream and Promise Act of 2019 (H.R. 6). This is a critical step toward a permanent solution for millions of Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients who have been stuck in limbo for years. Your advocacy made this win possible and now it is time for the next step.

While our community members are still at risk for detention and deportation, the House has the opportunity to act again for Dreamers, TPS recipients, and others at the mercy of cruel immigration policies. Your representative will soon vote on funding for immigration enforcement.

The proposed spending bill includes many strong oversight provisions that rein-in harmful funding – provisions we’ve been asking for. Your member of Congress needs to hear from you to strengthen them and get them over the finish line. Urge Rep. Hollingsworth to take the next step to protect immigrants by divesting from enforcement spending and investing in true humanitarian solutions.

EMPLOYMENT OPORTUNITIES: Thanks to the word getting out about the talented and hardworking immigrants in the area, and thanks to Malcolm Abrams’ great editorial in the latest issue of Bloom Magazine, we have received many requests for immigrant employees. If you have an employment opportunity, or know of an immigrant seeking work, please let us know.

 Enjoy these nice summer days, and we thank you for all your time, talents, energy, ideas, and donations!

Attachment: Poster for World Refugee Day

Take good care,
Diane Legomsky,
Bloomington Refugee Support Network

Special News for June Regarding Immigrants and Refugees

Dear Community Members,

We are excited to tell you about some news and some opportunities coming up this month.

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY:  A local family is seeking a companion and helper for an elderly woman, who requires help getting up and down and moving around, and also requires a companion. English is required. This position would last from, approximately, late June through late July. Please contact us via our BRSN e-mail if you are interested, or know someone who might be interested.

BLOOM MAGAZINE SPECIAL EDITOR’S MESSAGE: Don’t miss the next issue of Bloom magazine. Malcolm Abrams has written a special Editor’s Message regarding the need, and the advantages, in hiring immigrants.  This will appear in June/July issue of Bloom, coming out in early June. We hope you will forward his message to employers (businesses and property owners) in our community.

WORLD REFUGEE DAY: June 20: The UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) has declared June 20 “World Refugee Day”. Here in the Bloomington area, we extend this celebration and recognition to all immigrants, who are facing increasing hardships and increasing challenges in seeking U.S. residence and citizenship.

This event will include food from several countries, live Arabic music, children’s table and games, advocacy tables, an information table with the latest updates, staffed by experts in refugee and immigration issues, and items made by Syrian refugees – with all proceeds going to the refugees.

And, we of course need to mention — we hope many of you will help with the arrangements. Our core group of volunteers and community partners are already preparing many of the offerings, but we can always use more hands, and more help, in arranging for the food and the set-up.

And special thanks to the Unitarian Universalist Church for hosting this event. It will be held in their Fellowship Room, and you will find parking and movement very comfortable. We hope to see you there. We will send out a poster in a week.

Remember – this is our primary opportunity to learn about, advocate for, celebrate, and welcome all immigrants to our community.

As always, we thank you for all your generosity and commitment at a time when so many others have despaired of helping immigrants enter our country and enjoy our freedoms, our support, and our friendship. And we hope to see you at WRD on June 20!

ATTACHMENT: Events of Interest in June, 2019

Take good care,
Diane Legomsky

May 2019 Update on Immigrants

Dear Community Members,

While things are slower in the summer here in Bloomington, we’d like to take this time to update you a bit on information about our area’s immigrants. The number has nearly doubled since last year, and we are all working hard to in bring our clients to attorneys, to hearings, and to the various resources around town, and helping them with utilities, finding jobs and housing and, in general, in being there as a friend. They often have to wait over 6 months to get their work permit, so in the meantime they are in great need of funds, a place to stay, and many resources.

INFORMATION LINKS (from Sarah Phillips, Professor of Anthropology, IU): Links to resources from EMC (Ecologies of Migrant Care):   a wonderful resource on migrants   interview material with Solalinde and others  links to materials on a range of issues  link to resources

ADVOCACY: Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019 (S178). Please thank for their affirmative votes Sen. Todd Young (202-224-5623) and Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (202-2245-5315), and also Rep. Mike Braun (202-224-4814), who cosponsored the bill. Purpose of bill: to direct U.S. resources to address gross violations of universally recognized human rights, including mass internment of over 1,000,000 Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in China and the intimidation and threats faced by U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

Also, please contact your elected officials to end the DOJ’s criminalization of those giving humanitarian aid to immigrants on their dangerous and life-threatening trek to reach the U.S. The “No More Deaths, No Mas Muertes” website (not secure) will give you more detailed information.

EVENTS OF INTEREST: We do not have a good number of programs to list. However, we have attached a few important ones, and remind you to SAVE THE DATE of JUNE 20 – World Refugee Day for a BRSN celebration. Also, note an important healthcare event on May 29!

 BABY SHOWER: Our thanks to all of you who brought gifts or attended our baby shower for a couple here from Cuba – baby showers were a cultural surprise for them, and they were overwhelmed by your generosity. NOTE: See attachment of Aris’ thank you note/photograph!

ONE MORE REQUEST:  You have been so very generous with your time, your skills, and your donations. We always hate asking for more, but if you are able to drive an asylum seeker or citizenship seeker to Chicago or Indianapolis (and/or if you would be able to go along as an interpreter), it would be immensely appreciated. The other note regards donations. If you wish to make a donation, we are 501c3, so donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. But as mentioned, thank you so much for all that you already have contributed!

ATTACHMENTS: Events and Opportunities of InterestBaby Shower

Sending gratitude and wishing you a wonderful summer,
Diane Legomsky