The Feed

The Moyo blog features diverse voices and perspectives related to our topics.

Justice for the Most Vulnerable

Posted November 3, 2015

Today on The Feed, we hear from Lynda Jones, a judge in Metropolitan Nashville and supporter of Justice for Our Neighbors - Tennessee, an organization that provides legal services to low income immigrants and families. Jones shows us that immigrant families are some the most vulnerable populations and they need advocacy to achieve justice and the American Dream.

 

By Lynda Jones

Jesus was divisive in his day. In criticizing the arrogance of religious leaders and socializing with sinners and the poor, he was leading a small but extraordinary movement.
 

In today’s world, there’s no shortage of movements. They begin as miniature revolutions and end as petitions on whitehouse.gov. We live in a well-connected society that seeks to use those connections to start movements for finance reform, nuclear non-proliferation, and much more. Name a cause, and at least 1,000 people in America support it. But if we cut through the hype generated by professional media consultants and perpetuated by social media, are any of these movements extraordinary? Put a different way, do any of these movements seek such dramatic changes that they will last 2,000 years later?
 

Thanks to a certain presidential candidate undocumented immigration is a campaign issue already. Anti-immigrant rhetoric has been used for the isolationist movement for all of America’s short history. But all of the resentment and the billions of dollars spent attacking immigrants undermine the American Dream, and that is why attacking immigrants and limiting the legal paths to citizenship is destined to fail.
 

But all of the resentment and the billions of dollars spent attacking immigrants undermine the American Dream, and that is why attacking immigrants and limiting the legal paths to citizenship is destined to fail.


Immigrants are particularly vulnerable in our country, even in Tennessee. Some don't speak English. They are separated from friends and family. They don't know all of our laws and, as any good lawyer will tell you, "Ignorantia juris non excusat" - Ignorance of the law is no excuse.
 

Undocumented immigrants represent an even more vulnerable and oppressed subgroup. According to a report by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, The Geography of Trafficking in Tennessee 2013, child immigrants and adult immigrants are at the greatest risk of being victims of trafficking. Without legal status, they live in the shadows. Helpless children are exploited. A corrupt employer can exploit them. Hundreds if not thousands of hard working men and women labor and then do not receive payment for their work. An abusive spouse can beat and rape them. An assailant can rob them at gunpoint. And all of these crimes could go unreported, because undocumented immigrants are, to some, the biggest problem in America.
 

If we are to pass meaningful immigration reform in Congress, if we are to start a movement that lasts to benefit future generations, then we must consider how we welcome immigrants to Tennessee. Immigrants often bring families.


If we are to pass meaningful immigration reform in Congress, if we are to start a movement that lasts to benefit future generations, then we must consider how we welcome immigrants to Tennessee. Immigrants often bring families. These are families who pull together and pool their resources. They personify the dreams that our Irish forefathers brought to Elis Island in the 1800’s. Tennessee Justice for Our Neighbors, a non-profit serving the legal needs of undocumented immigrants, helped over 100 victims of trafficking, extortion, assault and other forms of violence so far in 2015.
 

Undocumented immigrants need an advocate in order to achieve their American Dream. Our nation is much stronger when we strengthen and lift up the most vulnerable among us. Jesus demonstrated support for marginalized people, and he started a faith that transformed society. In order for us to continue following Christ, we must recognize the strangers in our midst – the undocumented persons who are leading us towards a more just society.
 

In order for us to continue following Christ, we must recognize the strangers in our midst – the undocumented persons who are leading us towards a more just society.

 

 

Lynda Jones is a Judge in Metropolitan Nashville – Davidson County General Sessions Court. She was elected to the bench on August 7, 2014. She practiced law for 22 years in Middle Tennessee.​ 

To support the work of JFON - Tennessee, you can visit their website.


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