Parish center goes to bat for immigrants
By ARTHUR JONES
The Border, the parish immigrant center run by Franciscan Fr. Brian Jordan, got started last September with advertisements in the citys ethnic newspapers and through news conferences and television appearances. Said Jordan, I tell [immigrants] who I am, that the center is free and confidential, that theyre being ripped off by unscrupulous immigration lawyers. I tell them success stories. After that its word of mouth.
And busy. Jordan, who raises money doing sponsored marathon runs goes to bat for clients at the Immigration and Nationalization Service, helps some adjust their status to obtain green cards and appeals for volunteers in the parish bulletin.
Hes got 22 volunteers who speak nine languages, from Mandarin to Swahili, from Tagalog to Polish.
Hes a tough negotiator. After Salvadoran dishwasher, Huberto Hernandez, 40, was kicked to death in Washington last year, Jordan was quickly with the family. He persuaded TACA airlines to fly him to San Salvador and fly Hernandezs parents up to the funeral for free -- and simultaneously persuaded the State Department to hurry up the visas. While in San Salvador Jordan prayed with Hernandezs widow and four children and gave her a check for $3,000 sent by the Washington area Salvadoran community.
Jordan is working with U.S. unions formulating job-training programs for immigrants. New Yorks Pakistani limousine drivers trying to form a union have asked him to be their chaplain.
Theyre Muslims and theyre asking me, said Jordan, in amazement, a priest who in his Franciscan habit has inserted himself into some tough New York City ethnic confrontations.
Is he ever afraid?
Yes, he said. When the provincial calls me into his office.
National Catholic Reporter, June 16, 2000