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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.

ACLU ON ICE RAIDS:

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: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights

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 (www.pirclaw.org).

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: www.mccsc.edu/adulted 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: bloomingtonrpchurch.org 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 vital@mcpl.info 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):

https://migration.hemi.press/   a wonderful resource on migrants
https://migration.hemi.press/all-videos/#Ixtepec   interview material with Solalinde and others
https://migration.hemi.press/modules-2/  links to materials on a range of issues 
https://migration.hemi.press/addresources/  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