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Becoming Americans

2010
National
Immigrant
Integration
Conference
September 29 - October 1, 2010
Boston, Massachusetts

Summary Report
2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

Sponsors of
of the 2010 National
the 2010 National Immigrant
Immigrant Integration
Integration Conference
Conference

Four Freedoms

Fish
Fish Family
Family
Suzette
Suzette Brooks
Brooks
David
David and
and Susanna
Susanna

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2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary Report

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference


Summary Report
Plenary Highlights and Breakout Sessions Summaries

Table of Contents

Forward! ! 4! !
Opening Program/Planaries! ! 5! !
Promoting Naturalization: The Way Forward! ! 8! !
NIIC Opening Remarks 11! !
Paul Grogan: The Boston Foundation! ! 12! !
Becoming Americans 12! !
!!!
Session Summaries!!!!!
Immigrant Civic Leadership 14
Receiving Communities 17
Professional Re-credentialing 19
Current Research 20
State Initiatives Strategy Session 22
The New American Vote 24
Adult Education Transitions 26
Early Education and Families 28
Expanding Adult ESOL 30
Fundraising Initiatives 31
Financial Access 32
Public Safety 35
Public Schools 37
Urban Revitalization 39
Comprehensive Immigration Reform 41
Immigrant Entrepreneurship 42

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2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

2010 National Immigrant


Integration Conference
Dear Friends,

The second annual National Immigrant Integration Conference held in Boston brought
together 450 stakeholders over three days. We are deeply encouraged by the diverse
group of social service practitioners, educators, researchers, advocates and government
officials to advance immigrant integration as a national agenda.

From witnessing new citizens taking their first oaths, to the depth and range of topics
explored, this conference has successfully demonstrated the vital and rewarding work
of integrating the foreign-born. We hope the information gathered in these pages, and
the working relationships that began or renewed at the conference will sustain the
momentum of work of integration.

Our theme of Becoming Americans highlighted many innovative programs in funding,


expanding, and accelerating the naturalization process – from increased outreach and
grants from the USCIS Office of Citizenship, to financial literacy and saving-matching
programs, to municipal citizenship curriculum. The conference also examined the
journey of an immigrant’s life leading up that moment and beyond, such as maintaining
bilingualism in immigrant youth or learning English as adults, succeeding in school and
college, starting a business, raising a family, owning a home, voting, and defending
their rights, and enlivening neighborhoods, cities and states,. In short, renewing the
American Dream and revitalizing the American democratic experiment.

Let us continue to work together to broaden and advance immigrant integration. Thank
you to all our participants.

Sincerely,

Eva A. Millona
Co-Chair, National Immigrant Integration Conference
Executive Director
Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition

Westy Egmont
Westy Egmont
Co-Chair, National Immigrant Integration Conference
President
Association of New Americans

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[ Opening Program
The conference began with an inspiring naturalization ceremony
as reminder and encouragement for the end results which many of
the participants work toward day in and day out. Thirty New
Americans were sworn in, representing fourteen countries of
origin. Mr. Thorman, of the John S. and James L. Knight
Foundation, spoke of the importance of citizenship and the
foundation’s deep interest in promoting naturalization. Eva
Millona, from MIRA Coalition, the conference host, provided a
welcoming address and context for the conference. Rep. Marie
St. Fleur, the first Haitian-American elected to the Massachusetts
State House, addressed the new citizens and NIIC attendees on
the rich history of Boston as an immigrant-receiving city. Paul
Grogan, represented the Boston Foundation, one of the first
community foundations of its kind, which has dedicated millions
of educational and social programs dedicated to help immigrants
integrate in New England. Grogan said our nation must, especially in
economically anxious times, overcome ambivalence about immigrants and recognize the contribution of immigrants to the
local economy and the renewal of opportunities and dreams.

Plenary 1: Immigrants & the Economy

Moderated by Harvard Professor Edward Schumacher Matos, the panel addressed the role of immigrants in economic
growth, from rejuvenating food and service industries and the labor movement, to small business ownership and transition
into middle-skilled work.

Michael Fix of the Migration Policy Institute reexamined the hourglass economy of immigrant labor, which has been the
conventional view of the concentration of immigrant labor in high-skill and low-skill sectors. Fix showed the increase and
positive implications of immigrants spanning across middle-skilled jobs in IT, construction, hospitality and health care. Fix
expects to see continued challenges in meeting the needs of LEPs to gain middle-skilled employment. He proposes the
reformation of our re-credentialing, community and adult education, and employment-based visa policies.

Esther Lopez of United Food & Commercial Workers International gave a moving account of the contribution of immigrants
in our food and hospitality industries. “They pick our vegetables, serve our meals, and clean our offices and hotels” said
Lopez. Lopez sees the labor movement being stalwart in protecting immigrant rights, demanding fair wages and safe
conditions, and advocating for comprehensive immigration reform.

Kevin McCarthy of the Dunkin’ Donuts Franchise highlighted the remarkable ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit of
immigrants who have reinvigorated the Dunkin’ Donuts brand and franchise – opening more than have of all stores,
launching new products, and creating jobs for other immigrants and natives alike.

Governor Deval Patrick addressed NIIC, highlighting that Massachusetts is a state where immigrants make up 14% of its
population, and 17% of its workforce. Governor Patrick emphasized the importance of having strong state leadership in
immigrant integration, because it happens in the state and local level. He denounced Arizona’s SB1070 as discriminatory
and bad for economic development. He vowed to protect immigrant rights, increase English learning and workforce
development programs, and improve the relationship between local law enforcement and the immigrant community.

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Plenary 2: Immigrants and Democracy

This session aimed to revolutionize the concept of naturalization, recognizing that it is not an isolated event but one step
on the road to full civic engagement. Three panelists contributed government and private sector perspectives on current
trends in immigrant civic engagement. A representative from USCIS discussed the new, forward-thinking initiatives being
advanced by the office in the upcoming year. She identified that USCIS is, primarily, an agency that processes and
adjudicates immigrant benefits, but their work also plays a significant role in immigrant integration, for successful
immigration policy is needed to get successful integration practices. USCIS’ mission is to promote a respect-based
welcoming environment within the United States and they are attempting to implement this by streamlining the
naturalization processes, making them more understandable, accessible and approachable.
Rosalind Gold, Senior Director at the NALEO Education Fund, specifically called attention to the power in the Latino-
American vote. She spoke of the private sector’s push, not only toward citizenship
services, but also toward non-partisan voter registration and participation. She called
attention to the influence of the Latino vote, that immigrants’ voter turn-out is making
a marked difference in deciding toss-up races.

Furthermore, Ms. Gold noted that a recent study demonstrated that immigrant issues
affect, and will continue to effect, elections. The study showed that voters placed
immigration policy as one of foremost issues of importance in deciding on how to
vote for a candidate. With such a powerful, election changing demographic
mobilized to vote it will become possible to promote change in election results cross-
nationally.

Felicia Escobar, Senior Policy Advisor on Immigration in the White House Domestic
Policy Council, articulated the desire of the federal government to be more strategic in
their service delivery models. Escobar notes that the federal government is interested
in redefining their role in immigrant integration; an inter-agency task force has been created to identify pathways to
successful immigrant integration and civic engagement.

All three illustrated the need to begin the dialogue on the importance of immigrant civic engagement and participation in
democracy early, even before the naturalization process begins. By doing so, immigrants can begin to influence the
policies that directly affect their daily lives, regardless of status. A recent USCIS study found the biggest factor for increased
naturalization applications is the desire to create a sense of belonging in the US. We, then, should act now to mobilize
immigrants to actively participate in this democracy.

Plenary 3: Immigrants and Host Communities

This powerful plenary session discussed the specific importance of recognizing new citizens’ role in revitalizing US
democracy and renewing our civic values. Moderated by former Massachusetts’ Governor Michael Dukakis, the session
highlighted the work and experience of three advocates, academics and practitioners in the US immigrant community, at
large.

Richard Herman, co-author of Immigrant, Inc—a book identifying immigrants as a driving force behind the revitalization of
the US-economy—began the session with an introduction to the immigrant’s contribution to urban renewal. He discussed
the importance of changing the cultural dialogue surrounding immigrant involvement in the economy, especially
considering that foreign-born individuals founded 50% of new companies of Silicon Valley, and statistics indicate that
immigrants are two times more likely to establish a company than the US-born general population. Through his book, he is
attempting to influence positive discourse regarding the significant human capital found within the foreign-born
population.

Following Herman, Robert Putnam, of Harvard University, furnished an academic perspective framing current immigration
issues and challenges that lie ahead, encouraging the reevaluation of perceptions on migration, utilizing honest discussion
and forward thinking narratives. Specifically, he introduced two truths, identified their implications and offered a possible
resolution to their subsistence. The observed realities Putnam addressed were, first, that immigration disrupts social
connections for both the immigrant and the host community and, then, that these dithering associations were not of little
significance. He focused on the need to create avenues to re-weave the social fabric of our communities to maximize the
economic, educational, plus general ‘quality of life’ benefits of a multi-cultural society by creating culturally bonding and
bridging social capital connections.

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Finally, Senator Mee Moua of Minnesota offered a personal account of the power of new citizens’ civic engagement and
leadership on revitalizing US democratic institutions. She described her experience as a young political refugee in the
post-Vietnam United States. A victim of misplaced anti-Vietnam war sentiment, Moua derived strength from her family,
community and focused on obtaining higher education and becoming politically active. In 2001, Moua ran for a vacant
Senate seat in Minnesota. With no intention of winning, Moua organized her campaign around the mobilization of the
disadvantaged, disenfranchised and distanced new voters who were fighting for political significance in the US. Her
remarkable mobilization efforts, however, did secure her victory. This success marked a turning point for Southeast Asians
and the larger immigrant community in the US, proffering an opportunity for US-born individuals to recognize immigrants
for their contribution to the US and politics at-large.

Plenary 4: Immigrants & Justice

Richard Chacon, director of Massachusetts Office of Refugees and Immigrants, set the framework of civil rights and justice
as the basic foundation for all other immigrant integration efforts. Referring to laws such as Arizona’s SB1070 and
administrative programs such as 287G and Secure Communities, Chacon pointed to the deepening divisions between law
enforcement and immigrant communities that became “front and center in the nation’s public dialogue.”

Tom Perez, Assistant Attorney General of the US Department of Justice, recognized the diverse needs of the immigrant
communality that must be responded to by a streamlined government. Within the Civil Rights Division, he aims to
transform the “headwind of intolerance [against immigrants] into the tailwind,” by using legal tools to combat a full docket
of hate crimes, from a murder of a Latino student by fellow students and subsequent cover-up by local police, to the
burning of a mosque in Tennessee, to death threats against immigrant advocacy organizations. Discrimination in public
education, unfair housing and lending, racial profiling, and problematic practices of 287G are also combated by the DOJ to
protect the civil rights of immigrants.

Perez stressed that in addition to the work of the DOJ to bring justice and fairness wherever it can, there needs to be a
retelling of America’s immigrant history and the strength that immigrants bring to the economy, the armed forces, and
culture today and into the future. “There are forces of good to summon our better angels to embrace our immigrant
history,” Perez said.

State Representative Kyrsten Sinema retold her own story of witnessing the changes brought on by migration in Arizona.
Throughout her upbringing she saw unprecedented economic growth, once the country’s fastest growing state, into a state
with the most hateful laws on immigration that drives out the very same economic contributors to the state. The changes
were a result of the combination of massive internal migration from the Midwest to the Southwest and “Operation
Gatekeeper” (1994) that blocked migration corridors besides the Arizona desert thus spurring unauthorized migration into
the state. The federal government’s enforcement-only strategies underestimated the desperation of migrants who were given
the choice between starvation and crossing the Arizona desert. Instead of dealing constructively with the social changes
and the natural emotional reactions, the state’s extremist and nativist forces exploited the atmosphere by passing dozens of
anti-immigrant laws, of which SB1070 is just a marker on the road.

At the same time, Sinema pointed to the larger percentages of Americans and Arizonans who support CIR over SB1070, and
that if states are given a good choice and a bad choice, citizens will choose the good. However, we must have larger,
morally courageous community discussions to prevent other states to copy Arizona and to counter proposals such as
denying birthright citizenship and charging immigrant children tuition for public schools with constructive measures such
as wage protection, crackdown on real crime, and strengthen police-community relations.

Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the national grassroots organizing group Center for Community Change, spoke
about the successes of the immigrant rights movement. In the past two years, over a million people have taken to the
streets from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. Even though it has been tough, there were incredible alliances built between
community groups (African-Americans, labor unions, etc.) to put Comprehensive Immigration Reform on the agenda.
Bhargava believes enforcement is necessary for America’s integrity, but the priorities must be to end deportations for
families and migrant workers simply looking to provide for their families. In addition, Bhargava urges the movement to stay
united, as it did when over 250,000 marched in Washington this year. He pointed to the phenomenon of the Tea Party,
which was against great odds but did not give up. Instead, it transformed the public discourse, unfortunately against
immigrants. “Once in our country, it was illegal for women to vote, it was illegal for African-Americans to sit in the front of
the bus, it was illegal to love someone of the same gender,” Bhargava said. “It is now illegal for migrants to work to provide
for their families and contribute to our economy.” Just as the Civil Rights Movement had many moments of doubt and
uncertainty, Bhargava believes that the immigration reform movement will find a way when there seems to be no way.

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[ Promoting Naturalization: The Way Forward


Damian Thorman, John S. and James L. Knight
Foundation

I. INTRODUCTION: BEGINNING AT THE END Today, in America, there are more than 12.6 million green
card holders1 who live in our communities, work in our
Sometimes I wish that anyone who has ever spoken communities, but will never truly and fully participate in
against immigration, or claimed that immigrants don’t our communities—until they are citizens.
strengthen the fabric of America, could see what we just
saw—a naturalization ceremony. They can’t vote.

We witnessed something you could not see in a country And as we saw at recent pro-immigrant rallies, where
like France or Japan. The theme of this conference, immigrants feared to reveal their identities for fear of
“Becoming American,” reflects a remarkable idea: that it discrimination or deportation, the ability to speak out is
is possible for anyone to become American, no matter limited.
where they were born.
So long as they can’t advance their own interests—either
To witness 29 people from 14 countries living out our because of the fear or drawing attention to themselves, or
national creed— e pluribus unum —is to understand the because the ballot box remains closed to them—they will
journey, the sacrifice, the pride, and the purpose of those remain unseen to their leaders and their communities.
Americans who are Americans by choice. And our democracy will stray further from our ideal of
being a representative democracy.
With the 140 words of our oath of allegiance, they have
concluded a process that, for many of them, has taken So that’s why Knight Foundation is involved.
years or even decades.
The reason I’m so passionate about this issue is because
That end is where I would like to begin. Because I am I’ve worked on issues surrounding immigration for many
convinced that the single most important thing we can do years, as a prosecutor in Kansas City, as a staffer for then-
to advance immigrant rights in this country is devote more US Representative Bill Richardson, and now as National
resources to helping eligible immigrants become citizens. Program Director for the Knight Foundation.

II. KNIGHT FOUNDATION’S COMMITMENT I’ve seen how our country’s historically open arms have
become increasingly closed to immigrants—with
I’m here today on behalf of the John S. and James L. bureaucratic roadblocks, costly fees, and other hurdles at
Knight foundation. nearly every turn.

As you may know, the Knight brothers were in the And I’ve seen the injustice and exploitation that results
newspaper business. They owned dozens of newspapers, when the protections of citizenship are lacking.
and believed deeply in having informed communities.
One of my earliest memories is going with my parents
Today, much of Knight Foundation’s work is devoted to when I was young to picket a store in Kansas City,
investing in journalistic excellence in the digital age— the Missouri. The store was selling grapes that were
information side of the equation. harvested by migrant farm workers who were being
exploited—and Cesar Chavez was there.
But we’re also deeply invested in the second part of that
equation: the communities themselves. Our foundation So while it’s an exaggeration to say that I was marching
is active in 26 of the communities where the Knights with Cesar Chavez at age 8, it’s not an exaggeration to say
owned newspapers. We believe it is vitally important to that there will be exploitation so long as immigrants don’t
have informed, engaged communities. As John Knight have a voice.
said, we seek: “to bestir the people into an awareness of
their own condition…and rouse them to pursue their true And I believe—and the foundation for which I work
interests.”  believes—the voice will ultimately come from citizens
who carry the recent memory of being immigrants.
And that is why immigrant integration is so important to
us.

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III. A DEFENSE OF THIS AREA OF FOCUS So we believe we need to increase naturalization because
it’s the newest residents who will be the loudest voices for
There are some who will question—understandably—the tomorrow’s immigrants.
logic of focusing on naturalization when there are so
many other pressing issues facing immigrants in America. • Another reason we’re pursuing this strategy is because
devoting more resources to naturalization does not
And it is true. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a time when detract from the pursuit of other changes that will help
there’s been a stronger, angrier, strain of nativism in our our country’s immigrants.
country.
In many ways it advances them. In encouraging and
The appeals to fear, the fictitious “beheadings in the supporting immigrants through the process of
desert,” the truly vindictive legislative proposals we’re naturalization, we will inevitably be equipping them with
seeing in places like Arizona, and the venomous threats to the skills and knowledge to improve their own lives and
repeal the birthright citizenship provision of the 14th the lives of their families—becoming more successful
amendment, argue for a throaty defense of immigration examples of American integration, not balkanization.
and immigrants writ large.
As you know, more than half of immigrants who are
So at a time when millions of illegal immigrants live in otherwise eligible for citizenship don’t go through with
constant fear of raids and have no clear path to legal the process because they have a limited ability to speak
residency… when even legal immigrants face English—a fundamental prerequisite for integration.
exploitation… is this strategy putting un undue focus on
According to the Center for Adult English Language
the immigrants who are lucky enough to have obtained
Acquisition, almost half of the 1.2 million adults in
legal permanent resident status?
federally funded adult education programs are there to
After all, they are already in the pipeline and enjoy learn English. Waiting lists are long and resources are not
advantages many of their fellow immigrants do not. sufficient for the need. Fully two-thirds of immigrant
students who need to learn English have no access to
But that’s exactly why we believe this counterintuitive programs of any kind to help them do so.
agenda is the right one.
As a report from the National Governor’s Association
notes, limited English proficiency is a major barrier to
• One of the reasons that it’s “safe” for politicians to
scapegoat immigrants is because while immigration advancement and better earnings for immigrants. It found
numbers have gone up, corresponding naturalization that average earnings improve as much as 10% with
rates have not. English fluency.

Right now, government programs that help people learn


As a result, it’s easy to paint an entire group as outsiders,
English are inadequate. If we dedicated more resources to
part of the problem, rather than citizens and equally
increasing immigrant access to ESL classes—other
invested neighbors and members of communities in
immigrants, including those who do not hold green cards
which we all live. Politicians know they can score
—would benefit hugely, both economically and in terms
political points by attacking immigrants, and they can get
of their own prospects if they enter the naturalization
away with it because no one will hold them accountable
process.
at the polls.
• Pursuing naturalization guarantees legal rights and
Think how much this dynamic would change if foreign- protections that legal permanent residents lack.
born citizens comprised a larger share of the electorate.
And think how significant the numbers we’re talking Citizens can never be deported, and they are less
about are: Roughly 8.5 million green card holders were vulnerable to the capricious whims of politicians or public
eligible to seek US citizenship as of 2005 but have not opinion. Naturalization is often the difference between
done so. freedom and fear.

Now look at the number of states and races where a small • Citizens qualify for federal jobs and for government
handful of votes sways the outcome. With more benefits not available to noncitizens. Studies show that
naturalized citizens voting, the sort of harsh rhetoric employers are often more willing to hire naturalized
would threaten the political survival of politicians citizens than immigrants with green cards, even though
foolhardy enough to use it. both have the legal right to work in the United States.

They might just have to start coming up with constructive Finally, this is a strategy that is realistic about our political
solutions for how to deal with immigration issues and prospects. This is an incredibly hostile environment.
immigrant needs, instead of engaging in destructive
Centering our public campaigns around the issue of
attacks.
naturalization is the most effective way to keep our

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2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

agenda moving forward this environment. Encouraging encourage them to become engaged members of their
legal residents to become full citizens is patriotism, not communities.
activism.
V. CONCLUSION
IV. OUR INVESTMENTS Of all the barriers to naturalization—the expense, the lack
For all of these reasons, Knight Foundation has dedicated of legal counsel, the need for language proficiency—
millions of dollars over the years to funding programs perhaps the greatest obstacle is the persistent belief that
that increase rates of naturalization, improve English- naturalization doesn’t matter. That it is merely a symbolic
language education, and strengthen the local and national final step that isn’t worth the trouble.
network of immigrant-serving organizations across the
country. But focusing on naturalization is an opportunity for us to
be proactive, rather than defensive. Instead of reacting to
We’ve partnered with the National Council of La Raza on the next bad court decision, the next draconian piece of
a naturalization campaign in seven of our 26 Knight legislation… we have an opportunity to champion an
communities—through free media, citizenship drives and effort that will appeal to people regardless of their politics.
partnerships with local organizations, we helped nearly
10,000 green card holders become citizens. When some would yell, “Speak English!”—we can answer
with, “Help us give more people the opportunity to learn
The Ya Es Hora (YEH) campaign was conducted in English!”
cooperation with Univision and NALEO. YEH “is a So I’d ask you to consider funding efforts that advance the
national campaign assisting the over 8.3 million eligible cause of naturalization.
legal permanent residents get on the path towards US
citizenship. I’d ask you to join Knight Foundation—so that we,
together, can keep moving people towards citizenship.
We’ve worked with PICO to reach out to religious
congregations and garner support for naturalization. Our And most of all, I’d ask you to imagine—imagine an
joint effort created free citizenship classes and assisted America with 8.5 million new citizens, and think about
2,500 immigrants in filling out applications for citizenship. what that would mean for our national debate, and
national policies.
We’ve worked with the National Governors Association to
develop model public policy programs on how governors If you like the image in your head… and I know I do…
can engage on naturalization policy. let’s work together to make it a reality.

We’ve worked with YMCA to create local model programs It was 50 years ago this month that one of Boston’s native
on naturalization and immigrant integration in 11 sons, John F. Kennedy famously spoke about his faith, and
communities. his loyalty to America.

In that speech he made clear that while his faith—like


We’ve worked with the Naturalization Working Group to others culture or upbringing—enriched his life, his
coordinate organizations that work in naturalization and ultimate loyalty was to the US
connect them to the federal government. Their push for
greater funding of naturalization resulted in $11 million in In his words: “… this year it may be a Catholic against
new funding this year. whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, … Today I may be
the victim, but tomorrow it may be you—until the whole
We’ve worked with the National League of Cities to fabric of our harmonious society is ripped at a time of
launch the Immigrant Integration Program to help mayors great national peril.”
and other city officials more effectively handle the
immigration issues they face. The initiative circulated He concluded that speech by pointing to the fact that if he
information on successful city programs, provided training should win election, he would without reservation take
and education assistance and helped municipal that oath in which he pledged to preserve, protect, and
governments promote naturalization and civic defend the Constitution—the same words we just saw our
participation newest citizens speak.

And speaking of cities, Mayor Menino deserves real praise In this country, immigrants are our doctors (one of every
for his work in this area. Over a decade ago, he four), our teachers, our engineers, our laborers, our friends
established the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians to reach and neighbors.
out to the city’s immigrants. Through his initiatives, Boston
has become a model for cities nationwide of how to It’s time to make many more of them our fellow citizens.
proactively address the needs of immigrants and
Thank you.

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[ NIIC Opening Remarks


Eva A. Millona- Executive Director,
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

Thank you, Westy, for your kind words, and for your vision
and commitment as my fellow co-chair to the second National
Immigrant Integration Conference, and our remarkable
contribution to this conference, and to the immigrant and
refugee communities in MA.  Thank you also to our esteemed
speakers, Paul Grogan, Damien Thorman and Mayor Thomas
Menino, for opening the conference with your thoughtful
remarks. My deepest thanks also to the many funders without
whom this conference would not have been possible, both
those listed in the program book and those who would like to
remain anonymous. And thank you to the National Partnership
for New Americans for offering us the opportunity to host this
gathering — the Partnership’s first public event since formally
incorporated.

As Executive Director of MIRA, I would also like to take a


moment to thank MIRA staff members Nicole Tambouret, Samuel Tsoi, and Lauren Powers. Planning this unique
gathering required undertakings beyond their already full set of daily responsibilities. I am enormously indebted to
their efforts.

 Indeed, the efforts of MIRA staff, our funders,  the efforts of the Partnership, and the efforts of all of you tonight
demonstrate a willingness to meet new challenges, to shoulder increasing responsibilities — in a word, to grow. This
conference is, in part, recognition that “Becoming American,” as we’ve titled our gathering, is a process of growth.

All of you who have watched children grow know that the process can seem inevitable, independent, even
unstoppable. But, as caring adults, you also know that this miracle is hardly passive; it requires active support from
everyone. It’s much the same for the healthy growth of a garden, or of an economy, or of a nation.

 Currently, there are 35 million people living in United States born in other countries. They form the second largest
immigrant wave in our nation’s history. During the last wave, at the turn of the twentieth century, the country
responded with settlement houses and an Americanization program that involved everyone from the DAR to local
churches. This current wave requires an even greater response, a coordinated agenda between advocates, government,
native-born communities, and the foreign-born themselves. We know that economic equality, civil rights, English
acquisition, labor opportunities and civic engagement thrive when and where there is attention to this agenda. That is
why this yearly conference was instituted.

Over the course of the next few days, we will frankly and fully examine the state of immigrant integration in our
country. Our purpose is to share best practices in all the aforementioned arenas, from the perspectives of academia,
from every level of government, and from every kind of nonprofit agency. Tonight, briefly, I want to acknowledge the
growth that occurred for this examination to take place.

Within walking distance of this conference are the offices of MIRA. Since our inception in 1987, we have developed
from a small policy institution into the largest immigrant advocacy organization in New England, with an office in
New Hampshire, members throughout the six-state region, and a dedicated organizing division working with
immigrant communities across the commonwealth. As the foreign-born population of Massachusetts crosses the one
million mark, we are proud to bring together well over 130 organizations and thousands of individuals who help the
foreign-born from Lowell to New Bedford, from the Cape to the Berkshires.

As we grew, so did the nine other coalitions that formed the National Partnership for New Americans, most of which
are statewide organizations, Though this conference is the first flagship event since the Partnership’s recent
incorporation, it is certainly not the first event bringing together these coalitions. Last year, the Illinois Coalition and
the Colorado Springs Institute hosted the first conference in Denver, a gathering so successful we decided to make the
event an annual one.

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Denver was certainly a fitting city for the first integration conference. A strong and steady flow of immigration has
remade our Western states, long a frontier of social change and a leading demographic marker for the nation. It is
equally fitting, I believe, that the conference now comes from the new West to the old East. Boston, as you know, is
near the site of the nation’s first Thanksgiving. It was the home of abolitionist preachers who led the moral crusade
against slavery. It is where the nation’s first Catholic president grew up. And it is where Governor Deval Patrick began
the most comprehensive immigrant integration process in the nation, the New Americans Agenda.

Boston, of course, is also home to a famous old tea party that has inspired a powerful new political movement this
election year. Yet the partisans who look to Boston’s brave colonial past for their inspiration all too often fuel their
mission by attacking newcomers with rhetoric that smacks
of xenophobia, to say the least. In this year of the Tea Party
movement, I think it is fitting that the original Tea Party City
should counter the nativist trend with this national gathering
to foster inclusion and integration.

No doubt, immigrants are vital to the economic success,


demographic strength, and cultural diversity of
Massachusetts. But in these difficult times, that vitality is
paired with vulnerability. Just as MIRA, its sister coalitions,
and the Partnership they formed have all grown to meet the
needs of this vital immigrant wave, so we must now grow
into our roles as the national voice of America’s
newcomers. Together, we must speak for fundamental
reform of our immigration laws and policy, and beyond that,
for a federal policy that would significantly increase the
naturalization of the foreign born as part of a thoughtful
national agenda of inclusion. In the coming years, we will
continue to gather annually to monitor and foster the
integration of newcomers into this great and enduring
nation. This is our duty, to secure our growth as a nation,
and to renew our ideals as Americans.

Thank you to everyone for coming. Enjoy the rest of your


evening, and I look forward to spending time with you over
these exciting next few days. 

[ Paul Grogan: The Boston Foundation


Paul Grogan

Paul Grogan spoke about the crucial role of immigrants in the Massachusetts economy. Both the US and New
England face the challenges of slow population growth, declining birth rates, and an aging population. Immigration
will account for 82% of US population growth between 2005 and 2050 and the contributions of immigrants will
determine our economic future. The Boston Foundation is focused on strategies to unlock the potential of recent
immigrants, including a focus on English language skills, workforce training programs, and college completion
services. A few specific programs were highlighted, including SkillWorks, a multi-year workforce development
initiative with immigrants making up 46% of its participants, to Success Boston, a program focusing on college
completion for BPS students.

12! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010
2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary Report

[ Becoming Americans
Westy Egmont- President, Association of New Americans

Congratulations.

You are no longer ‘aliens,’ ‘foreigners,’


but as of the oath you have taken you
are Americans. You can freely and
proudly take the title, Citizen of the
United States.

Today you claim this new legal status


at the National Immigrant Integration
Conference. Public officials, policy
specialists, immigrant advocates,
human service providers, researchers
and academics are here to celebrate
with you and pursue the questions
about what helps people like you
become Americans.

Those of us here should ask why


everyone who could be a citizen has not
taken this step.
We want to eliminate barriers and increase the sense of welcome.

Like a wedding, today is the legal and public moment of your naturalization but it one step in a process of becoming
Americans

• You left…war or hunger or political threat…as a refugee (10%),


• You left…with a mission for your family of finding work and then sending money back so others could survive,
• You followed your parents or your spouse to keep your family close and supportive,
• Or the company said go or there were no doors open and you climbed out to begin a new life of opportunity,
• You decided where to be in this great big world and chose this place.

Welcome!

You may have every choice or virtually none but you made your choice and got on the plane or bus or boat. The US
beckoned you. The USA, that wonderful mix of people where others like you have found a home, the wonderful
experiment that we call democracy where we share hope by being self-governing, the wonderful economy that can
welcome and support a herdsman from Somalia and a stem cell researcher from China, that needs more doctors and
nurses and an economy that will give a start to most anyone willing to wash dishes.

I happen to know a few of you. Tigit, I would be happy for your care if I were hospitalized. Brigitt, you are a defender of
human rights which you know are at risk here and abroad. Dean Godenzi, you are an international renown leader in
social work. Each new citizen brings this country a gift and I believe we should be honored that you have chosen us as
your family, your future, your nation.

Your becoming Americans had many decision points from visa applications to Green Cards, from submitting I 400s to
showing up for finger prints. Over and over you had to decide the direction of your life.

But another process was equally important. You felt at home. Maybe. It was suddenly a feeling as you turned onto your
street with your keys to your apartment. Most feel like Americans when they make a friend who is native born or at
least settled here from somewhere else. Many find the workplace and the classroom to be the mixing bowl, the place
where new relationships define who you are becoming.

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 13


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

And language…how frustrating to have someone say “Play Ball,” or “Sleep on it,” “You bet,” or “Knock it off,” or our
local favorite…”Wicked”…or a thousand other American phrases. Learning English-whew! That’s work, but it is the tool
for your success here -and it is a tough language. Sometimes it was hard to find a class offered at your level, they were
full or offered while you worked or needed to sleep or just for kids or expensive. But many of you already knew more
than one language and this was just one more mountain to climb and you have done it!

And roadblocks… You had to learn English and history. If you have a popular name in your land of birth, well it is hard
for our systems to know which one you really are and give you security clearance. If you have sick parents and went
back too many times, you messed up the requirement for continual presence and if the recession hit you like everyone
and the government said, “Please send in $2500 for your family to apply,” well that might have been simply impossible.

But here you are and taking the oath is the major moment like reciting your wedding vows. But you have been
becoming Americans- by reading the paper, by listening to your children who take freedom and opportunity for granted,
by your employer who treats you like everyone else (probably poorly) and by paying all those taxes, sitting on the T,
eating Fenway Franks and having a ketchup bottles on the table everywhere. A hundred little things and hopefully a few
helping hands bring you to a place where you sense that you are an American.

On behalf of all, I welcome you but urge you to not see this as an end. Just as important as today is when you vote,
when you sing the national anthem and when you thank a US soldier for their service on your behalf. It is about
becoming American, today and in the days that follow as you pursue dreams, help others coming behind you and work
toward having the kind of country you hoped America would be when you decided to become an American.

Immigrant Civic Leadership


September 30, 2010 council seat on the first attempt. That is the power of
Moderator: Westy Egmont, President, Association of New putting an immigrant face in politics, an Asian-American
Americans, NIIC Conference Co-Chair man ran and Asian-Americans went out to vote. That is the
power of individuals who came into the process to activate
Panelists: Julissa Gutierrez, Director of Civic engagement, our civic life, stated Mr. Egmont. If the electorate changes
NALEO Education Fund; Fatima Shama, Commissioner, New
they need to identify with the candidates, civic leadership
York City Office of Immigrant Affairs; Juan Vega, Executive
Director, CentroLatino
needs to arise.

Summary: Cristina Aguilera, MIRA Coalition National Scenario


Julissa Gutierrez, the Director of Civic Engagement of
Abstract Education Fund in the National Association of Latino
Immigrants are advancing into key leadership positions Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), provided an
while engaging in models that add value to America’s overview of NALEO achievements in terms of Latino civic
social and civic scenario. Dynamic models of civic engagement in 2011. Their goals of education,
engagement and leadership development demonstrate that mobilization and integration of the Latino community into
investing in the civic education of the immigrant the political process were carried out through the
population, to participate actively in the political decisions campaign ¡ya es hora! (now is the time!) in three phases:
that affect them, results in a higher commitment and
stronger political power. There is a lot more to be done to 1. Ciudadanía (citizenship): access to citizenship for
engage them effectively, but the pipeline is being laid and over 4 million Latinos eligible.
the national and local efforts presented below show good 2. ¡Vé y Vota! (go ahead and vote): electoral
examples of it. involvement.
3. Hágase Contar (make yourself count): participation
Opening in the 2010 Census.
Westy Egmont, the moderator of the panel, reminded
participants how in 2005 Boston city council had an open NALEO also activates their Policy, Research and Advocacy
seat and the immigrant groups ran to find an immigrant to Department to promote public policies that help ensure
cover that official seat. It was hard, but the Korean- full Latino political participation, representation and
American Sam Yoon won. He became the first person in appointments to the administration. Every year they have a
the history of Boston municipal elections to win an at-large summit in Washington, DC to train newly elected officials
on how to implement programs that can help their

14! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010
2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary Report

communities, providing them with the skill training to


be the best elected official.

They start from understanding the answer to why


individuals aren’t civically engaged and highlight the
challenges:

• Translation missing on basic information, such as


the Frequently Asked Questions pages;
• Why do they wait 11 years on average to apply for
citizenship? over $675 cost of the paper work, fear
of the naturalization test;
• Pronounced gap between potential voters, voters
registered and actual people who go and vote.

Then, understand the political environment, plan and


implement the strategies that will attract the immigrant
community into civic involvement and strengthen their
campaigns.
• Invigorate outsiders by creating a sense of urgency • The law demands translation for all the legal documents
through media, grassroots organizing and campaigns and more, into 6 languages: Spanish, Italian, Chinese,
such as ¡ya es hora!; Haitian Creole, Russian and Korean. 1 out of 4 kids
• Partnership with local chapters of professional speak another language;
institutions; • They work consciously to protect the well being of
• Create networks of affiliates and locals to sustain their immigrants and facilitate their communication;
campaign ¡ya es hora!; • They are raising the bar of their engagement within the
• Online platforms provided infrastructure and community through this program;
information through a National Bilingual Program. • They develop parent leaders through a community
• Expose to media and encourage the community to get educational council, which works in each district to
ready to apply for citizenship; ensure that education has parent’s involvement. Giving
• Help identify the resources available to direct the parents a stake in policies that will impact their children
community to them with the right local message education and well being.
(because the messages in NYC or CA, for example, is
different). NYC’s initiative has demonstrated that through a fast
leadership effort they can confront unexpected situations
NALEO sharing, networking and media partnership is successfully, such as:
crucial. The local community needs a trusted source to be
the messenger. Earned media and the involvement of TV • Haiti earthquake: they quickly worked with faith and
networks such as Univision and their personalities community leaders to respond on how to assist with the
embracing the Latino efforts has been of great help in Temporary Protected Status (TPS) process and recruited
NALEO efforts. over 300 volunteers in one day to go out, engage and
serve the Haitian community needs.
Local Scenario H1N1 Swine Flu: they promptly translated the

Fatima Shama, Commissioner at the New York City Office information especially to Muslim communities who,
of Immigrant Affairs, provided statistics about immigrants before, wouldn’t vaccinate their family because they
and their background in NYC. Out of 8.4 million people in thought it was the “pig” flu.
NYC, 40% are immigrant, 60% if counting their children.
They speak 170 different languages and come from 192 Currently they recognize that even though immigrants are
different countries. very active in many facets of their communities, often they
do not participate in police, school and important civic
NYC strategy is to build bridges by working with meetings. Therefore, their new campaign is oriented to
colleagues in the Government to impact policies and work train civic leaders and give them a role in organizing and
closely with the immigrant community. creating associations in these areas.

The key elements to the Building Bridges effort in NYC are: On the other hand, Juan Vega, the Executive Director of
Confidentiality agreement within the government and Centro Latino, provided participants with a local
• perspective that started with his personal story.
the service providers. Therefore they don’t disclose
immigrant status;

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 15


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

He was born in Everett, his parents are from Puerto Rico. the lead to go to high school, stay in school, graduate
Growing up, he thought it was normal and common that and learn about available applications for college and
all of his neighbors were Latino. When older, he felt the financial aid.
hostility from being a Latino immigrant, and in college he • Jessica Quintana from Longbeach, California: created a
was notoriously a Latino. One day, on a trip to Guatemala, workforce youth development program where civic
he heard someone said “the gringos are here” referring to engagement was the number one priority: youth taking
him. He was very confused, and that’s when he most leadership to look at how state officials and educators
struggled to understand his own background, like many create policy. They created a Latino advisory board and
other children of immigrants. commission. California endowment just chose 14 cities
and will provide them $10 million and chose 10
Immigrants make up 36% of the people in his town and outcomes through strategic planning for 9 months.
48% of those are Latinos. The non-profit he directs, Centro Advocacy of the youth is key.
Latino, was created to provide services to this immigrant • Regular people take the leadership we need to work
with youth and undocumented and listen to them to
engage their ideas
• Churches develop youth groups
• Media literacy and critical leadership
• Educational board members
• Public officials talking in the community “real public
engagement”
• Consistent support from Government so initiatives don’t
get stopped for lack of funding
• Components of civic engagement : Get Out the Vote
(GOTV), research, empowerment

Civic Leadership Initiatives into the Future


The panelists suggested ways for civic leadership efforts to
be effective into the future, based on their experience. Juan
Vega underlined that anger and frustration are the best
opportunities to engage people and get them to act and
react.
community on sensitive topics such as health care,
education, English classes, HIV prevention and substance While Julissa Gutierrez asked the question are we going to
abuse, as well as other larger community supports. engage in the traditional Get Out The Vote (GOTV) or be
innovative? She encouraged future initiatives to:
He encouraged the participants to look through the
challenges we all struggle with, like funding and resources, • Unify your message. Engage media at a local level and
and get over them. These challenges have always and will create relationships,
always be there. What will happen out of the work in this • Build multicultural coalitions,
conference is going into the future and creating a change. • Grow and sustain civic leadership. Immigrant numbers
He mentioned that just being able to help the right people are growing and Latinos recognize that their vote can
might not give institutions credit and funding or the best affect change,
relationship with elected officials, but it was the right thing. • Reintegrate the faith community, but integrate ourselves
The life span of non-profit organizations is limited and we first,
need to build the capacity and develop the leadership in Overcome one of the biggest challenges: the “black and

the community. Even if that would put our organizational brown” experience, minorities need to split funding.
leadership at risk. Latino role and vote is critical everywhere especially in

AZ, FL, GA, and NV,
Westy Egmont asked the question: If 50,000 Latinos turn
• By 2020 the Latino community will have grown to
18 every year, who is reaching these kids and bringing
nearly 60,000,000 in the US. We have to provide them
them into civic engagement? The audience gave different
with the infrastructure to build up their capacity.
examples of their work to answer this question.
• Lay the pipeline in training and assistance for
immigrants.
• Claire Tesh from the American Immigration Council:
engage the youth in after school clubs and faith groups.
Fatima Shama concluded that we have a responsibility to
For example in Long Island there is a public service
make our youth learn the importance and the passion of
requirement for students to graduate.
their history and personal story. The story of the
• Rebeca Villagran from San Antonio, Texas: gathered
development of their communities has to be told and
university students as a middle person to connect them
projected as a success story into the future.
every other week around the Dream Act. Students took

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Receiving Communities
September 30, 2010 the state. To promote a more positive environment, the
Spring Institute didn’t focus on policy, but rather on helping
Moderator: David Lubell, Welcoming America
communities identify local level strategies to
Panelists: Susan Downs-Karkos, Director of Integration promote community cohesion and positive interaction
Strategies, Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning; between immigrant and US-born communities. Examples of
Kasar Abdulla, Director of Advocacy & Education, Welcoming these strategies include: potlucks, dialogues, mentoring or
Tennessee/TIRRC; Brook Mead, Berkshire Immigrant Center
buddy programs, learning exchanges, leadership councils,
Summary: Ellen Gallagher, Welcoming America group activities (health fair), cultural celebrations,
photography exhibits, radio stories and community
education around culture. A key to success was that strong
Abstract
champions emerged who brought strong credibility to these
The country is in the midst of a massive demographic shift.
efforts, and each community felt local ownership and
This shift is happening both in terms of sheer numbers of
adapted the program to their local conditions. In addition,
migrants but also in terms of geographic dispersal. Across
they found that engaging opinion leaders and stakeholders,
the country, there are new immigrant gateways; these are
such as local media, early on is helpful. Engaging those
areas that are experiencing dramatic growth in their
who typically don't participate in such efforts was a
immigrant population for the first time. This is in contrast to
challenge, in part due to time limitations. Such individuals
traditional gateways that are accustomed to receiving
may be reticent to engage on an integration project, but
immigrants and have the social structures that generally
may be more willing to when an effort is focused on
value, or at least accept, these new immigrants into their
an issue that is important to them, such as health care.
communities as they have for generations. Examples of
new gateway population include Kurds in Nashville, TN
Another challenge was engaging immigrants in this work
and Latinos in Nebraska.
and having them effectively connect with the receiving
community, sometimes for the first time, with even
The Receiving Communities movement is a new initiative
rudimentary issues such as the time to hold meetings
that is part of the immigrant integration field and
posing barriers.
recognizes that there is a need to address the receiving
community if we want immigrants and refugees to succeed
Welcoming Berkshires is hosted at the Berkshire Immigrant
and integrate. If communities are hostile toward the
Center and has made significant strides to make the
newcomers in their community, it is far less likely that the
Berkshires more welcoming to immigrants and refugees.
newcomers will integrate. Arizona and Hazelton, PA are
Berkshire County is the westernmost county in
just two examples of places where this has happened.
Massachusetts. It is mostly a rural area of only 131,000
While many groups reach out to receiving communities as
residents, with about 8-10% of the population being foreign
part of their projects, this movement is the first whose main
born. Immigrants, however, are the only growing segment of
goal and focus is to engage receiving communities in the
the workforce. The Cross Cultural Action Network (CCAN)
process of immigrant integration. This movement is
helps to meet the needs of immigrants and other minority
working to gather resources, reach individuals not
groups through promoting cultural awareness. CCAN
traditionally engaged with integration and create systems
decided to take on the Welcoming Berkshires project
to measure results.
because there was a local and national attitude shift against
immigrants that was becoming increasingly negative. They
Discussions
were also mobilized by an increase in the number of
In Colorado, the Spring Institute for Intercultural Learning
incidences of racial profiling and other forms of
administers one of the most innovative immigrant
discrimination against people looking for an apartment,
integration initiatives in the nation. It does this by
applying for a driver’s license or buying food in the grocery
managing the Supporting Immigrant and Refugee Families
store. To address this negative sentiment, CCAN worked to
Initiative (SIRFI) on behalf of The Colorado Trust. Spring
change the tone of the debate by passing three resolutions
Institute provides technical assistance to participating
that declared key cities to be “Welcoming cities.” In
communities on creating and implementing
addition, they collected over 500 pledges county-wide,
comprehensive immigrant   integration plans. The
gained positive media attention for immigrants and their
initiative was created because Colorado was a top-10 new
contributions, and had officials and community members
gateway state from 1990-2000. In Colorado, most
talking about their “Welcoming Community.”
immigrants are from Mexico, but there are many other
groups, including individuals from Russia, Vietnam and
Through these outreach efforts, Welcoming Berkshires was
Korea. There was some community ambivalence and
able to disseminate the message that immigrants contribute
even backlash growing around the level of immigration to
enormously to the economy and are hard-working, tax-

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 17


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

paying resident who enrich our environment with their Welcoming America is the national movement that grew
diverse cultures and backgrounds. They also were able to out of Welcoming Tennessee. Welcoming America works
get key groups to ensure that they have equal access to with its 15 affiliates in 14 states to make communities in
local services and are able to quickly integrate into the those states or regions more welcoming by facilitating local
community. leadership development, public engagement and strategic
communications. Welcoming America also supports its
The Welcoming Tennessee Initiative was developed in affiliates in evaluation and fundraising. Like the Spring
2005, also in response to increased divisions and Institute, the Welcoming model seeks to meet individuals
misunderstandings between US-born community members where they are and engage entire communities in the
and their immigrant neighbors. Long-term Tennesseans integration process.
saw that their state was changing and were uncomfortable
with it and no group was addressing these fears Disagreement/discussion
proactively. Welcoming Tennessee engaged the receiving Question: How this relates to the immigrant rights
community, including those who were fearful, by movement? Does this take away resources from immigrant
developing immigrant and non-immigrant leaders who rights?
could work together. These leaders engaged the broader
Answer/Discussion: Working with receiving communities is
community through dialogues, presentations and the
an integral part of immigrant integration. Without tending to
media. The outreach focused on issues that the audience
the soil [the receiving communities], how can the flowers
cared about but also helped them to understand their
[the immigrants] be expected to grow? Working for
immigrant neighbors. Welcoming Tennessee saw that
immigrant rights is another part of immigrant integration, in
giving presentations was not enough and that to really
that if immigrants have access to more services and status,
change the tone in how immigrants and refugees were
they will be able to better integrate. These initiatives are not
discussed in their communities, they needed to reach a
seen as competing, but as two essential parts of creating a
broader audience. To do this, the committees launched
more fully integrated country.
paid media campaigns in which billboards were put up
with welcoming messages like “I was a stranger, and you
Question: How do you know if the Welcoming model
welcomed me. – Matthew 25:35,” “Welcoming the
works?
immigrant you once were” and “I pay over $3,000 each
year in local taxes. I’m glad to do my part. I love America, Answer/Discussion: Proving that people’s opinions have
and I’m proud to call Shelbyville home.” These billboards, been changed is a challenge that many groups face.
along with positive media stories about the contributions Welcoming groups are doing this through polling and
and realities of immigrants in Tennessee helped to dispel evaluations at their events.
many myths and make Nashville and Shelbyville more
welcoming cities. Nashville was named Most Welcoming Next steps
City by Travel & Leisure magazine in 2009 and elected To learn more about the initiatives discussed in this panel,
leaders now frequently describe having a welcoming you can access the websites of the organizations at:
community as a top priority for their community. www.berkshireic.com, www.spring-institute.org,
welcomingtn.org and www.welcomingamerica.org.

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Professional Re-credentialing
September 30, 2011 immigrant does. Refugees might have had to leave their
Moderator: Michael Fix, Senior Vice President and Director of
home in the middle of the night and could not carry
Studies, Migration Policy Institute. documents, credentials or transcripts. Many of them may
come with psychological trauma, having faced the
Panelists: Nuzhat Jafri, Office of the Fairness Commission, difficulty of leaving their family in such dangerous
Ontario Province; Linda Rabben, Director Refugee Works,
conditions. Moreover, a lot of them are considered traitors
Lutheran Immigrant & Refugee Services; Paul Feltman, Director
in their homeland and also by refugees that came before
of Community Engagement, World Education Services; Jennifer
Perez Brennan, Director of Policy Initiatives, Upwardly Global
them. Not to mention that there are also different laws for
refugees than for immigrants.
Summary: Marcia Pescador
Second, resettlement is not the same as integration. “We
Abstract need to get them housing, medical aid, find them a job and
Mr. Fix started the session talking about educated register their children in schools” Ms, Rabben said. She
immigrants and the importance of their integration in jobs also pointed that it is critical that they get “economic self
where they can apply their knowledge. He accentuated sufficiency” which is quite complicated since there is low
that nearly half of Latino immigrants with high education financial assistance to refugees. Another problem is that
are working non-skilled jobs. Moreover, he pointed out there are no statistics about how many refugees are
that a change in the employment opportunities would be a professionals.
fiscal and a political challenge.
Survey work is needed. Ms. Rabben is convinced that
Discussions statistics could be collected from local organizations so
The first panelist to talk was Ms. Nuzhat Jafri. Ms. Jafri that programs can be created to help refugees. “Welcome
spoke about how Canada is considered an immigrant Back Initiative,” which started in San Francisco, is one of
receiving country. For instance, she mentioned that 50% of the centers where people can get help. They help
the population in Canada is foreign-born. Ms. Jafri believes professionals to get back to their profession once they get
that the transparency in the re-credentialing process should to US. This means that they retrain nurses to be nurses;
be a priority in the immigration department in Canada. She retrain physicians to be physicians in US. The main conflict
added that even though the re-credentialing process takes here is that there are 50 different regimes in 50 different
time, now that the process is more transparent, in case of a states and this exacerbates the difficulty of the process of
rejection letter, people are well informed about the reasons re-credentialing for immigrants.
for the rejection. On the other hand, Ms. Jafri pointed out
that the one of the main problems is the disconnect After Ms. Rabben, Mr. Paul Feltman directed the session
between what immigrants are promised when they arrive and his main concern was that very few programs focus on
to the country and what they actually face. Normally, highly skilled immigrants. “There is an enormous gap
when an immigrant has higher levels of education, he or between information available for high skilled immigrants
she has better chances to get an employment. However, and immigrants themselves and even organizations helping
the recession had its impact in immigrants, with a higher immigrants” Mr. Feltman said. He underscored the
underemployment rate. importance of community colleges in the process of
providing language training, re-credentialing and training
An interesting detail about re-credentialing in Canada, that people to reintroduce them into their field of study again.
Ms. Jafri said was that, contrary to USA, once you get your
license, you can go to any jurisdiction in Canada with your Ms. Perez concluded the session acknowledging the
license and it will still be valid. Among future projects that courage of immigrants, she said that there is a risk implied
Ms. Jafri and her agency are working on is a survey that when coming to the US, and that people make the
would tell the agency where and in what professions decision of migrating, in order to support next generations.
immigrants were trained and try to get them back to their Ms. Perez underscored that a substance change is needed
profession, and look for the possibility to arrange legal to help people when they first get here, to get a good job,
mobility between Europe and Canada. to keep them informed about fellowships that bring high
skilled people. People that are overqualified in their home
The second panelist was Ms. Linda Rabben. Ms. Rabben countries, end up working in under-qualified jobs here.
focused on the importance of the resettlement of refugees. Moreover, to get a job not only English is needed but also
She indicated that we should distinguish between academic English and to learn it, many people have neither
immigrants and refugees as well as between integration time or money. Finally, Ms. Perez indicated that the
and resettlement, since contrary to what is commonly barriers of licensure can be due to financial problems or to
though, they are quite different. To begin with, a refugee the requirements of every specific city.
doesn’t arrive in USA in the same situation that an

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2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

Current Research
September 30, 2010 The project is using quantitative and qualitative evidence
to understand immigrant integration patterns and
Moderator: Edward Schumacher-Matos, Director, Immigration
and Integration Studies Project, Harvard University
particularly the fundamental contribution of community-
based organizations to the present integration resources
Panelists: Mary Waters, Professor of Sociology, Harvard landscape. The objective is to describe the existing
University; Christine Brenner, Professor of Public Policy and
resource network in order to identify gaps, improve
Administration, Rutgers University; Anastasia Mann, Director,
efficiency, and avoid duplication. The researchers
Program on Immigration and Democracy, Rutgers University;
Catherine Simpson Bueker, Professor of Sociology, Emmanuel emphasized the enthusiasm of audiences for the maps they
College; Deepak Lamba-Nieves, Doctoral Candidate, MIT have created with the help of a technical specialist,
Sloan; Abigail Williamson, Doctoral Candidate, Harvard pointing out the intuitive appeal and power the visual
Kennedy School element brings to the discussion of what are inherently
complicated topics. They mentioned some difficulty in
Summary: Hamutal Bernstein, Georgetown University
getting responses to their email surveys, describing how
they now have turned to county social service directors to
Abstract
send out the surveys on their behalf and they are hoping it
Significant enthusiasm and a desire to share experiences will “go viral.” They have supplemented the survey
definitely animated the “Current Research,” session where instrument with in-depth interviews with key immigrant
the discussion highlighted: service providers.
1. Diversity of research methods and data being used in
the immigration field (original surveys, interviews, field The other projects described on the panel consisted mainly
research, geographic mapping, national survey of individual research projects. Catherine Simpson Bueker
datasets); of Emmanuel College described her work which is seeking
to identify whether there are differences in voter turnout
2. Wide range of interests and topics being explored by
between naturalized citizens and native-born citizens, and
the research community;
particularly in her most recent project, whether there are
3. Common need for accurate empirical data; and significant variations across state lines within the US. Her
4. Potential synergy between academic researchers and results show that state-level factors have been important, at
practitioners, both policymakers and service providers. least in explaining turnout in the 2004 election data she
has been drawing on primarily. Her research shows that
Discussions naturalized citizens are more likely than native-born
Invited presenters described a diverse array of research citizens to turn out in elections when the previous election
projects focused on immigration and integration issues. was a close election, when the state climate is more
Christine Brenner and Anastasia Marin of Rutgers “receptive” to newcomers (which she operationalizes
University presented the Rutgers Immigrant Infrastructure using a measure of the percent of hate crimes based on
Map, a large-scale mapping and research project that race or ethnicity), when public advertising targets the
emerged from the recommendations of the New Jersey foreign-born, as well as several other state-level factors.
Blue Ribbon Panel on Immigrant Integration. The objective
of the large-scale research project, being conducted by Abigail Williamson of Harvard University described her
eight researchers on three campuses, is to identify the work which seeks to understand how local governments
immigrant integration infrastructure of the state of New respond to immigrants and refugees in New Destination
Jersey, one of the key immigrant destinations in the US. localities. She has conducted over three hundred
interviews with community leaders and average citizens in
four case studies: Elgin, IL; Yakima, WA; Lewiston, ME;
and Wausau, WI, and has identified an important
phenomenon of the emergence of immigrant
intermediaries.

Immigrant intermediaries are members of the immigrant


community who serve as key representatives of and
bridges to the newcomer community for local government
officials. These individuals can be self-chosen, promoted
by their immigrant community, or explicitly selected by
local government officials to overcome key
communication difficulties between receiving town and
newcomers and become the “go-to” people when issues

20! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010
2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary Report

related to immigrants arise. She argues that the work of


immigrant intermediaries can contribute positively to the
incorporation of immigrants in local communities.

Deepak Lamba-Nieves of MIT described a qualitative field


research project he has conducted studying trans-
nationalism related to two Dominican hometown
associations, and the affect that economic and social
remittances have on members of the sending and receiving
communities. He points out how trans-nationalism has
transformed the local Dominican communities’
understanding of economic and political development,
and residents’ understanding of proper state-society
relations.

Mary Waters of Harvard University described several


recent projects she has conducted on the second
generation or children of immigrants. Her work has shown
that much anxiety about the effective “assimilation” of
immigrants is not justified and that the second generation
is integrating at a satisfactory rate. One of her projects
comparing the US and European experiences highlights
the effective role that the US educational system provides
to successful integration.

There was enthusiastic discussion from the audience after


the presentations, one particularly
important point was made about access
to large-scale quantitative data, which Dr.
Brenner pointed out, is often limited
when it comes to the foreign-born
because of both restrictions on data
privacy and confidentiality where the
information is captured, and,
concomitantly, the absence of data
collection in many cases. Several of the
researchers did point out that national-
level data identifying nativity are indeed
available in the Current Population
Survey, but not at the census tract level.

One audience member described a large-


scale project he has been involved with
at the University of Missouri, a four-year
project funded by the US Department of
Agriculture which has focused on
household interviews of immigrants in
rural settings in Missouri. He highlighted
the absence of information and the need
to collect more data on immigration and
integration topics.

Ms. Williamson made the important point that there is a


need for researchers and practitioners to work together in
order to determine what metrics to use in order to design
future research projects. This type of focused collaboration
could lead to the designing of research projects that would
eventually help us evaluate what are the most effective
types of welcoming initiatives being conducted throughout
the country.

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 21


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

State Initiatives Strategy Session


September 30, 2011 The greatest accomplishment of the Illinois New
Americans Initiative is the We Want to Learn English
Moderator: Dr. Nicholas V. Montalto, President, Diversity Program. The program has, however, been underfunded.
Dynamics Lack of funds is a problem that has plagued the Illinois
initiative, and it has also struggled under a change in
Panelists: Lisa Thakker, New Americans Policy Project political leadership. An important lesson learned in the
Coordinator, ICIRR; Westy Egmont, President, Association of five years since the initiative was launched is the
New Americans; Suman Raghunathan, Immigrant Policy importance of having everyone at the table. Because the
Specialist, Progressive States Network; Eliza Leighton, Director initiative is a public-private partnership, it has benefitted
of Strategic Initiatives, CASA de Maryland from having significant buy-in. They have learned,
however, that it would be helpful to include receiving
Summary: Carrie McCabe, Tufts University
communities in the discussion as well, since it can be
difficult to gain momentum without the support of the local
communities most affected by an influx of immigrant
States’ role in building a national integration agenda populations.
This strategy session was a reflection on a preliminary
assessment of integration initiatives conducted on the state Massachusetts New Americans Agenda
level in five states. Following the lead of Illinois, which Panelist: Westy Egmont, Co-Chair, Governor’s Advisory
launched the first state initiative in 2005, Massachusetts, Council for Refugees and Immigrants
Maryland, New Jersey and Washington have each
launched their own integration initiatives. The purpose of The Massachusetts New Americans Agenda was launched
the strategy session was to provide the states with an in 2008 following a New Americans Executive Order. The
opportunity to share their successes, challenges and Executive Order revitalized the Governor’s Advisory
lessons learned for the benefit of other states contemplating Council (GAC) for Refugees and Immigrants and
such an initiative. The strategy session also served as a established a partnership between the GAC, the
forum for states to discuss how the current political climate Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants (MORI)
might affect the future of such initiatives. and the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy
Coalition (MIRA Coalition). These groups worked together
Representatives from three states (Illinois, Massachusetts to develop 130 recommendations related to immigrant
and Maryland) participated in the panel, while a integration, which were presented to the Governor. The
representative from the New Jersey coalition contributed to recommendations were based on information gathered at
the discussion from the audience. The final panelist was public meetings as well as existing research and policy
Suman Raghunathan from the Progressive States Network, meetings. The public meetings allowed the Massachusetts
who offered some helpful ideas for working with state initiative to engage communities as much as possible in
legislators to craft pro-immigrant policies. the process so that the resulting recommendations were
based on evidence from the communities themselves. The
Illinois New Americans Initiative next phase involved working with other state offices and
Panelist: Lisa Thakker, New Americans Policy Project agencies to devise an action agenda for implementing the
Coordinator, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee recommendations. The initiative is currently in the
Rights implementation phase.

A recipient of the Migration Policy Institute’s 2010 E One lesson learned throughout the process in
Pluribus Unum Prize for immigrant integration initiatives, Massachusetts is the importance of having the attention of
the Illinois New Americans Initiative is a public-private the Governor, whose commitment to the initiative was
partnership between the Illinois Department of Human essential. A second lesson learned is the value of having
Services (DHS) and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and labor already in place. The Massachusetts initiative was
Refugee Rights (ICIRR). Illinois was the first state to make able to limit costs to the state by utilizing staff already
immigrant integration a strategic priority with the signing of working at participating organizations. With some outside
a New Americans Executive Order in 2005. This enabled funding, they were able to support a staff person working
ICIRR, which had been engaged in integration work but within MIRA Coalition. This was very appealing to the
lacked a comprehensive plan for the provision of state.
integration services, to take its integration work to the next
level.

22! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010
2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary Report

New Americans Citizenship Project of Maryland citizenship promotion or English language acquisition,
Panelist: Eliza Leighton, Director of Strategic Initiatives, for example, can bring to a state. In the end, it must be
CASA de Maryland a positive sum game, and any programs that drain state
resources will not be popular, particularly in the current
Inspired by what was happening in Illinois, the Maryland political climate.
New Americans Partnership (MNAP), a coalition of 35 With limited funding becoming a serious obstacle in all
organizations, was established to increase coordination

states, it is a good idea to look at alternative sources of
among agencies working to promote citizenship funding. The AmeriCorps program in Maryland is the
acquisition among eligible immigrants. Following an perfect example of such a strategy.
Executive Order, MNAP launched the New Americans
Citizenship Project in 2009 to build the capacity of • The policy window for such initiatives might be closing,
organizations offering citizenship programs. Because there as the political climate has changed since these
was no funding supporting the Project, they decided to Executive Orders were issued. It might be helpful in
utilize AmeriCorps volunteers. The volunteers are placed other states to focus on more roundabout legislation,
at sites throughout Maryland to provide one-on-one rather than a statewide initiative, which might be a more
assistance with naturalization applications. A loan difficult sell.
program has also been established to assist immigrants
• In states where such initiatives have not taken hold, it
with the costs of applying, since this was a significant
might be helpful to work with faith-based groups. This
challenge identified in a baseline assessment.
is particularly true in the South, where faith-based
groups have a high degree of influence.
Although the Project is successfully addressing the needs
identified by MNAP – and is doing so without using state • In states where the climate is not conducive to
funds – they have realized that they might have benefitted launching such an initiative, an important first step that
from a more grassroots effort to identify action plans. They could lay the groundwork for a future effort is to build a
also regret not incorporating a monitoring plan so that they coalition of organizations. A coalition with unlikely
would have a process for incorporating changes along the partners could be particularly helpful in this type of
way. effort, since broad support is essential. Public-private
partnerships have proven particularly effective.
Discussion: Suggestions for the Future
• A factor to consider when building a coalition is the
The states with initiatives in place have benefitted from degree to which it includes the community. While
• building a coalition with business leaders can be
an initial research and assessment phase.
Implementation plans should be based on evidence beneficial for fostering cross-aisle support when
gathered within communities so that programs align building momentum for the movement, it may prove
with the needs of the communities themselves. In difficult during the implementation phase if the effort
addition, implementation agendas should include does not have the support of community-based groups.
monitoring plans. This is a balancing act that states should consider.

• State initiatives and efforts to craft policy in state


legislatures can only benefit from bipartisan
support. In Massachusetts, for example, the GAC
is a bipartisan effort. This has helped cement the
New Americans Agenda as an initiative that will
likely hold up to party politics.

• A critical factor in the success of these initiatives is


buy-in from the governor. Each of these
initiatives has relied on the support of the
governor for initial momentum, and those that
have experienced changes in leadership have
struggled (i.e. Illinois and New Jersey).

• It is also helpful to establish a permanent body to


monitor the progress of state initiatives and ensure
that recommendations are implemented. The
initiatives in Illinois and Washington are less
institutionalized, and this could be problematic.

• The economics of these initiatives are important.


It is critical to establish the economic benefits that

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 23


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

The New American Vote


October 1, 2010 process which requires a substantial fee. Lack of financial
resources is a significant barrier that prevents many
Moderator: Tova Wang, Senior Democracy Fellow, Demo
immigrants from obtaining citizenship and therefore the
Panelists: Ron Hayduk, Professor of Political Science, City right to vote. Additional barriers detrimental to the voter
University of New York; George Pillsbury, Founder & Managing turnout of naturalized citizens include discrimination the
Director, Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network; Miriam Stein,
lack of uniformity in the voter registration process (Hayduk,
Author of "Make Your Voice Matter with Lawmakers"; Anna
Lucia Stifano, Director of Advocacy, ¿Oíste?; Phillsbury, Stein, Lucia Stifano & Wang, 2010). In spite of
these challenges research has continuously maintained, the
Summary : Venera Bekteshi, MSW MPA MA, PhD candidate, longer immigrants are in the country, commonly after ten
Boston College
years, the more likely they are to register to vote (Wang,
2010).
People who are likely to vote are likely to read more news,
be more informed about issues and become more involved The relationship between immigrant communities and
in their communities (Phillsbury, 2010). Unfortunately, politicians represents a different challenge to the civic
however, the voter turnout in the United States, in general, engagement of naturalized individuals. Political candidates
but especially among naturalized communities remains are more likely to pursue the votes of populations they are
low. Although voting among some of the minorities such as sure can register and which they can easily communicate
African-Americans has increased in the last decade, a 10 with, often excluding immigrant communities. Language
percent difference in the voter turnout between the barriers prevent candidates from clearly communicating
naturalized and native voters (56% vs. 66% respectively) their political agendas and expressing effectively their
persists. Inter-state statistics vary and in some states such as plans to positively impact this population.
Alabama and Louisiana, the discrepancy in voting between
the nationals and naturalized citizens is even higher at Fortunately there are many ways to address these barriers.
60% vs. 15% and 29% vs. 72%, respectively (Hayduk, Working with CIS to modify the government’s role in
Phillsbury, Stein, Lucia Stifano & Wang, 2010). Naturalized registering citizens to vote might bring results. Encouraging
in this paper defines first generation immigrants who have non-profit organizations and political parties to play a
obtained the US citizenship by way of naturalization more active role in this issue and suggesting that fellow US
process. Immigrants refer to both, naturalized and un- citizens take on a proactive role to encourage immigrants
naturalized first or second generation foreign-borns. to become politically active, could be effective strategies.
Streamlining the voter registration process to make it easier
Socio-economic factors play a direct and indirect role in for naturalized citizens to vote might be another solution.
the low voter-turnout among naturalized citizens. To be For example, the CIS can take on the responsibility of
able to vote, immigrants must go through the naturalization providing voter registration materials to public assistance
agencies; and every candidate
who passes the citizenship test
can be given the option to
register to vote immediately.
Public forums organized for
political candidates
emphasizing the significance
of political mobilization of
immigrants particularly in
communities with high
immigrant populations could
be a valuable tool to increase
voter turnout. Non-profits,
governments, corporations
and other stakeholders can
also collaborate on instituting
awareness enhancing
campaigns designed to help
naturalized citizens
understand the value of their
vote and build their civic

24! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010
2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary Report

knowledge. Currently it takes 20 years for


naturalized immigrants to reach parity in voting
turnout with the native born population. Such an
awareness raising campaigns may assist in
shortening this time-frame. (Hayduk, Phillsbury,
Stein, Lucia Stifano& Wang, 2010)

Non-profit organizations could become involved in


the design of an awareness raising campaign that
can educate naturalized citizens about the
importance and the process of voting. Specifically,
nonprofit staff can be trained in basic information
about voting and importance of voting so that they
may be helpful when interested naturalized
citizens approach them, and organizations can
hold election Day celebrations with small parties
or gatherings. This day can according to Tova
Wang “be turned into a treat day for its political
importance. Election Day can be treated as a time to
celebrate democracy.” On the other hand, non-profits must Non-naturalized Latinos can also be involved in voting
be mindful of constraints imposed on them from funding process. Although they may not vote, they can join
sources and the IRS, which requires political activity nonprofit organizations and be a community voice in
among nonprofits to be strictly non-partisan (Wang, 2010). attempting to enhance voting among their naturalized
Allowable activities include educating the community counterparts.
about voting process and encouraging individuals to vote, The panelists collaborating with the audience addressed
so long as these activities do not intend to support any the low voter turnout among naturalized citizens, barriers
political party over another (Phillsbury, 2010). that prevent voting parity among naturalized citizens and
the native born and highlighted some of the effective
In 2008 about 58 percent of those who voted where not strategies that could address these obstacles. The
reached by traditional campaign methods; but by door to suggestions touched on a various aspects of the problem
door efforts and phone calls (George Pillsbury, Founder & and resulted in the following recommendations:
Managing Director, Nonprofit Voter Engagement Network).
Therefore going door-to-door to register immigrant voters • Institute an evaluation campaign of the existing
and to provide election information might be very strategies in an attempt to attain an empirically based
successful strategy. Offering naturalized voters a ride to knowledge of strengths and weaknesses of these
reduce the distance/geographic gap could also make a big strategies.
difference, as could frequent reminders of the dates of the
election and nonprofit employees and others engaging • Initiate a task-force group comprised of policy makers,
people to vote by conversing with them at points of nonprofits, religious institutions, justice department,
service, classes and training, agency meetings and academics, community organizers and other
community events. Technological outlets could be used stakeholders that work with immigrants on this issue to
more effectively to reach naturalized youth: for example, not only understand the problem better, but to design
texting and emails (Phillsbury, 2010). effective solution implemented through the
commitment of all the parties involved. Accountability
Case Example: can be assured through a quality assurance mechanism.
Often Latinos feel excluded from political life of the • Account for all the discriminatory practices that have
United States. They may invest financially in the United prevented naturalized immigrants from voting and work
States, purchase homes, open and run businesses, but with Department of Justice and Legal Entities.
they live with the dream of one day returning to their
native countries. To effectively reach out to this • Assure the translation of all the voting documents in
appropriate languages spoken by all the immigrant
population, voting related activities must capture
groups who live in the areas.
elements of Latino culture. For example, while straight
up information on legislative process may be informative, • Generate funding for comprehensive and empirical
inspirational activities that can help Latino potential research that provide information on successful voting
voters see the importance of their political involvement in strategies worldwide that could enhance the voting
the United is essential to their political participation. turnout of naturalized citizens in the country.
Once they do get inspired, they get involved passionately
on issues important to them and their community (Lucia,
Stifano, 2010).

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 25


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

Adult Education Transitions


October 1, 2010 same as credit courses, but in other states there is no funding
for non-credit courses.
Moderator: Margie Mc Hugh, Co-Director of the National
Center on Immigrant Integration Policy, Migration Policy
Johan Uvin, Senior Advisor at the Office of Vocational and
Institute
Adult Education of the US Department of Education, told
Panelists: Sandy Goodman, New England College Transitions participants of an almost-complete two-year descriptive
Director, World Education; Julio Rodriguez, Manager of study of adult education transitions by the American
Program Services, Office of Employment and Training, State of Institutes for Research and OVAE. The study finds that
Illinois; Carolyn Teich, Office of Economic Development,
successfully transitioning English Language Learners are
American Association of Community Colleges; Johan Uvin,
Senior Advisor, OVAE, US DOE
diverse ethnically, diverse in their prior L1 experiences, are
able to transfer skills from their L1, are motivated, and have
Summary: Lee Haller, English for New Bostonians clear goals. Johan said there is a great need for research: As
of yet there is no hard evidence from random-assignment
Summary of the issue studies that anything we are doing works. He mentioned two
The demand for adult ESOL has been growing: With articles about adult education transitions:
comprehensive immigration reform, one study showed
there would be a demand for an additional 2.5 billion Zafft, C., Kallenbach, S., & Spohn, J. (2006). Transitioning
instructional hours of ESOL, on top of the current 1.6 adults to college: Adult basic education program models.
billion instructional hours. If the Dream Act passes, many NCSALL Occasional Paper. Cambridge, MA: Harvard
additional youth and adults will enter the ABE/ESOL Graduate School of Education and Mathews-Aydinli, J.
system. Minorities and other nontraditional students are (2006). Supporting Adult English Language Learners'
increasingly the norm in public community college Transitions to Postsecondary Education. Center for Adult
context, but this doesn’t mean colleges are prepared to English Language Acquisition (CAELA) brief.
serve them well.
Promising Practices or Developments: The New England
Carolyn Teich, from the Office of Economic Development College Transitions Network at World Education supports
of the American Association of Community Colleges, ABE staff, programs, and state agencies in establishing and
provided national statistics about community college strengthening ABE-to-college transition services through
students. In 2007, there were 11.8 million students technical assistance, professional development, collegial
enrolled in community college. Of those, 6.8 million were sharing, advocacy and increased visibility for this critical
enrolled in credit classes and 5 million in noncredit. The sector of the adult basic education system. Sandy Goodman,
average age of students was 28. Forty-two percent (42%) Director of the New England College Transition Network,
of community college students were the first in their family presented about “Program Design and Instruction for ESOL
to attend college, and minorities represented forty percent Transitions Learners.” Adult student readiness for college
(40%) of community college students. encompasses a range of factors: Academic readiness and
study skills (self awareness), college knowledge (admissions,
Community Colleges are open enrollment, but students financial aid, navigating forms and processes), career and
need to test into credit-bearing classes. Nationally, eighty education plan (students do better if they have a clear goal),
percent (80%) of students need remediation before they and personal readiness (child care backup plans,
can enroll in credit-bearing classes. Since 2007 almost all transportation, financial issues).
community colleges have experienced double-digit
increases, for various reasons: High school students can’t Sandy listed the following key strategies and practices at
get into the state 4-year school because it is full, or community college ESOL programs, derived from the ESOL
someone in the student’s household has lost a job, or their model in Transitioning Adults to College: Adult Basic
529 plan lost money. These factors have led to an influx of Education Program Models (Zafft, Kallenbach and Spohn,
very bright kids into credit programs, students who 10 2006) and from Passing the Torch: Strategies for Innovation in
years ago wouldn’t have been found in community college, Community College ESL (Chisman, F., and Crandall, J, year 1):
increasing the gap between more-prepared and less-
1. Managed enrollment—make program look more like
prepared students.
college by enrolling by semesters,
Adding to the complexity of the issue is that there are at 2. Modeling college—attendance expectations, syllabus
least 50 different community college systems in the 3. Partnerships—Partnering with post-secondary educational
country, with funding looking very different in different institution, or with employers,
states. For example, Texas funds non-credit courses the 4. Dual enrollment—Some programs have worked out
relationships with colleges so that a student can have

26! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010
2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary Report

access to campus supports or classes while still enrolled


in ABE, Carolyn mentioned a new Community College Consortium,
5. Academic English—Teach terminology, with a website in development.
6. Integrated instruction, Johan Uvin told participants of efforts at the federal level to
7. Career and educational counseling, advance the work around adult ESOL college transitions.
8. Wrap-around supports—back-up plans for barriers such Priorities at OVAE include access to college and career
as child care, pathways, access to effective teachers and methods, and
9. Spanish GED, promoting innovation. There is much to be done to build
10.Extended learning—Practice outside the classroom, stronger linkages with the workforce development system,
including developing performance standards for career
11. Contextualized Instruction—best model out of
pathways, increasing employer engagement, and adding
Washington State, integration of content expertise in a
work/career readiness as a measure. Many states are taking
technical career pathway with English language skills.
action to further adult ESOL transition to college. “Policy
to Performance: Transitioning Adults to Opportunity” a
Julio Rodriguez is the Manager of Program Services at the
many-state initiative, assists states in increasing college and
Illinois Office of Employment and Training. He described
career readiness among low-skilled adults and adult
the “Shifting Gears Initiative” which was an Illinois-based,
learners.
multi-state project to study effective instruction for career
pathways. The focus was how to leverage the two systems Issues for the future:
of education and workforce development. For the state
policymakers, the goal of both ABE and community college • The “Shifting Gears” initiative in Illinois showed a need
is sustainable employment. The state matched funding for supportive services to help adult students navigate
from the Joyce Foundation. through community college and beyond. There was
discussion with the community college board to
Each state is different in what policy looks like on the increase reimbursement for bridge programs versus
ground, which complicates comparisons among states. traditional ABE programs, because of additional costs of
Illinois doesn’t have a centralized community college bridge programs. What does case management mean
system—there are 46 independent colleges, and in Illinois, for the community college system? Who pays for it?
state funding for adult education is almost nonexistent, in
• There are exciting state-based initiatives such as I-BEST.
spite of the fact that 44% of Illinois’s adult population has How can we scale them?
no college at all.
• In many states, community colleges have trouble
The “Shifting Gears” project was a series of pilots which connecting with the Workforce Investment Boards
created a common definition of bridge programs for the (WIBs). Julio suggested that in states without a
state. The common definitions enabled them to use WIA centralized community college system, connection is by
funding at community colleges to support career pathways. individual relationships at the program level. Partners
need to articulate clearly where the handoff occurs and
Julio referred participants to the website of the “Shifting how reimbursement happens. On the WIA side there is
Gears” project, part of the Illinois Community College a lot of frustration about how long things take.
Board website, for additional details and materials: http:// Educators want training to be applicable outside of a
websrvr1.state.il.us/shifting_gears.html. particular narrow job, but training and education are
always secondary to employment in workforce
Carolyn Teich asked the question, “What are great development.
programs, and can we scale them?” She gave Washington
State’s Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training (I- • Every state has the same challenge of negotiating
BEST) as an example. According an I-BEST curriculum relationships among ABE, community colleges, and the
document, that program began as a pilot at 10 community WIB. Who owns these learners, and who’s going to pay
and technical colleges and has since been implemented in for them? Negotiation needs to happen on Federal level.
all 34 colleges in the Washington State Board for • Stackable credentials are new development in
Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) system. The community colleges. Students can go in and out of
program was developed in response to studies performed college, adding to credentials.
by the Washington State Board for Community and
Technical Colleges SBCTC that indicated that students were • MOU’s between a CBO and a college are a lever for
unlikely to complete a long-term basic skills class and then funders, but their formality can hold a partnership back.
successfully transition to college level vocational programs. Teacher quality and effectiveness is an underlying issue.
The I-BEST model challenges the traditional notion that Research shows that the classroom teacher is a strong
students must first complete adult basic education or ESL predictor of success. Strong local leadership is needed to
before moving to college level course work. The I-BEST help programs recruit, identify, and support effective
model pairs ESL or ABE instructors with vocational or teachers.
content area instructors to co-teach college level vocational
courses.

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 27


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

Early Education and Families


October 1, 2010 barriers to early childhood education: Awareness, by going
door to door to inform people of their program;
Moderator: Virginia Zanger
Accessibility, by being strategically located, partnering with
Panelists: Mona Abo Zena, Tufts University; Fred Gitner, public transit to provide bussing, and by being a free
Program Coordinator, Queens Library; Christina Wong, Special program; and Responsiveness, by responding to the needs
Assistant to the Superintendent, San Francisco Unified School of the families. AVANCE provides comprehensive services
District; Donna Cohen-Avery, Associate Commissioner of Field
including a 27-lesson core curriculum, toy making that
Operations, MA Department of Early Education and Care;
builds connections among parents along with being an
Taylor Moreno, Assistant Executive Director, AVANCE-El Paso
educational activity for the students, parenting classes, and
Summary: M. Ross Bloom, MIRA Coalition a home component. They repeat the lessons multiple times
to make sure the ideas get across. Kids that go through
AVANCE outrank their peers on standardized tests, high
This panel discussed early education for immigrant youth school graduation and college entrance. By changing kids
and family involvement in the educational system. Looking and parents, AVANCE changes whole families.
at a variety of programs from across the country, as well as
the relationship between research and practice, the The second speaker was Cristina Wong, the Coordinator
panelists gave a broad-based introduction to the many for English Language Learners in the San Francisco School
issues involved in early education for immigrant families. System. As a policy advocate in the area of language
The chair, Virginia Zanger, began the session by saying that access before taking this position, Wong felt there was
the people speaking represent innovative approaches for always a lack of immigrant parents’ voices, due to a lack of
early education for immigrant families. In 2007, there was organizing in the Asian community, so she started a
a Taskforce on Education for Hispanics, and these speeches parents’ organizing project. After getting training from the
will show how some of those recommendations are put in Bay Area Parent Leadership Network, where they would
practice. later bring parents to become organizers themselves, they
began their organizing. Parents gravitated toward the
The first speaker was Taylor Moreno, the Assistant Director project because it dealt with common ground issues
of AVANCE in El Paso, Texas. She described El Paso as a among the diverse community, such as the difficulties that
large city that is 26% foreign born, which faces challenges immigrant families often face in adjusting to a new society.
including the fact that 45% of young kids are in poverty The organizing project worked with other service-
and there is low education among adults. AVANCE works providing CBO’s, so that once people’s immediate needs
to assure that poverty does not lead to education failure. It were met they asked parents to be involved in the
has 17 sites in public schools serving 1500 people, and advocacy. One issue that parents focused on was language
works on an intergenerational approach to early childhood access, and they started building a network through one to
development and literacy that involves parents and gives one relationships, such that it was the relationships among
them parenting skills. AVANCE focuses on three common parents that kept them coming to meetings despite how
busy they were.

The school system wants parents to be involved within


their own schools, and Wong’s office tries to involve
parents through such programs as the English Learner
Advisory Council, which is a key vehicle of parent
involvement. Often, principals are not able to foster parent
involvement, so that is why they partner with the district to
help parents get involved and give them tools. School
districts need to work to involve parents, and the San
Francisco schools have a District Parent Engagement Plan,
which tries to change the culture of the school site and
make parents true partners in their kids’ education.

Mona Abo-Zena is a researcher at Tufts that focuses on the


role of religion in child development in schools. She began
with the assertion that children are not adults, and asks,
what is the immigrant context for a child? Varying identities
of race, gender, etc., should be taken into context, as well
as developmental, contextual, legal, and individual factors

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that contribute to the lives of immigrant children. She also The last speaker was Donna Cohen-Avery, Associate
noted the issue of acculturative stress, including the “silent Commissioner of Field Operations for the Early Education
period” where children do not speak English yet, different Department of Massachusetts. This was the first department
customs and feeling foreign, financial stability, legal in the country that focused on early education, and is five
standing, discrimination and isolation, loneliness and years old. They are currently developing policies that are
feeling uprooted, and the feeling of being at the margin of pro-English Language Learners.
both worlds at the point of no return. In terms of strategies
for responding to these stressors, Abo-Zena highlighted the Their department works with a mixed delivery system of
importance of developing bi-cultural competencies in early education that includes family childcare, which is a
education, individual mentors, community and social popular form of childcare that is run out of people’s private
support, and integrating past, present, and future (or, homes. However, the department has faced challenges in
bringing order to the immigrant child’s re-ordered
natural world).

She emphasized the intersectionality of


developmental contexts, including race,
ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, religion,
and age. She particularly noted that it is
necessary to measure “economic need” in a
more effective way, taking into account the
different on-ramps for today’s immigrants
(whether foreign students or unskilled laborers)
and the dual economic reference systems that
immigrant inhabit, such as the issue of
remittances back to the home country. Another
important need is for truly accessible services
that incorporate economic, cultural, social, and
linguistic accessibility while enforcing standards
of cultural competence and anti-bias
programming. Lastly, she highlighted the
importance of meaningful parent engagement,
emphasizing the role of home as a child’s first
school, the level of ease for parents to come to
school, teaching immigrants how to be involved at school, licensing this type of childcare which is often provided
giving early education credentials for immigrant parents, through informal, unlicensed providers, particularly in
and partnering with other organizations. immigrant communities like the Brazilian community of
Framingham, MA. The department tried to license these
The fourth speaker was Fred Gitner, the Assistant Director providers, but they had no Portuguese speaking licensors.
for the New Americans Program at the Queens Library. This
library system serves an extremely diverse population in The local state representative from Framingham was
Queens County, NY. They have three models. The first is listening to the Brazilian community, which was concerned
the school-linked program, which partners with a with child care, and she convened the discussion between
particular elementary school and uses technology as a tool the community and the Early Education department.
in literacy education. The second is the Pre-K ESOL Eventually it was decided that the community would focus
program, which provides 12-week classes for families so on licensing these family childcare providers. The
that they do interactive activities together as a family. The department did a training in Portuguese for the community
third is Literacy Zone, which is a statewide program in which many attended. They found that ministers were a
New York that is meant to close the achievement gap by key entry into the community. Overall, it was successful,
meeting literacy needs from birth to adult. This also but it was tough to license a lot of these providers because
features Welcome Centers that link new immigrants to of the standard of the facilities and the documentation
services, and the Ravenswood Library in Queens County is status of the childcare providers.
a Welcome Center Annex. Families participate 12 hours a
One audience member asked the panel how to deal with
week, and the program supports families to reach
special needs/developmental delay issues with parents
educational and economic sustainability. The curriculum
from different cultures. Taylor Moreno said that AVANCE
also integrates parents’ knowledge, experience, and skills
works with specialists who come to AVANCE and parents
into the curriculum to be a good way for kids to learn more
are more receptive because they are present at the program
about their parents. He provided tips including: promote
while the specialist is working with their child. Cristina
enriching home literacy, and build capacity of families to
Wong added that the more that special education becomes
interact.
a rallying point for parents, and more parents are educated
about special needs, the stigma goes down.

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 29


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

Expanding Adult ESOL


Increasing the Quantity and Quality of Adult ESOL and civic leaders that calls for a high-quality, public-
Instruction private ESOL system that serves immigrants, businesses,
and the Commonwealth. English Works promotes
Sept. 30, 2010 business investment in ESOL, policy advocacy, and
capacity development. The Campaign is supported by
Moderator: Lisa Soricone, Research & Evaluation Analyst,
Commonwealth Corporation
nearly 70 organizations, an 11-member Leadership
Circle, and a growing Mayor's Circle.
Panelists: Claudia Green, Executive Director, English for New
Bostonians; Betsy McKay, Director of Bilingual Leadership, Connie Nelson, Director, Massachusetts Workers Education
McDonald's Corporation; Connie Nelson, Director, Roundtable spoke next. The MA Workers Education
Massachusetts Workers Education Roundtable; Johan Uvin, Roundtable is a network of worker education programs
Senior Advisor, Office of Vocational & Adult Education, US dedicated to promoting partnerships of employers, unions
Department of Education and educators that provide high quality education as well
Summary: David Estella, MIRA Coalition
as training for Massachusetts union members.  Programs
that develop partnerships with employers, unions, learners
Claudia Green, Executive Director, English for New and educators are programs that succeed.
Bostonians, discussed Career Advancement, Best Practices
The funding of workplace programs comes either from
Analyses. English for New Bostonians provides access to
private or public sources. The private sources can be funds
high quality ESOL through grants, professional
from joint labor-management partnerships. The state of
development, innovation and expanding resources. This
Massachusetts last year released the MA Learn at Work
can be done through:
Program, a fund dedicated for workplace ESOL which
1. Grants: there’s a wait list of 16,000 people in the state. serves as a great public resource for workplace programs.
It’s a fast growing immigrant population and these The MA Workers Education Roundtable also has a quality
learners are workers with families. The grants build focus.
capacity in different agencies, ESOL providers,
2. Capacity development: it’s done through trainings and These are some of the indicators of quality for
technical assistance to the ESOL methods used, learner workplace programs:
assessment, technology, transitions and visits to 1. Intensity of instruction: it’s hard to bargain with
programs, employers and there are logistical issues.
3. Innovation: ENB has innovated with its distance learning
model and the English at Work Capacity Building 2. Adequate and regular classroom space.
Initiative that provides training for providers looking to 3. Collaborative team oversight: labor and management
partner with businesses, need to oversee program, problem solve, and check
4. Expanding resources: ENB works to increase state, attendance.
federal and private funding through the English Works
4. Learning needs analysis: how will the learning program
Campaign, a coalition of business, labor, community
help the workplace?
5. Participation has to be voluntary.
6. Balance of quality and quantity: funds sometimes focus
more on quantity.
7. Teachers need to be prepared. There needs to be
capacity building for workplace environment and
contextualized curriculum.
8. Predictable funding.
9. Team governance.
10.Professional and curriculum development.

Betsy McKay, Director of Bilingual Leadership,


McDonald's Corporation discussed that the McDonald’s
Corporation has a bilingual leadership development
program in 22 sites in the US. It’s beneficial for the
corporation, for the restaurants and for the individuals. The
program has three courses in ESOL in a series with

30! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010
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placement guide. It aligns with the manager program and What does OVAE know in regards to workplace
is contextualized, focusing on what they need to run a education:
shift, and can apply what they learn immediately. The
classes run for five hours a week and range from 8 to 22 1. Employers pay for English proficiency.
weeks. They are small classes and provide a strong bond 2. Integrated models produce better labor market results.
between student and teachers.
3. Bringing the outside in: using the context of peoples’
McDonald’s blended approach address the real needs. lives makes greater returns. However, OVAE does not
There are also virtual classes that address students know much about the effectiveness of the different
individually. There has been a good retention rate of 87 approaches for the different populations.
percent, 46 instructors from local community colleges and
a steady increase in number of students. President Obama’s strategic vision includes: (i) 8.2 percent
more graduates from community colleges; (ii) at least one
Johan Uvin, Senior Advisor, Office of Vocational & Adult year of higher education for every American, and (iii)
Education, US Department of Education, Office of accelerated achievement. OVAE’s priorities are: (i) work
Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) administers, towards president’s goal, (ii) effective teachers, (iii) college
coordinates programs that are related to adult education and career pathways, and (iv) learning opportunities on
and literacy, career and technical education, and demand – equitable access.
community colleges. It provides adult education funding to
states and partners with other federal agencies to meet its In order to achieve these goals, OVAE is focusing on
goals. promoting innovation and integration. OVAE is also
providing resources to develop ideas, test them and gather
evidence.

Fundraising Initiatives
Fundraising Initiatives for Immigrant Integration: greater change. Focusing on coalitions allows for small
Funders’ Perspectives organizations to join their efforts together into a stronger
force, and lessens duplication of small-scale efforts.
Oct. 1, 2010 Foundations have also become increasingly interested in
state coalitions because it is difficult to push for change at
Moderator: Geri Mannion, Carnegie Corporation of New York
the national level. National foundations especially are
Panelists: Myron Miller, Herman and Frieda L. Miller interested in broader policy change, not geographically-
Foundation; Suzette Brooks Masters, J. M. Kaplan Foundation; focused service organizations.
Talya Bosch, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility,
Western Union Foundation; Damian Thorman, National Program Funders also have an interest in changing the public’s
Officer, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation views on integration. By making integration a positive,
Summary:  Rachel Bernard, MIRA Coalition community experience, we can set the stage for larger
change. The E Pluribus Unum Prizes are a great example
This seminar focused on the Immigrant Integration of this type of effort. This is a collaborative effort between
initiatives of foundations; it provided an inside view of the JM Kaplan Fund and the Migration Policy Institute that
funders’ concerns and priorities. awards outstanding integration initiatives. This type of
program not only rewards great integration programs, but
Moving forward, integration efforts are being funded also positively publicizes immigrant integration.
through coalitions and interfaith organizations more and
more. Foundations are more likely to invest in a network Looking forward, funders want to see more knowledge
of organizations as opposed to one. This strategy optimizes sharing between organizations. This will allow for a more
the chances of a successful program. By supporting efficient, cohesive, and cooperative effort in support of
coalitions, advocacy, and organizing, there is a greater integration. There is also a desire to see the immigration
opportunity to build bridges between different segments of reform movement and integration efforts take ideas from
the community. Collaborative efforts are able to cut across other social movements and incorporate these successful
demographic lines, and engage larger groups to spur strategies. Integration advocates can also ally ourselves

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 31


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

with other social change movements with common is professional re-credentialing. This is an important issue
concerns. For example, they can partner with advocates that has not yet coalesced into a field. A small investment
for better schools, workers’ rights, adult education, and so in this area may make a large difference in integrating
forth. This in itself is an act of integration. This will change immigrants more fully economically and socially.
the perspective from immigrants v. native-born to
immigrants, parents, and concerned community members The recession has also made a difference for funders.
v. policies. Though their endowments may still be high, some have lost
significant amounts. Carnegie for example, lost 1 billion
There are many different reasons funders are interested in out of 3 billion dollars in their endowment. While this is
immigrant integration. Of course, there are dedicated still an extraordinary amount, they have had to scale back
foundations that have an interest in immigrant rights, funding to keep their programming on track. What this all
human rights, and so forth. Economic inclusion of means is that funders want to get the best results for the
immigrants however, cannot be underestimated as a least amount of investment. This does not necessitate
motivating factor. Corporate foundations, Western Union weaker programs; instead we can see this as an
for example, are interested in empowering their consumers opportunity to use creative solutions for social injustice
economically, and therefore have a strategic interest in issues. That being said, it is very dangerous for an
furthering immigrant integration. Businesses can also organization to be entirely dependent on grants, especially
support integration through providing services to workers in this economic climate. In the nonprofit world,
and the community, such as ESL programs and Family individual sponsorships support 80% of programs, while
Scholarships. These efforts strengthen workers skills and foundations and corporations each account for 10%. A
communities. The bottom line for these corporate funders varied approach to development is necessary to ensure an
is that immigrants are an important source of economic organization’s survival.
growth in this country, and it is in their best interest to
support integration and tap into this market. As anti-immigrant sentiment grows across the nation,
integration meets steeper challenges. Many immigrants are
How exactly foundations make decisions can often be undocumented or part of a mixed-status household. It is of
unclear. A decision-maker at the foundation has personal course difficult to integrate these immigrants into American
interests, but is largely swayed by the interests of the board. society when they cannot drive a car, find living wages,
Personal relationships are also vital in securing funding. and find education funding. The main challenge to
Foundations may strategically select grantees and work integration lies in Federal and State policies. There must be
with them to determine the gaps in integration initiatives a commitment to social change, strategic communications,
and what areas to focus on, rather than take unsolicited and building capacity in the field.
proposals. One example of a gap in integration practices

Financial Access
Financial Access: Investments of New Americans in financial institutions that can help them save money, buy
mainstream financial institutions homes, access credit, start businesses and build wealth.
Strategies that help immigrants participate fully in the
September 30, 2010 financial mainstream, as well as harness the global
Moderator: Deyanira Del Río, Neighborhood Economic
business and investment activities many immigrants
Development Advocacy Project already engage in, improve their prospects for full social
Panelists: Jessica Anders, Program Manager, Success and economic integration. This benefits not just
Measures, NeighborWorks America; Gwendy Brown, Saving immigrants, but all residents of communities where they
for Citizenship Program Director, Opportunity Fund; John live.
Herrera, Board Chair, Latino Cooperative Credit Union; Tony
Tapia, Senior Program Director, Western Union Foundation This session will address market opportunities to equitably
Summary: Samuel Tsoi, MIRA Coalition serve immigrant communities, making services immigrants
demand available, preventing predatory practices,
Access to fair, affordable financial products and services is reaching out in new immigrant neighborhoods and to the
closely linked to economic prosperity, especially among second generation, and leveraging high rates of
low- and moderate- income communities. The success of employment and financial activity among immigrant
today’s immigrants depends on their access to mainstream populations.

32! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010
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Presenters representing community development With access to mainstream financial institutions,


organizations, credit unions, and remittance services giant immigrants with ITINs can now apply for IRAs, mortgages,
Western Union addressed ways to limit barriers for deposit services, and a wider range of options for services
Immigrants’ financial inclusion and different strategies to such as remittances, online/phone banking, financial
higher access to financial services that are fair affordable education, and low-cost money orders. The Latino
and equitable. Community Credit Union now boasts less than 1%
delinquency rate for loan repayments.
There is currently very little information about what is
available for immigrants in this aspect of finance Outside of the credit union movement, the banking
investment. Rather, there are many myths, lies, and industry has recognized the immigrant purchasing power
misinformation that leads to the disenfranchisement of a and high savings rate, and need for safe and convenient
population from mainstream financial institutions, more remittance services. One of the most successful businesses
immigrants fallen victim to predatory practices. is Western Union, which has now dominated the billlon-
dollar remittance transfer market.
The session began with these three facts:
Micro-lending and Savings
• A social security number is not required to open a bank
account. ITINs, voter registration cards, foreign Opportunity Fund of San Jose, California, offers Individual
consulates documents are all acceptable forms of Development Accounts (IDAs), which includes a match-
identification. savings program and development of financial skills to
focus on asset building. It teaches the customer to engage
• Under the US Patriot act, banks’ confidentiality
regarding immigration status was protected; banks are in long-term planning around life changes such as
not required to know the immigration statuses of marriage, children, home-buying, higher education, and
customers. retirement. Opportunity Fund IDAs offer match-savings
through grants, and has a unique Savings for Citizenship
• Worldwide remittances in 2009 was 316 billion, via program – which merges financial access with immigrant
money transmitters such as Western Union, but also rights and naturalization, recognizing US citizenship is an
“underground” via currier. asset for the individual, the cost for applying for
citizenship can be prohibitive (over $600 per application),
Credit Unions and encouraging naturalization furthers immigrants’
Immigrants come here mainly for two reasons – political contribution as full citizens.
freedom and/or economic opportunity. The case for
economic integration is strong, and usually not-politicized. Started 18 months ago, the Saving for Citizenship program
The Latino Community Credit Union, one the largest now has reached 500 immigrants, with over a hundred
institutions serving immigrants of its kind, started as a active accounts saving and going through the
response to the high rates of crime against migrant workers naturalization process from applying, to civics education,
in North Carolina. Unbanked migrant workers became to interviewing. These initiatives expose the disconnect
walking ATMs, and were targets of robbery. The credit that often exists between the community and legal and
union has now grown to 10 banks, with $100 million in financial institutions. It also proves that a small amount of
assets among 53,000 members which represent 10,000 grant funding can make real strides in urging qualified
families. The majority of members are recent arriving low- LPRs towards gaining citizenship.
skilled workers. Financial education programs have also
successfully trained hundreds of immigrants.

The development of the Individual Tax Identification


Number (ITIN) by the IRS in 1996 has opened doors for
many immigrants. The ITIN allows immigrants to pay taxes
with the guarantee of confidentiality and restricting sharing
of information with other government agencies, namely
the Department of Homeland Security. This then allows
immigrants access to financial tools (and banks can market
to this unbanked population), enabling them to develop
credit history, financial education, money management,
economic development, wealth creation.

The alternative, unfortunately, are many predatory loans.


These unscrupulous businesses require exorbitant down
payments, and are often operated by immigrants to exploit
fellow immigrants.

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 33


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

NGOs With partnership with USAID, this program has created


The Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy jobs in rural communities – a unique partnership between
Project (NEDAP), based in New York City, promotes the traditional foreign aid apparatus with the marketplace.
financial justice in low-income communities and For example, it also supports African diaspora community
communities of color. It provides education programs for in America to support Sub-Saharan African communities
community-based organizations on how the financial through a competitive RFP process. It received over 500
services system is structured and its implications for proposals for capital to start businesses. Currently, 14
individuals and communities, emphasizing on people's businesses have received over $100,000.
rights and ways to avoid fringe and predatory banking (www.diasporamarketplace.org)
services that predominate in lower income communities
and immigrant communities. Challenges Ahead
How can you replicate the success of immigrant credit
NEDAP leads the Immigrant Financial Justice network, unions in other parts of the country?
which provides education, organizing support and legal
assistance resources. It works to eliminate barriers in the • National federation of community credit unions, Latino
banking system, promote equitable financial services Community Credit Union as model and source of
access, and press for corporate accountability and information.
community reinvestment by banks, money transmitters and • The bedrock for every credit union: trust.
other financial institutions. NEDAP also advocates for • It doesn’t take a large amount of capital. LCCU started
community development financial institutions (CDFIs), with bake-sale of $77.
including loan funds and credit unions, serving immigrant • Start with outreach with labor unions and families.
communities.
What’s the role for philanthropy? What are some of the
Success Measures, an initiative of NeighborWorks cultural attitudes about money which you need to address
America, which receives part of its funding via a line item in Savings for Citizenship?
in the congressional budget, provides financial education
• Opportunity Fund organizes annual citizenship day to
and evaluation. As a response to donor fatigue around the
raise awareness.
popular financial education movement, evaluation on the
impact and results becomes critical. This also dovetails on • Via word-of-mouth.
the increasing awareness around affordable housing and • Cultural competency – savers already have answers -
environmental justice issues in urban neighborhoods, to the service is just a opportunity to share what you
foster connections between housing, community and know, learn about the rules, continue improving English
people. for citizenship and financial terms.
• Requests from other parts of the country to replicate
Early evaluations suggest that more intentional and model.
meaningful partnerships between banks and community-
based organizations are beneficial to increasing financial What’s the impact of the global economic crisis on
literacy. So far, there is a working group of 90 people who economic integration and microfinance?
were practitioners in financial counseling and program • Diminishing remittances: US-around the world,
evaluation. Some of the important research that needs to particularly in the Philippines.
be heard are the reasons for bad financial decisions, and • People still send money home – even during the worst
the barriers that need to be overcome. One-hour surveys part of the recession.
were conducted to delve into the exploration of family
• Despite issues – US is still far ahead for integrating
history and attitudes about financial habits, sharing, what
immigrants, at times we might feel defeated, so much
is “enough,” community and the role of faith.
still to be shared with best practices.
Some of the findings include the importance of having • Micro-finance movement in US quite established, but
choices in the tools that match with outcomes clients we just haven’t called it as such.
desire and not just implementing cookie-cutter programs. • Stamping out predatory lending still a challenge
• Some undocumented families were swept up by
Private Sector & Philanthropy predatory lenders, encouraged to borrow family SS#,
The leader in the financial services for immigrants, 2-fixed/28-flex interest mortgages as high as 18%.
Western Union, now has over 4000 locations worldwide • Since they use inaccurate SS#s, they are considered
in 20 countries. Western Union Foundation has recently fraudulent, which makes recourse next to impossible.
launched a diaspora development project that supports • We need to learn and leverage existing social networks
NGOs, immigrant entrepreneurs, with a matching program among immigrants.
to support economic development projects in countries
• Immigrants are overall recession-proof from the
like Mexico.
hardships which they have endured in their native
country and new country. Immigrants know how to
deal with crises, and how to survive.

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2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary Report

Public Safety
September 30, 2010 and the most densely populated city in the state as well as
the city with the highest percentage of foreign-born. One
Moderator: Arizona State Rep. Kyrsten Sinema
question facing his department is, what do we do about
Panelists: Cynthia Buiza, Director of Policy & Advocacy, immigration law? Can we enforce it? For his department,
Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights of L.A.; Julliette Kayyem, the answer is no, because we don’t have jurisdiction.
Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs, US
Department of Homeland Security; Police Chief Brian A. Kyes,
When he became Chief, he had meetings with the
Chelsea MA
community based organizations to figure out what would
Summary:   M. Ross Bloom, MIRA Coalition be the best idea of how to deal with immigration law.
Some wanted 100% hands-off approach, but he sometimes
collaborates with ICE if someone commits a violent crime
This session addressed public safety issues. Cynthia Buiza, and is shown to be undocumented—for this, he has four
Director of Policy & Advocacy, Coalition of Humane criteria that he follows to determine if he should bring in
Immigrant Rights of L.A., a regional organization that ICE. Sometimes ICE doesn’t like their approach, but they
organizes different immigrant constituencies, framed the do work together and have a relationship. If ICE comes to
session by asking, why is public safety critical to immigrant Chelsea to enforce on an administrative cause, they tell
integration? She went on to explain that if immigrants do Chelsea Police and the police can say if the person in
not feel safe, they will not feel engaged, but rather scared, question is a victim or witness in an ongoing crime. In
and remain removed from the broader community. such cases, ICE generally desists from pursuing this case.
But if they are not a victim or witness, ICE still can enforce
Ms. Buiza also raised other issues around safety including their laws, but the Chelsea Police does not help or get
the fear of reporting abuse due to documentation status. involved. This is unlike other police departments, but Chief
She argued that it is critical to face the public safety issue Kyes believes that if the police department did get involved
head on because recently, there has been a large amount and help out ICE in such cases, it would send a message to
of anti-immigrant legislation on the state and local level, the community that these two forces are one and the same.
and the Department of Justice has reinforced the idea that An individual’s origin is not of concern to the Chelsea PD,
local authorities can enforce immigration laws. This has led but if someone commits a crime then they will use any
to an increase of the number of immigrants in the law possible means to remove them from the community.
enforcement system, arrests, etc. These changes have made
immigrants hesitant to even enter government buildings, The Chair, Arizona State Representative Kyrsten Sinema,
presenting a dilemma to immigrant rights advocates. followed with an explanation of three important ICE
However, the federal government has never stated that programs that are currently impacting Public Safety across
local law enforcement has jurisdiction on immigration the country—changed federal policy on workplace raids,
issues. Secure Communities, and 287G.

Because immigrants are often fearful of reporting crimes to With regard to the workplace raids policy, she remarked
law enforcement, organizations are stepping in to figure that Janet Napolitano, the head of the Department of
out how to address these issues absent of government Homeland Security (and also former Arizona governor),
responses. This includes working with law enforcement changed the official policy so that there will be no
and building dynamic relationships to address law workplace raids. During the Bush era, this was the modus
enforcement issues, such as self-policing among certain operandi of immigration enforcement, and was very showy
sectors, as well as the Community Policing Academy, but included many drawbacks including the roundup of
which is a collaboration between the LAPD and nonprofits unintended people such as legal residents, etc., doesn’t
which boosts information sharing. Statewide coalitions also capture many criminal aliens, and causes a lot of concerns
have a role in trying to educate law enforcement and in the community, making entire parts of the community
government on the impact of certain policies, as well as shut down due to fear. New strategies include finding out
advocacy for and against policies like Secure Communities where the undocumented workers are, and talking with the
(see below). There is a critical link between public safety owners, which often leads to mass layoffs. This often just
and immigrant integration which needs to be looked at results in people moving to different jobs or having a time
closely. of unemployment, causing similar issues of disruption in
the community.
Brian Kyes, Chief of Police for the City of Chelsea,
Massachusetts, shared a law enforcement perspective on Rep. Sinema also explained Secure Communities, which
the issues. Chelsea is a city of 50,000 people, 75% Latino has been implemented under the Department of Homeland

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 35


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

Security and collaborates efforts between ICE and local law in a jail, such that anyone who gets booked gets
enforcement through information sharing. It is an opt in/opt interrogated regarding their immigration status, leading to
out program for the local law enforcement which ICE involvement. In this program, there is a tension
determines the amount of data that the local police will between local police’s ability to balance the relationship
transfer to DHS. A police agency gathers data on every with ICE through 287G while also following best practices
person it comes into contact with; a community that is in with regards to community policing, etc.
the Secure Communities program transfers all of that data
to ICE who can match it with their data and go through Rep. Sinema briefly discussed the SB1070 law in Arizona,
immigrant removal processes. noting one aspect of the law in particular which is that if
police have to inquire about the immigration status of
There are four levels of people that law enforcement comes everyone they interact with, then it runs up against federal
into contact with: Level 3 is for people who commit programs like U-Visas for victims of domestic violence.
serious crimes; Level 2 is for people who commit petty or
less serious crimes; Level 1 is for civil citations (such as One audience member asked how people outside the
traffic violations); and there is a fourth level, a Level None/ policy world can impact what law enforcement does
No Charges, which is for those who have had no formal regarding 287G, etc. Chief Kyes remarked that in a smaller
interaction with the criminal system. This last level city, it is possible for him to sit down with everyone, but
includes people who get taken along with people who are that it is also good to get organized as a citizens’ group and
in Level 1, 2, or 3, such as passengers in the same vehicle. approach the police.
These people have no charges, but their information gets
sent to ICE just like someone who commits a crime, and, Another asked about the issues of granting undocumented
for instance, in Napa County, CA, the number of “No immigrants drivers’ licenses. Chief Kyes remarked that they
should be able to have them because they
need to get to work like everyone else.
Rep. Sinema said that in Arizona, all
drivers are required to have insurance, so
the state should make it mandatory for all
people driving on the roads to have ID.
For many, the drivers’ license is the only
form of ID, everyone should have them so
that the government knows who and
where they are. Ms. Buiza said that in
California, there is general consensus that
granting drivers’ licenses is good policy,
but it dies in the state assembly due to
politics.

Another question asked Chief Kyes, where


do you draw the line for notifying ICE? If
you notify before someone is actually
convicted, they could actually be innocent
but still get deported. Chief Kyes remarked
that it is necessary to draw the line
somewhere, and that 99% of arrests are
guilty.
Charges” people was equal to the number of people in
Levels 1, 2, and 3 combined. It is important to educate A final question asked what a “sanctuary city” is. This
people on the program and to assess whether it’s having a designation was adopted by the Chelsea City Council in
good result of removing criminals. 2006. It is a symbolic gesture that means that
undocumented people, if they play by the rules, are safe.
The third program is Order 287G. This is a Memorandum Rep. Sinema remarked that it is more of a summary of a
of Understanding between local and federal law city’s policies rather than an implementable policy itself,
enforcement agencies in which the federal agency grants and it means that police do not inquire into one’s
some right for local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration status unless it’s a violent crime. She also
immigration law. It is meant to be limited to certain groups advised not to overemphasize the terminology, and that it’s
or circumstances as outlined specifically in the MOU, and better to push for good policies than this type of
training is provided to police so that they pursue the MOU designation.
but also do not violate civil liberties. A 287G can also exist

36! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010
2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary Report

Public Schools

Sept. 30, 2010 NCLB’s accountability system does not work because the
way we measure success of systems doesn’t work (as in
Moderator: Margie McHugh, Co-Director, National Center on above). Thus, Obama’s focus on intervening with failing
Immigrant Integration Policy, Migration Policy Institute
schools is pointless because we don’t have accurate way of
Panelists: Raul Gonzales, head of Legislative Affairs and Ed. measuring whether schools are successful or failing.
Policy at the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Newer NCLB features include measuring “accumulative
Roger Rice, Lawyer and long-time defender of ELL student rights growth” of students from one year to next, which is
and the head of META in Boston improvement from old system, which compared 4th grades
Bob Hildreth, Philanthropist and founder of Families United in in 2010 to other 4th grades in a different year, which was
Educational Leadership (FUEL)
arbitrary. Now students are compared to themselves to
Summary: Rachel Hershberger, Boston College measure personal growth in educational achievement.

The panel on public schools was focused specifically on Newer NCLB aspects also include giving government
English Language Learners (ELLs) and Education in the US power to shut schools down that do not meet success
Much of the discussion (led by Raul Gonzalez) was about standards. A school might be shut down and then
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and how ELL youth are reopened with entirely new teachers. No evidence that
advantaged and disadvantaged by NCLB. This discussion this will work, so hopefully this policy won’t become law.
included a description of NCLB and its strengths and
weaknesses, and a discussion (largely informed by Roger Future Suggestions:
Rice’s work with META) of what NCLB looks like in schools 1. We need to find out how to deal with teacher issue-
and on the ground when it is implemented. It also touched while teacher-child interaction is most important
on parental and community involvement in educating the element in education—still don’t know how to make
US ELL population, and how philanthropists like Bob teachers better.
Hildreth can play a part. Panelists offered suggestions 2. Performance Pay? Get rid of tenure? (Argues money
about what policy-makers, parents, and community won’t make teachers do better- they already have
members could do to improve educational opportunities incentive to do well)
and outcomes for ELL youth in US schools. Report is
organized into three parts and each part has a list of 3. New NCLB legislation will have more provisions for
suggestions related to the topic. ELLs—there will be title for “diverse learners” which will
provide more services for their education. We overall
US Education Policy: need more resources for ELL education.
Panelists discussed how children of immigrants in US
schools has increased dramatically and that many arrived Research has shown that it does work to close schools
in middle and late years of educational career which down and open them up as dual language schools. More
makes it difficult for them to acquire English, then programs like this will be beneficial. Some measure of
Academic English, and to matriculate. With No Child Left Accountability is ultimately good for ELL youth as it holds
Behind (NCLB) issues of testing and how to apply them schools accountable for their education. Need improved
fairly to these ELL youth, with their many challenges, come measures of accountability.
to the fore.
What NCLB and education for ELLs Looks Like in
NCLB has to do with accountability, choice, reform, and Schools?
competition. The Race to the Top initiative increased Delaware and South Carolina have school districts that are
competition among states and then forced those who getting rid of ESL programs and bilingual instructors.
receive it to implement education policies that the Fed. Bilingual instructors are replaced with bilingual tutors.
Government is behind. While our government is interested Similarly, in Florida, parents were not allowed to enter
in “cutting edge ideas,” such as standards, accountability, schools without ID card—threats to call ICE if parents
and assessment—they do not work. For example, NCLB entered without cards were made. Beyond volatile climate
lets states set own standards which directly means for ELL youth and families is inadequate services in
children’s education will vary depending on which state schools. To education ELL youth may take twice as much
they are in. Michigan sets high standards but kids in as non-ELL youth, as a study Rice did for NYAC reported.
Michigan who do badly on the Michigan Test are viewed
as poorly performing students even though they rank okay Even if states reserve sufficient funds for ELL youth, by the
in terms of national standards. In Arkansas it’s the reverse. time money moves from state to district, to school, or from
state to mayor, to superintendent, to principal it may have

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 37


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

been reallocated significantly, so funds for ELL Youth are Parental and Community Involvement:
spent on others “needs of the school.” One principal
admitting using ELL funds she received from district to pay Obama administration is putting no money into Parental
for different school needs. Educational Involvement-it is a blind spot in our
administration and in education reform. Parental
In Massachusetts’ Race to the Top report, a lot more money Involvement is a focus in NCLB but policy-makers still
was allocated for spending on ELL/SPED students. don’t know how to involve communities and parents in
Meanwhile, Massachusetts has also fired many ELL accountability testing. Even though parents have “choice”
teachers even though ELL student population is growing. in deciding which schools to send kids to—not very active
This happened in Brockton. in this process.

Very wide range of knowledge among principals and “ELL” Hildreth’s FUEL is an example of how the community can
teachers at different schools in US Some teachers teach ELL be involved in education of ELL population – he helps
Students with no training for doing so, and their principals parents save money for kids’ future education and then
have no knowledge of who their ELL Students are. Other matches the money they save, in addition to supplying
principals know their ELL teachers, ELL students, and ELL knowledge, networks, leadership activities, and access to
parents very well and ensure that ELL teachers are very academic after school activities to ELL kids and parents in
well trained. In one such school in Denver, Colorado, Rice East Boston. FUEL also works on helping kids in E. Boston
found that principal was also up with the research on prepare for the community college entrance exams-
bilingual education. This shows that there is NO ACUPLACER- which improves chances of success in
STANDARD for defining or requiring highly qualified ELL community college and saves colleges and families money
teachers. Kids need structured English learning all day in long run by limiting expenses of remedial courses.
given range of literacy levels of kids in US schools. Students in FUEL have received full scholarships to
colleges like UMASS, Amherst.
Even though some ELL students achieve incredible things
early on (Somali kids moving from herding goats to writing Future Suggestions:
short essays in their year of being in school was one
example), they still will not pass MEPA or MCAS standards 1. Media should identify which schools are working and
and teachers won’t meet AYP requirements. which ones aren’t and then disseminate this information
for parents to increase their involvement.
Fears that given hostile anti-immigrant climate in US and in 2. In1930’s, Mexican parents organized against school that
US schools, that Plyler V. Doe will be overturned. isolated Mexicans, similar thing occurred in 1940s…-
Mentions that it was a 4/5 decision but Supreme Court ALL major Ed. Reform in US began with parent
Justice Roberts noted the decision should be reversed and organizing—we need more parent organizing!
has overturned similar cases since. If it’s reversed, local
3. We need more dual language schools in poor
districts will have power to decide on serious issues around
communities like Lawrence which would include ELL
educating ELL youth (and specifically, those without
Latinos and English speaking Latinos in one classroom
citizenship) and what standards are set for them. Equal
(this too requires advocacy).
Education Opportunity Act of 1974 is only thing letting
parents take schools to courts. 4. Need more programs like FUEL to increase financial,
social, and human capital that immigrant families need
Future Suggestions: for college attainment.
5. Have to help parents demand an education for their kids
1. We need standard measure of quality ELL Teacher.
(a “match” program is a way to add to parents’
2. We need to make sure money for ELL populations is motivation to help kids receive good education).
properly allocated despite the trickle down funding
6. Need to form more partnerships in community (FUEL
system (State-District-School).
operations through partners with after-school programs,
3. “Don’t Mourn-Organize!”- Parents and communities banks, and community organizations).
need to organize against failing education system for
ELLs- All successful organizing in schools started with
parents. We urgently need to form local advocacy
groups and coalitions.

38! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010
2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary Report

Urban Revitalization
September 30, 2010
The third speaker, Steve Tobocman, was a former State
Moderator: Paul Watanabe, University of Massachusetts –
Boston
Representative for the southwest Detroit area and is
currently involved with Global Detroit, an economic
Panelists: Mayor Michael Brown, Grand Forks, North development organization that incorporates the immigrant
Dakota; Jamie Durana, Municipal Action for Immigrant and international populations of the city. He asked one
Integration, National League of Cities; Manuel Pastor, Co-
central question: What are the philanthropic, social
Director, Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, USC;
entrepreneurial, and governmental interventions that can
Steve Tobocman, Global Detroit
help immigrants revive cities? Immigrants can stabilize
Summary: M. Ross Bloom, MIRA Coalition communities and they can do so even in Detroit. The
organization recommends connecting immigrant
This panel looked at the immigrant role in urban community leaders with city leaders to open the dialogue.
revitalization focusing on a variety of angles; though the For Detroit, they have found that most of the immigrants
discourse on urban revitalization often revolves around who live in the city did not originally immigrate directly to
purely economic issues, the phenomenon of urban Detroit, but came to Detroit via another American
revitalization itself contains social, cultural, political, and destination—he views this as Detroit’s immigration niche.
physical attributes as well that are critical to consider. Thus, one strategy for growing the immigrant economic
development potential in Detroit is the retention of those
The first speaker, Jamie Durana from the National League immigrants who are already there—that is, helping to
of Cities, represents a membership organization composed establish those who have already come to Detroit so that
of municipalities across the country. The NLC does research they encourage others to follow. A second strategy is the
for the cities, and one of the topics is effective strategies for use of traditional organizations and entities geared toward
integrating immigrants into the urban community and to helping immigrants integrate. This includes services that are
deal with issues that may arise in this process. Two specifically targeted toward immigrants and the unique
programs that she highlighted were the Citizens’ Academy challenges they face.
curriculum, which helps residents understand local
government and become engaged in civic life, and City The fourth speaker, Professor Manuel Pastor, is the Co-
Partners, which focuses on special issues facing cities Director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant
which are designated as partners. In general, with regard to Integration at USC. His talk focused on two issues that
immigrant integration, her organization focuses on affect immigrant integration outcomes: receptivity and
highlighting the benefits that immigrants bring to cities. geography. In terms of receptivity, he noted that it is
important for a region to be receptive to immigrants, and
The second speaker, Mayor Michael Brown of Grand Forks, highlighted two aspects that impact this receptivity. First is
North Dakota, represents a city government dealing with the racial politics of the region: how are immigrants
demographic changes due to new immigrant groups racialized? Places integrate better when it is de-racialized.
entering the city, including a number of refugee groups that
have been resettled there. He discussed the role of
city government as the facilitator between other
institutions in the city to ensure that these new
residents are welcomed and integrated into the
fabric of the city, and to make sure that the
immigration benefits everyone. He highlighted the
role of immigrant labor in industrial jobs and in
small business entrepreneurship. He viewed strong
integration as a means to lower crime and increase
the standard of living. He discussed the critical role
of communication in the integration process,
particularly in terms of the necessity for immigrant
groups to become civically engaged through
becoming citizens, etc., while on the other side
ensuring that city government and local
organizations work together to help integrate new
residents. Their city’s goal is citizenship and
integration—but, he said, there are no panaceas in
this integration process, so patience is key.

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 39


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

Second is the role that regional business organizations can


play in becoming advocates for immigrant integration. In One question had to do with the role of Latin American
terms of geography, he emphasized that while people often political corruption in the political engagement of Latino
discuss the “new places” that immigrants are coming to, immigrants; the panelists responded by emphasizing the
where they have never been before, another important fact that with corruption came, as well, vibrant political
geographical issue is that of immigrants coming to new action and protests that we see people doing on this side of
places within old locales. He focused on two such areas in the border, and that it’s important to build on the positive
particular. The first is the older inner-ring suburbs—these aspects; consistent messaging of equality under the law by
places often have tired infrastructure and political local government; and the fact that business here also
corruption, so one issue facing these areas is, how can we involves corruption and it’s just a different system of doing
encourage civic engagement and planning expertise among things here.
immigrants and immigrant leaders so that they can
contribute to positive changes within these areas? The One audience member provided a suggestion to help
second geographical area is immigration into traditionally Community Development Corporations help immigrant
African-American areas. This creates dislocation which communities—in Philadelphia, the city has used its
needs to be dealt with. He noted that the two racial groups municipal purchasing power to demand that private ESL
that are in closest spatial proximity in the United States are providers give ESL services to nonprofits at the same cost as
African-American and Latinos, but immigrant groups are the city has to pay, which lowers costs for all providers.
not reaching out to African-American groups, but that there
are a lot of potential gains that can be achieved through Another audience member asked, when you have
these groups reaching out to each other. situations, such as in the inner city, where so many ethnic
groups are coming together, how do we address the
The chair, Paul Watanabe from UMass Boston, began the similarities among these groups while also addressing
discussion with a question: Can the case be made that the specific needs? One panelist suggested that it is important
new immigrants are the same as the old ones who have to go to where someone else is and figure out what his
come in previous generations? The panelists responded fears are, such as the fear of displacement among African-
with different perspectives, including that some immigrant Americans, and to always speak as though the other is in
groups bring customs that at times clash with American the room.
law, and thus the government needs to manage the
expectations of these new groups; the issue of how the new Another question was, what are the causes of urban decay
and old dichotomy often becomes racialized and the and how do immigrants play a part? Panelists noted that
discussion becomes more about race than anything else; cities are coming back from a historical perspective,
and that the sharing of migration stories among these including factors such as changing demography, the rise of
different groups, about why they all migrated to this place, technology, and the current trends toward environmentally
can be the start of a dialogue. sound, compact living.

One comment was that there is no confidence in the public


that everyone’s life will improve with urban revitalization
and that there are myths around about immigrant business,
etc.–prompting the question: how do we ensure that urban
revitalization benefits everyone? Panelists answered that we
need to incorporate everyone in planning conversations,
not just have it be a bilateral conversation.

A last question was: how can we use intergroup efforts to


ensure that the current immigrant groups do not become
the racist or xenophobic groups in the future? Panelists
remarked that we need to increase communication and
education, and that the critical role of business runs
through all of these questions: the need to work with
business interests to support broad-based immigrant
integration efforts.

40! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010
2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary Report

Comprehensive Immigration Reform


October 1, 2010 Schumer and Graham were working on a compromise bill
but Democrats started to pass bills in other areas “all the
Moderator: Mary Giovagnoli, Director, Immigration Policy
Center, American Immigration Council
way to the left” for Republicans, so Republicans backed off
of CIR and other Democrat bills. And that’s why she
Panelists: Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National believes that CIR did not pass. Ms. Jacoby also believes
Immigration Forum; Peter Skerry, Professor of Political that there was no bipartisanship and both parties are
Science, Boston College, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute;
Tamar Jacoby, President and CEO, ImmigrationWorks USA playing political games to blame each other. And
Democrats are making it a political issue to win votes
Summary: Marcony Almeida, MIRA Coalition against Republicans.

Ali Noorani began the discussion by explaining the 2011 scenario: Republicans will win big – don’t know how
creation of the Reform Immigration For America campaign big – so Republicans might decide to say no to CIR. But, if
two years ago. The campaign started with the idea of there is a more balanced congress and both parties decide
gathering 279 votes in congress to pass comprehensive to work together because they would need it, then yes
immigration reform (CIR). The campaign has connected there is a possibility for CIR, but not for a bill like the
with over 750,000 people to date. Menedez bill. It would be a tougher bill and it would be up
to Democrats and to President Obama to decide if they
Ali explained that when Sen. Reid decided to do would compromise or not. She believes that both parties
immigration reform and Sen. Graham said no, then all want to do it for the 2012 election because both parties
Republicans decided to vote no for everything Democrats will need the Latino vote.
proposed. Whether there will be CIR in 2011 depends on
who will be the leaders in congress (Speaker Pelosi or She has talked with Republicans and Republican
Behner). If Republicans take leadership, possible chairs of congressional staff who said that they would only see a
Judiciary committees are not friends of the immigrant Republican President if they would work to pass CIR with
community. So, CIR in 2011 will depend also of turnout of Democrats because of the Latino vote. We, advocates,
voters during this year’s election. But regardless of who will need to stop thinking that the other side is racist and the
lead congress, we know that the margin will be narrow. other side needs to stop thinking and acting like we are
That is why it is important to keep organizing at the local anti-American. Once that happens, we will be able to pass
level moving to November election, but also during the CIR.
lame duck section and next year’s new congress.
Open questions to audience:
Mr. Skerry talked about the Menedez CIR bill. He believes • Ali answered a question talking about the challenges
that it is a “same old, same old” bill. It is a wish list from ahead with CIR. There is the danger of going ahead with
immigrant advocates. He likes the English acquisition, exit “block by block” bills (enforcement, Dream only, etc).
control and immigrant integration pieces in the bill. He Would we be happy legalizing students only? Does CIR
has concerns about the large scale implementation of E- as a whole look hard?
verify proposed in the bill. The proposal calls from
• Ms. Jacoby believes that in single bills we could get
immediate legalization without first immediate more votes to pass it than in a CIR as a whole.
enforcement. So he believes it will be a barrier to pass
because of the opposition. The proposal says little about • Mr. Skerry believes that a Dream Act only bill would
skilled workers immigration to the US. Instead it is heavy alienate our base.
focus on family-based immigration. He believes that this • Ali mentioned an enforcement only bill. If enforcement
bill should be heavy on 287G and Secure Communities, only comes in 2011, we need to put our cards on the
even though he believes that the audience and advocates table and say what we want in return. Enforcement only
disagree with him. as single bill is unacceptable but if it comes as part of
CIR, we won’t be able to say “no…no way”.
Tamar mentioned that she is different from most in the
• Ms. Jacoby believes that “we advocates need to live with
room because she is a Republican who has been working
the reality of enforcement” otherwise we won’t get a
for CIR. She believes we should remain a nation of
nice CIR bill. Ali said that we are not against all
immigrants but because people are losing faith in the
enforcement, but are against the kind of enforcement
immigration system, she is afraid that it will be hard to pass
that has been conducted currently.
CIR. She organizes small business owners to fight for CIR
because she believes that they will be the ones helping to
push CIR and to explain that “enforcement only” will not
work because they those businesses need these workers.

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 41


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

Immigrant Entrepreneurship
September 30, 2010 In previous years, the advantage that the US had was that it
had the biggest market. But this is no longer the case. For
Moderator: Marcia Hohn, Director of Public Education,
Immigrant Learning Center
instance, more cars were bought in China than in the US
last year. Nowadays, the international students have more
Panelists: Richard Herman, author of “Immigrants, Inc.”; chances of obtaining a better job if they go back to their
Vinit Nijhawan, Executive in Resident, Inst. For Technology countries. Mr. Nijhawan strongly believes that skilled
Entrepreneurship and Commercialization, Boston University;
immigrants need our help, too.
Anne O’Callaghan, Executive Director, Welcoming Center for
New Pennsylvanians; Rodrigo Cerveira, Senior Loan Consultant,
ACCION USA
Later on, Ms. Anne O’Callaghan continued the session
talking about the tools for supporting immigrant
Summary: Marcia Pescador, Immigrant Learning Center entrepreneurs. Ms. O’Callaghan represents the Welcoming
Center for New Pennsylvanians. They give support to
integrate and start over immigrants’ life in the US,
Dr. Marcia Hohn started the session by introducing Richard including housing, social security numbers and finding
Herman, author of the book “Immigrant Inc.” and founder jobs.
of an immigration and business law firm in Cleveland,
Ohio. Mr. Herman referenced the number of immigrants in Ms. O’Callaghan said that some barriers that can be a
Cleveland, stating that 30% of Cleveland’s population is challenge to integration are:
immigrant and 25% of the business were started by • Lack of financing sources. They do not have US credit
immigrants. Mr. Herman believes that immigrants provide history,
a huge economic development; they have global
• Lack of social capital,
connections as well as global skills. Some interesting
numbers that Mr. Herman mentioned were that from the • Lack of familiarity with geographic laws in the US,
million green cards that are given in a year, approximately • Lack of English fluency.
15% are for skilled immigrants, 9% for high skilled
immigrants and 3 or 4 % for families. He also believes that In the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, they
immigrant´s life is a culture and a way of living. He give immigrants strategies to resolve each of these
believes that immigrants are dreamers and fighters, and challenges. They believe that immigrant business owners
that we should all think like immigrants! are a powerful force for economic revitalization in
depressed commercial districts because it is cheaper to
Next to talk was Mr. Vinit Nijhawan from Boston rent or even buy a locale there. Finally, Ms. O’Callaghan
University. Dr. Hohn asked Mr. Nijhawan to begin by indicated that immigrant entrepreneurs are a critical force
sharing some of his own background. Mr. Nijhawan’s in the US economic recovery.
grandfather did his Post-doctoral studies in the US in 1946.
Also, his father did his undergraduate and graduate studies To finish, Dr. Hohn introduced Rodrigo Cervera, from
in the US and then went back to India to get married. After ACCION USA. Mr. Cervera talked about the help that
the marriage, Mr. Nijhawan’s parents moved to Canada, ACCION USA gives to immigrant entrepreneurs, including
where Mr. Nijhawan grew up. He has been in Boston for microfinance and financial education for small businesses.
23 years and considers himself to be an entrepreneur for ACCION USA started in 1991 in New York and now
the last 30 years. Mr. Nijhawan’s main interest is high- operates in 9 states, it has 20,000 clients with loans over
skilled immigrants. He believes the work force that the US 8,000 dollars and 65% of their active portfolio is made up
needs to continue growing is right there sitting in its of immigrants. ACCION USA gives an interest rate of
classrooms. Twenty percent of students in the world come 8.99% to 15.99%.
to study to the US. In 2008-2009, 617,616 international
students studied in the US and in 2005, 25.3% of They work closely with the community, understanding
companies in the country had an immigrant as a key their needs and concerns. Working together with
founder. High-skilled immigrants are often willing to delay immigrants, ACCION USA seeks to help manage and
high profits because they often come from financially improve immigrants’ credit, once a pre-qualification test is
difficult circumstance in their home country and are satisfied.
willing to start from zero here–as long as they can start
working on something related to their study field and gain
some experience.

42! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010
2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary Report

2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010 43


2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Summary

Produced by Massachusetts Immigration & Refugee Advocacy Coalition,


host of the 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference

Edited by Eva A. Millona, Nicole Tambouret, Samuel Tsoi


MIRA Coalition 105 Chauncy St # 901, Boston, MA 02111-1781, (617) 350-5480

Report design –Pat Yukna/PARY Design

44! 2010 National Immigrant Integration Conference Boston, MA September 29 - October 1, 2010