Archive for the ‘Immigrant Civic Inclusion’ Category

African community forum on immigration reform: May 7 in Bronx, NY

April 29, 2013 Comments off

On May 7 in Bronx, NY, community groups from across the city will be gathering to discuss immigration reform and its impact on the African community. In addition to the community discussion, there will also be an opportunity for health screenings and legal assistance. Check out the flier below for more information.

When: Tuesday, May 7 at 5:00pm (sign up for screenings and register at 4:30pm)

Where: Bronx Community College, Colston Hall lower level, 2155 University Ave (at 181st Street)

Host organizations include Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, African Communities Together, Bronx Community College, United African Congress, African Services Committee, and the National Council of Ghanaian Organizations.

  • Hear from experts about changes in immigration law.
  • Talk about issues with your fellow African immigrants.
  • Find out if you qualify for the “Deferred Action” program, which provides work authorization and deportation relief.
  • Get FREE immigration screenings and referrals from nonprofit immigration attorneys.
  • Get FREE health screenings and referrals, including testing for hepatitis, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Related: From last week, a woman from Africa talks about her experiences being undocumented on BET.

Stream or download the Democracy Exchange on immigration reform and civic engagement

April 16, 2013 Comments off

immigration usaWe want to send out a huge thank you to all who participated in our Democracy Exchange yesterday, particularly our invited guests, Oscar Chacon of NALACC, Opal Tometi of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Erin Oshiro of the Asian American Justice Center, and Susan Downs-Karkos of Welcoming America. We’d also like to thank those who asked questions on the call for providing their own insight and helping us dive deeper into the ways immigration reform can be used as a civic engagement tool.

Miss the call? Stream or download yesterday’s Democracy Exchange here.

Here are links to the organizations who participated on the call:

Image via Fight for Philly

Reminder: Democracy Exchange on Immigration Reform & Civic Engagement is TODAY!

April 15, 2013 Comments off

we-are-human-girl-english1-500x666TODAY our next Democracy Exchange will focus on immigration reform and civic engagement. Join us at 2pm for what will surely be a great discussion with Oscar Chacon of NALACC (National Association of Latin American and Caribbean Communities), Opal Tometi of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Erin Oshiro of the Asian American Justice Center, and Susan Downs-Karkos of Welcoming America.

It’s not too late to sign up! Please sign up here to get the dial-in number.

Contact me ( if there are any questions.

Follow along and join in on Twitter as well, using the hashtag #DemEx. We look forward to a great discussion!

Here is some additional info from the participating folks:

Sign up: Democracy Exchange on immigration reform and civic engagement

April 11, 2013 Comments off

immigration rally photo

In our last couple of posts on this blog we’ve been focusing on immigration reform and tying it to democracy as a whole. Today, thousands of people mobilized and descended upon Washington, D.C. to make their voices heard and tell Congress that immigration reform is needed right now. Reports out of Washington say that Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would like to schedule a hearing on April 17 to discuss immigration reform, and hopefully, have a bill drafted by that time.

Until then, conversations about immigration will be going on across the country, including right here with the Campaign.

On Monday, April 15 the next Democracy Exchange will focus on immigration reform and civic engagement. Join us at 2pm for what will surely be a great discussion with Oscar Chacon of NALACC (National Association of Latin American and Caribbean Communities), Opal Tometi of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Erin Oshiro of the Asian American Justice Center, and Susan Downs-Karkos of Welcoming America.

Please join in and sign up for the call here.

Contact me ( if there are any questions. We look forward to a great discussion!

Image via the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Facebook page

Check out our April newsletter and sign up for the next Democracy Exchange on 4/15

April 9, 2013 Comments off

CSD logo mediumImmigration reform will be taking center stage this month, with Senators inching closer to an agreement (we might even see a bill drafted soon). Any proposal would garner a significant number of questions — How will different communities be impacted? How will our current immigration system change? Will families be left out? What opportunities will the public have to weigh in on the bill? What will immigration reform mean for racial justice? What will it mean for our democracy?

Join us on Monday, April 15 at 2:00pm ET as we explore these questions, and others, on our next Democracy Exchange. We have an amazing group of guests, including Oscar Chacon of NALACC, Opal Tometi of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Erin Oshiro of the Asian American Justice Center, and Susan Downs-Karkos of Welcoming America, with whom we will be discussing immigration reform, civic engagement, and its impact on diverse communities.

Please sign up for the call hereWe’re really excited about this conversation and hope you can join us.

The rest of this month’s democracy updates are below the fold.

Thank you for reading, as always.
Executive Director

Read more…

Immigration: A Democracy Issue

April 5, 2013 1 comment

may day march“This is what democracy looks like!”

So spoke one of the hosts of a gathering of African Diasporan immigrants on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. last week. Participants gathered from near and far to raise their voices and be heard. Representatives from the halls of Congress came too, heard, and, of course, spoke. Not surprisingly, they encouraged the gathering to continue to raise their voices and remind legislators of their identity and their issues.

Two lessons about democracy arise. First, government does not do well without good and constant communication with its citizenry. That communication comes in many shapes and sizes, and while ideally it should be two-way, it often is not. This is somewhat problematic: One-way communication falls far short of guaranteeing understanding, and even farther short of producing agreement or consensus.

Worse, it often does not feel successful as communication, and many organizations spend lots of time trying to figure out how to be heard. In a nation of 300 million, getting heard is no easy task. I felt a sense of pride that hundreds of folks got themselves organized to make a loud statement outside, and then head indoors for more communication. As we Americans like to say, this is indeed what democracy looks like.

The second lesson is that many of those gathered a week ago are not, in fact, citizens. They may have visas or not. They may have work permits or not. They may not even want to be citizens, for a variety of good and fine reasons. In spite of all that, they felt compelled and privileged to communicate with the government about their issues and concerns. One does not have to look far to find many citizens discouraged about government and reluctant to put some travelling boots on and head to Washington to speak their minds. So, kudos to the immigrant community for lifting their voices, and kudos to our society for creating and safeguarding the space for their voices.

Legislative immigration reform is a complicated set of democracy issues, including the courts, prisons, police, and laws, and an array of social and cultural attitudes and ideas about citizenship and nationhood, not all friendly and fuzzy as the inscription on Miss Liberty in New York harbor. But if voice is not something that we deny any inside our borders, then fixing immigration should ensure that voice, free from intimidation, free from fear of deportation, free from repercussion. We need the voices of all people in the formulation of law and the management of our nation’s assets. Police chiefs around the country have made this case: people who fear deportation are unlikely to report crime or to cooperate with the police. Immigrants living in the shadows are likely to become victims of economic exploitation and theft of their wages. Law and order breaks down without their voices, while human and social service systems don’t function well without.

Our decennial census counts everyone, citizens and residents, for good cause. To the extent that government sees the well-being of the nation, knowing who we are is important and vital. Immigration reform is not just the interest of immigrants, past and future. It is the interest of democracy. All have voice. And we like it that way.


**This particular group comprised Africans and Caribbean immigrants, making the case that not all immigrants came into the country illegally

*** Image via Wikimedia Commons

Include everyone in conversation on immigration reform

January 28, 2013 Comments off

we-are-human-girl-english1-500x666Immigration reform is the top news item of the week – a bi-partisan group of Senators released their framework for a comprehensive immigration reform plan, while President Obama is expected to release his own ideas later this week.

Certainly this isn’t anywhere near a perfect proposal (though few pieces of legislation ever are), but just because this proposal is bi-partisan does not mean it is ideal, particularly in terms of the people who it would impact the most.

Let’s make sure that we have a robust debate on immigration reform. We are dealing with a proposal written exclusively by citizens (as with a piece of legislation focusing on women’s health being written entirely by men, for example), and we must be intentional about listening to the voices of people who are undocumented. Additionally, we must bring forward the voices of same-sex couples who have gotten left out of the current framework. As we talked about last week, debate is important and structures aren’t always provided to do it well.

It’s a challenge to us as well — we must make sure that we do our part in amplifying their voices; voices which seem to be stifled in this debate. This is a big one, so let’s talk – and bring everyone to the table.

Read more on the Senate’s immigration reform proposal:

TPM: Gang of 8’s path to citizenship is still a rocky road

Mother Jones: The Senate Immigration Plan Isn’t Terrible – It’s Just Unworkable

Roll Call: Broad Coalition Prods Congress to Pass Immigration Overhaul

Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights: Bipartisan Senate Framework Offers Good Start on Immigration Reform

Huffington Post: Bipartisan Sponsors Claim Momentum for Uphill Battle

National Council of La Raza: NCLR hails bipartisan Senate group blueprint for immigration reform

Latino Rebels: Immigration Groups Respond to Senators’ Bipartisan Reform Principles

Asian American Justice Center: AAJC applauds Senate action on immigration reform and urges continued bipartisan solutions on family reunification

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus: CAPAC reacts to Senate bipartisan plan for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

NPR: In New Immigration Plan, A Fraught Phrase Is Mostly Sidelined


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