The recent announcement of President Obama’s executive action on immigration came just in time for the 7th Annual National Immigrant Integration Conference, co-sponsored by Liberty Hill, and co-hosed by Liberty Hill grantee Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHILRA) and National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA).
The announcement was welcomed by groups working on immigration reform, but also drew calls for a more comprehensive solution. In short, the order entails a series of administrative changes in rules and refocuses enforcement priorities and prosecutorial discretion. The changes will allow about five million undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S.
The National Immigrant Integration Conference took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center earlier this month with a vision of achieving a vibrant, just and welcoming democracy for all. Organizers remind us all that the success of our democracy is rooted in an ongoing commitment to welcoming and integrating newcomers into the U.S. The NIIC gave participants from all over the country an opportunity to exchange ideas, share best practices, establish partnership and celebrate the energy that drives the work.
According to Liberty Hill’s Deputy Director of Grantmaking, Margarita Ramirez, the program included a number of stimulating plenary sessions and more than 40 workshops around citizenship, the economy, education, media, arts and culture, migration, receiving communities, rights and freedom, and workforce development. The program was finalized before President Obama’s Executive Order but conference organizers were galvanized by the announcement to quickly pull together an additional 16 sessions focused on "Implementing Administrative Relief" that were added to the schedule.
People from at least 28 states across the country gathered here in L.A. and took the timely opportunity to work through implications of the executive action. Discussions included how efforts to implement the executive order can be coordinated through legal support, advanced technology, service delivery models, partnering with consulates, cities, and other institutions. There was information about regional coordination, and conversations about strategies for local and national fundraising. But more importantly, conference sessions also pointed to significant issues that intersect with immigrant integration – racism, homophobia, poverty and a dismal public discourse about basic human rights.
L.A. and Orange Counties have the highest density of likely applicants of any counties in the country (12% of the national totals) so the demand will be very high here. According to Margarita, there is much to work through, but there appears to be a very deep infrastructure, unlike anything we've seen in the past. The National Partnership for New Americans , Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) and Center for Community Change (CCC), are at the helm of this infrastructure. It represents a tight-knit group of 30 multi-ethnic immigrant organizations, coalitions, organizing networks, and national support organizations in 28 states, with both local power and national reach. The leadership and vision of these entities are very sharp and its breadth of approach quite multi-layered.
To learn more about the National Immigrant Integration Conference, check out the website.