MFSA Monthly Meeting Thursday, March 1

The Rio Texas Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) will hold its March meeting one week earlier than usual.  Mark your calendars for the FIRST Thursday of the month, March 1.  Our program will feature speakers from Austin Sanctuary Network (ASN), a coalition of more than two dozen congregations and religious groups, three labor unions, several nonprofit groups and dozens of individual volunteers.  ASN helps provide shelter and protection for undocumented immigrants who are subject to deportation to their home countries.  Please join us for this timely discussion.

Saint John’s UMC, 2140 Allandale Road, with snacks and mingling at 6:30p and the program at 7p.  All are welcome!  Hope to see you there!

From Grassroots Leadership

Austin Advocates Call For Release Of Detained Migrant Woman

“Officials at Grassroots Leadership — an Austin-based national organization working against prison profiteering, mass incarceration and deportation — will ask Williamson County Commissioners Court members to intervene on behalf of an immigrant woman facing extreme hardship at a county detention center.

The group is acting on behalf of Laura Monterrosa, an asylum seeker from El Salvador being detained at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas, which in actuality is a detention center for immigrant women. Advocates say the woman’s mental and physical health continue to decline after she was driven to attempt suicide at the detention center in early January. Monterrosa has spent nearly nine months at the detention center where she previously spoke out about being sexually assaulted by a guard.

Since her outcry, the woman has been subjected to what Grassroots Leadership officials say is a pattern of retaliation — including being placed in solitary confinement for 60 hours earlier this month in what her advocates say was vengeance for her outcry.”

Actions this Weekend:

Sunday, (2/25) 3-5 PM, T. Don Hutto Detention Center: Laura remains under constant threat of solitary confinement and other forms of retaliation.  Sunday we’ll gather outside the detention center to visit with Laura in the largest mass visitation event yet!  Let’s protect Laura with our presence and show the growing support from her community to pressure ICE for her release.


Bring the Fight to Williamson County Commissioners

Tuesday, (2/27) 9 AM, Williamson County Commissioners Court: Last week we testified to County Commissioners asking them to take urgent action to intercede on Laura’s case or provide 90 day notice to pull out of the detention center contract.  As party to the contract with private prison company CoreCivic and ICE, Williamson County is liable for the many rights abuses that take place in Hutto: from sexual assault to labor violations.  Laura remains detained, so we will be back to communicate the urgency that Commissioners act immediately.

Events from Third Coast Activist


Date: March 3, 2018

Time: 2:00 pm  to  4:00 pm

Speakers will discuss the 2020 census, redistricting in 2021, and the Fair Maps for Texas coalition, which aims to ensure fair districts and representation. Panelists will include Stephanie Swanson, League of Women Voters; Michael Sarahan, Software Engineer; Anthony Gutierrez, Common Cause Texas; and moderator Mike Ignatowski.

The event is sponsored by Common Ground for Texans., a nonpartisan nonprofit based in Austin, Texas.

Location: Old Quarry Branch Library, 7051 Village Center, Austin


Date: March 5, 2018

Time: 7:00 pm  to  8:00 pm

University of Texas history professor Jacqueline Jones will discuss her new book, Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical. The book tells the story of the militant writer, orator, and agitator Lucy Parsons. Born to an enslaved woman in Virginia in 1851, she was raised in Texas, where she met her husband, the Haymarket martyr Albert Parsons. Lucy Parsons was a fearless advocate of First Amendment rights, a champion of the working classes, and one of the most prominent figures of African descent of her era. Her life also was riddled with contradictions—she advocated violence without apology, concocted a Hispanic-Indian identity for herself, and ignored the plight of African Americans.

Jones, who is chair of UT’s History Department and a former MacArthur Fellow, teaches courses in American history and is author of numerous other books, including A Dreadful Deceit: The Myth of Race from the Colonial Era to Obama’s America.

Location: BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin, 78703


Date: March 6, 2018

Time: 7:00 pm  to  9:00 pm

The film will be introduced by University of Texas professor Chelsi West Ohueri.

The screening is part of the “Faces of Migration” series presented by “Not Even Past,” Department of History, and Institute of Historical Studies.

Location: University of Texas at Austin campus, CLA 1.302B, Julius Glickman Conference Center (first floor, CLA Building). Paid parking in the Brazos Garage, 210 E. MLK Blvd.


Date: March 7, 2018

Time: 6:30 pm  to  8:30 pm

This panel focusing on how sexual assault and domestic violence affect immigrant communities is sponsored by Asian Family Support Services of Austin, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, United We Dream, Lone Star Victims Advocacy Project, and YWCA ATX. More information on the Facebook event page.

Location: St. Edward’s University, Carter Auditorium, Austin


Date: March 27, 2018

Time: 7:00 pm  to  9:00 pm

The film will be introduced by University of Texas professor Ward Keeler.

The screening is part of the “Faces of Migration” series presented by “Not Even Past,” Department of History, and Institute of Historical Studies.

Location: University of Texas at Austin campus, CLA 1.302B, Julius Glickman Conference Center (first floor, CLA Building). Paid parking in the Brazos Garage, 210 E. MLK Blvd.


Date: April 20, 2018

Time: 7:00 pm  to  10:00 pm

Singer-songwriter Carrie Newcomer will perform at a benefit concert for the Austin Sanctuary Network, a coalition of faith communities, immigrants, and other organizations that support immigrants fleeing violence or in danger of deportation.

The evening begins with a regional art show at 7 pm and the concert at 8 p.m. The Austin Sanctuary Network. Buy tickets online.

Location: St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, 14311 Wells Port Drive (exit off I-35, west on Wells Branch Parkway)

MFSA Monthly Meeting Thursday, February 8

The February meeting of the Rio Texas Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) will take place Thursday, February 8, at Saint John’s UMC, Austin.  The program will focus on the Austin Region Justice for Our Neighbors (ARJFON) effort, which is part of a national United Methodist network of legal clinics based in United Methodist churches around the country.  Our speaker will provide updates on JFON’s activities as they attempt to address immigration issues in an increasingly challenging social environment.

ARJFON, a non-profit law office, welcomes refugees and immigrants into our communities by providing free, high-quality immigration legal services, education, and advocacy.  ARJFON strives to empower immigrants bring about systematic change through active participation in our community.

Please join us to learn about this much-needed ministry.  Snacks and mingling begin at 6:30p; the program will start at 7p.  Hope to see you there!

MFSA Delegation Visits The Rio Grande Valley

On January 18 – 20, a group of 9 people from the Methodist Federation for Social Action in Austin went to the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) on an immigration education tour. Steve Hamlett, Kenneth Henry and Deana Henry are from Trinity Church Austin.  Anne Mund, Rowland Curry, Al Lindsay, Pat Stewart, Patsy Hickey, and Lyn Loeffler are members of Saint John’s UMC Austin.  Our guide for the tour was Susan Hellums, Border Area Mission Coordinator for the El Valle District from First UMC McAllen.

A more detailed description of our visit will soon be available on our website.

On Thursday, we attended a presentation in San Juan on the RGV Equal Voice Network, which has several components addressing the following issues:  health care, education, wages and jobs, housing, and transportation.  The housing initiative, Proyecto Azteca, was founded in 1991 by Cesar Chavez, is similar to “sweat equity” programs like Habitat for Humanity, and has 4,000 families on its waiting list.

Friday, we traveled to the Hidalgo County Park to view the Rio Grande River, Mexico, and portions of the border wall.  We then went to First UMC McAllen to hear a presentation on the Tamar’s Tapestry program by Tracy Hughes.  We were joined by Robert Lopez, Superintendent of the El Valle District.  Tamar’s Tapestry provides intervention, education, and restoration for victims of human trafficking in the RGV.  Data is horrifying; there are an estimated 79,000 persons in Texas that are victims of commercial sex trafficking.

After this presentation and lunch, we drove to San Benito to visit La Posada Providencia, a short-term shelter for immigrants and asylum seekers.  While it is a Catholic charity, La Posada receives help from the UMC in many ways.  Deaconess Cindy Johnson was our guide at La Posada as we visited with the Sisters and others.  We were introduced to a group of about a dozen immigrants from Central America, Cuba, Africa, and Eastern Europe.

Saturday morning, we toured the Humanitarian Respite Center, sponsored by the Catholic Charities RGV, where refugees in transit are provided with information, food, clothing, hygiene products, and other assistance before boarding a bus to join family, friends, or sponsors in other parts of the country.  Our group then volunteered to do a short service project, sorting donated clothing for the refugees.

Before heading back to Austin, we drove through a Colonia near Edinburgh to observe the conditions that we had heard about in several presentations.

This MFSA road trip was extremely enlightening and educational, and we hope it will guide us in pursuing further mission opportunities related to immigration.  Our plan is to present an in-depth report on this trip at a future meeting, most likely in April.

Justice For Our Neighbors Fundraiser

Stand with Us!

3rd Annual Benefit Dinner

Sat, November 11, 2017

6:30 PM – 9:30 PM

Asian American Resource Center

8401 Cameron Road

Austin, TX 78754

Austin Region Justice For Our Neighbors (JFON Austin) is a non-profit law office, welcoming refugees and immigrants into our communities by providing free, high-quality immigration legal services, education, and advocacy.

In the last year, JFON Austin provided twelve Know Your Rights Information sessions and over 80 individual immigration legal consultations. We also represented 110 refugees and immigrant clients in 140 cases. Our core programs offer consultations, emergency preparedness, and immigration legal representation to immigrants across Central Texas. JFON Austin aims to strengthen our individual representation of clients and our education to the immigrant community regarding steps to mitigate harm to their families in the event of raids, detention, or removal.

We invite you to experience how JFON Austin keeps immigrant families together. We hope that you will be able to join us for this event!

Notes From Third Coast Activist


Date: September 28, 2017

Time: 8:30 am  to  4:00 pm

Huston-Tillotson University will host the fourth annual Building Green Justice Forum, this year focusing on “Organic Activistology.” Presenters and participants will reflect on their roles as organic activists – thinkers and doers who reflect their community’s history, values, and knowledge and who engage to direct the community as leaders and organizers. This exploration includes an analysis of the broader frame of environmental justice work, including tensions, conflicts, power sources, intersectionalities, and motivations.

Keynote speaker will be Mustafa Santiago Ali, Senior Vice President of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization for the Hip Hop Caucus. In March 2017, Ali resigned his position as a top environmental justice administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency in protest of Trump administration policies. Ali worked at the EPA for more than two decades, starting in the administration of George H.W. Bush.

Other presentations and workshops will feature activists, community members, students, and researchers working on issues of environmental justice.

Registration and coffee begins at 8:30 am, with speakers, panels, and workshops throughout the day.

The forum—which is sponsored by Green is the New BlackThe Dumpster Project, and the Third Coast Activist Resource Center—is free but please register online.

For more information on sponsorship, contact Karen Magid,, or Amanda Masino,

Location: Dickey-Lawless Science Building, Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon St., Austin, 78702, with free parking in the Chalmers Avenue lot and free street parking around campus.


Date: October 19, 2017

Time: 5:30 pm  to  7:00 pm

Ai-jen Poo will discuss the role of immigrant women in the American care economy, featuring the stories and solutions of immigrant women for a more caring economy and democracy.

Poo is Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Co-director of Caring Across Generations. She also was a co-founder of Domestic Workers United and led a seven-year legislative campaign that resulted in the nation’s first Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights in New York City. Her 2015 book, The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in Changing America, outlines a road map to create a more caring nation, providing solutions for fixing our fraying safety net while also increasing opportunities for women, immigrants, and the unemployed.

The lecture, sponsored by the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, will be followed by a reception. Free registration and more information online.

 Location: Eidman Courtroom, University of Texas School of Law, 727 E Dean Keeton St., Austin, 78705