Urgent Action for Immigrants & Refugees

December 10, 2019
By Avi Rose

In the next several weeks, there are two critical ways that you can help protect immigrants and refugees in our community.

Submit a Public Comment about Fees Being Imposed on Immigrants

The Trump administration recently proposed new rules that are meant to deter those who have the legal right to become citizens, apply for DACA, or receive a green card, by drastically increasing the fees paid to the government.

The fee to submit a citizenship application would increase by 83 percent, from $640 to $1,170. Green card fees would increase by 79 percent, from $1,225 to $2,195. DACA fees would increase by 55 percent, from $495 to $695. And, for the first time in U.S. history, a new $50 fee would be imposed on people applying for asylum, who come to our border seeking safety and refuge.

The vast majority of the immigrants served in our Immigration Legal Services program are low-income; indeed, many of them qualify for fee waivers, which the administration is also attempting to make more difficult to obtain. All of these changes are designed to put legal immigration remedies out of reach for many trying to advance on the pathway toward citizenship.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is required to accept public comments about these proposed rule changes. Please join JFCS East Bay and submit a comment opposing these unjust fees. Comments need to be submitted by December 30. The more comments received, the longer it will take USCIS to finalize the changes. However long that delay lasts, we will be able to continue filing applications for our immigrant clients at the current fee levels.

Please click here to use our interfaith partner Catholic Legal Immigration Network’s tool to add your voice to the public record. The more you personalize your message, the better.


Encourage the Board of Supervisors to Commit to Welcoming Refugees

The Trump administration has recently issued an executive order that requires all states and counties to officially “opt in” to allow refugees to resettle in their communities. JFCS East Bay has taken the lead in urging the Alameda and Contra Costa Boards of Supervisors to continue welcoming refugees in the East Bay. If our counties do not take action to opt-in, refugees would no longer be allowed to resettle here.

This executive order is already being challenged in the courts. However, in the meantime, counties need to comply. We have every indication that our counties are supportive, but our Supervisors need to see our community standing up together to clearly communicate that we welcome refugees.

Please join us at the Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, December 17, 2019 and the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, January 7, 2020. Not everyone in attendance will be able to speak, but a strong show of support is important and impactful. Following are the details about locations and times:

Alameda County
Tuesday, December 17, 2019 at 10:45am
1221 Oak Street, 5th Floor

Contra Costa County
Tuesday, January 7, 2020 at 9:30am
651 Pine Street, Room 107

Please allow yourself ample time to find parking and make your way through security.

Please let us know if you are planning to attend by filling out this RSVP form. Meeting agendas sometimes shift and we want to be able to let you know if the date changes.


Immigrant Stories: Then & Now

Drawing on our own history and heeding the call to Welcome the Stranger, JFCS East Bay is determined to serve and advocate for this generation of refugees and immigrants, as we did for Jewish refugees arriving in the United States decades ago.

Honoring the parallels between those stories and today’s, long-time JFCS East Bay board member Rachel Biale shares these words:

“They had finally reached the gates of the land of their dreams. It had been a week since they’d run out of food, except for hard biscuits covered by green mold. They had scraped the bread as best they could with brushes and fingernails and ate every last morsel. After two weeks of rationing water to one cup per day, three days prior, they had finally run out.

“The perilous journey had taken months, but they counted themselves incredibly lucky. They had escaped with their lives. They had left their families behind: parents too old to attempt the journey, a brother too young. They’d had no choice.

“‘They’ were my parents, Anina and Kurt, ages eighteen and nineteen. The time was November 1940; the place, British-controlled Palestine. Together with their Zionist youth movement comrades, my parents had escaped from German-occupied Prague, fleeing just before others were trampled by the Nazi boot and, later, murdered.

“But now the British authorities at the gate made it clear that without the requisite papers, my parents would not be allowed in. They were turned away, deported to Mauritius, a remote island in the Indian Ocean, there to languish for years in a prison camp waiting for their fate to be determined. In 1942, my father managed to enter Palestine by volunteering to serve in the British Army. My mother and about 1,300 other refugees were finally allowed in after the war, in August 1945.

“Today I think of my parents as I see the immigrants on our doorstep. Running for their lives: from civil war, Taliban attacks, gang violence, persecution and prosecution, as out or outed members of the LGBTQ underground community in African and Middle Eastern countries. They walk in my parents’ footsteps.”