A workshop at Northwest State Community College attended by Jill Palmer of Defiance, that featured a presentation on immigration from Department of Justice (DOJ) accredited representatives from Project Hope in Archbold, was both enlightening and thought-provoking for the former educator.

With immigration being such a hot topic of conversation in the United States, Palmer realized that now would be a great time to educate people on the subject. With the help of friend Cindy Shaffer, the two reached out to Sr. Ellen Lamberjack of Project Hope to organize Immigration 101, which will be held March 26 at 7 p.m. at Grace Episcopal Church, located at 308 W. Second St. in Defiance.

“A few years ago, I went to an all-day workshop on immigration at Northwest State (Community College) that was very informative,” said Palmer, who attends Grace Episcopal with Shaffer. “There was so much good information, that I thought it needed to be shared with other people. I talked with Cindy, and she thought it was a great idea, too. We decided that the information needed to be shared with the community and not just with the people of our church.

“Sr. Ellen and Sr. Andrea (Inkrott of Project Hope) spoke at the workshop that day, so I reached out to Sr. Ellen about coming here to speak,” added Palmer. “This event is all about Sr. Ellen presenting information about immigration and letting people make an informed decision. Too often with all the rhetoric going on right now, people don’t really get to know the whole story.”

Lamberjack, who belongs to the Sisters of St. Francis in Tiffin, is the founder and director of Project Hope, which provides legal services for immigrants in northwest Ohio and beyond. The organization provides many services and programs, such as: helping with applications for legal permanent residency, application for naturalization and petitioning for a relative, while also offering classes and tutoring in preparation for citizenship, to name a few.

During her career, Lamberjack visited with Sisters of St. Francis in Chiapas, Mexico, visited with Sisters of St. Clare in Guatemala and El Salvador, and from 1991-98 Lamberjack worked in the Rio Grande Valley along the Texas-Mexico border. From 1998-2006 Lamberjack worked on the leadership team as a liaison that declared sanctuary for people fleeing Central America.

When her term was up in 2006, Lamberjack knew at that time that she wanted to work in helping immigrants. Before she knew it, and with the help of many, Project Hope had an office at Zion Mennonite Church in Archbold by late 1996, and she began work on becoming a DOJ accredited representative.

“To be able to practice as a representative, you need to be recognized by the Department of Justice, so we had to earn accreditation,” said Lamberjack. “There are two kinds of accreditation, partial and full. Both Sr. Andrea and I have earned partial accreditation, which means we can represent immigrants before the Department of Homeland Security, but we can’t represent immigrants in court (at Cleveland).”

Topics that will be covered by Lamberjack during Immigration 101 at Grace Episcopal include:

• Why do people migrate?

• What’s the difference between a non-immigrant, immigrant, refugee, asylee, legal permanent resident and a U.S. citizen.?

• What’s required to become a legal permanent resident?

• How long does it take to become a U.S. citizen?

“I’m looking forward to educating people who really want to understand the system,” said Lamberjack. “There are many reasons why people have come to the United States over the years, and that’s where I’m going to start. It’s my hope that people get a greater understanding of this topic, and I’m looking forward to answering any questions people have at the end of the presentation.”

Extra parking for Immigration 101 will be available on the east side of the Family Video parking lot on Second St., and light refreshments will be served.

Mary Beth Snider, who serves as Senior Warden of Grace Episcopal, also is looking forward to Lamberjack’s presentation.

“I am very happy that we are hosting this event for the public, because with all the talk going on about immigration, this is a great opportunity to learn more about it,” said Snider. “So many people come to the United States because they want a better life, which is really the reason we’re here today, because our ancestors wanted a better life, too. I know this will be very informative.”

For more information about Immigration 101, contact Palmer at 419-762-5781.

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