Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Organization Spotlight: ISAAC

Note: (Again) To get ourselves rolling here I thought I would post a couple of thing all at once. Feel free to follow or check back later for more! Scroll down to see the first two posts: a welcome post and an audio resource. 

ISAAC is one of my favorite places to send people for information on immigration (specifically immigration in Texas).

ISAAC, or Immigration Service and Aid Center, is (according to their website) a collaborative ministry between Baptist University of the Américas and the Baptist General Convention of Texas that focuses on equipping churches and other organizations to engage the immigrant community along a continuum of ministry options.

The continuum involves quite a few things. There are the regular offerings, such as support for churches and organizations wanting to set up ESL, literacy and citizenship classes. ISAAC has also placed an emphasis on the legal issues surrounding immigration. They are helping churches become accredited to help immigrants wade through the muddy waters of the legal process. Because, if you didn't know it, the legal process is complicated. And expensive. And, often times, involves people out to scam immigrants.

 Again from their website,

There is a dire need for quality immigration counseling and service at an affordable price.  Far too many immigrants have been scammed by “notarios” and immigration consultants who prey on their lack of familiarity with the legal system.  For others, the cost of an immigration attorney keeps effective legal counsel out of reach.  In response, the Federal Government has allowed non-profit organizations, such as churches, to become “recognized organizations.”  To become a recognized organization, the church will have to undertake a rigorous application process and must have “accredited” representatives.   ISAAC provides technical application assistance and trains church representatives.  The application process takes approximately 1 year and there are some costs involved, but the results are outstanding.  ISAAC has helped two Texas Baptist groups become “recognized” in the past year and a half.  These groups have aided immigrants to become citizens, processed paperwork for visas, and, in some cases, even helped undocumented aliens to remain legally in the United States. 

ISAAC's model attacks the problem from a different angle than most organizations, and I really like that.

Finally, ISAAC attempts to educate churches and the public on immigration. Their goal is to provide "unbiased immigration information from a Christian perspective," to help "separate the wheat from the chaff." I really appreciate that.

I frequently send people here to brush up on their facts when they get a little lost in all the rhetoric thrown around on the news...or in certain cases print off ISAAC's information, highlight and tab the sections and refuse to speak on the matter until they have read the facts (Hi, Dad!).

They have lots of resources (in both English and Spanish) and ISAAC has worked to present the issue in a variety of manners: through photos, personal stories, statistics, theology, etc.

So, are you wondering how much immigrants cost the state of Texas each year? (You'll be surprised!) Are you wanting to set up a ministry to immigrants at your church? Are you curious about the complications of the legal process? Give ISAAC a look. It's a great resource and, in my case at least, they even return emails.

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