CLINIC Promotes Positive Dialogue on Immigration Reform at Annual Convening in New Orleans
Washington, DC (May 14, 2010) – The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) will host its Annual Convening at the JW Marriott downtown hotel in New Orleans, LA from May 19-21. Bringing together more than 250 legal service providers, the conference will offer a wide range of trainings and seminars, and promote advocacy on behalf of immigration reform. This year’s conference theme, Journey of Hope: Understanding Migration and Building Communities highlights the conference’s aim of promoting positive dialogue about the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
The three day conference, attended by nonprofit immigration program staff as well as private attorneys, offers a mix of immigration law trainings and seminars on advocacy, skills development, and program management. The convening will also emphasize the need to build a greater understanding of our role as a receiving community and encourage more welcoming attitudes towards immigrants.
“In the last few months we have watched as the discussion around immigration reform has dissolved into harsh rhetoric and increased negative public opinion about immigrants and their presence in our communities,” said CLINIC Executive Director Maria Odom.
“Our goal at this year’s convening is to initiate and lead a conversation about the shared values that unites immigrants with their receiving communities – the very same values that drive the migrant to leave her homeland in search of sustenance, safety, and a better future for her children. It is through the promotion of those shared values that we will achieve a full communion in our communities and obtain support for comprehensive immigration reform. We will celebrate our network for their important contributions in helping to shape a positive dialogue in their communities. This is an important opportunity for our affiliates who represent some of the most vulnerable immigrants across the country,” said Odom.
The opening ceremony will spotlight the Catholic Church’s role in framing positive conversations on immigration reform. It will feature Fr. Daniel Groody, Assistant Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame and renowned authority on Catholic Social Teaching on migration; Ambassador Johnny Young, executive director for Migration and Refugee Services (MRS); as well as Jill Gerschutz, senior legislative specialist at Catholic Relief Services. Other distinguished guests include January Contreras, ombudsman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS )and Candy Hill, senior vice president for social policy and government affairs at Catholic Charities USA.
The conference will also recognize the work of several immigrant advocates and supporters who have contributed to a positive dialogue about immigration and have worked tirelessly to expand access to affordable legal services to immigrants. CLINIC will present the second Lily Gutierrez Memorial Award to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Hartford, CT, a recently established immigration program that has significantly increased the availability of legal services to immigrants in the Hartford and New Haven communities. Recognition will also be given to the Clinical Legal Studies Program at Texas Southern University, where law school students at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law, as volunteers with CLINIC’s Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) Pro Bono Project, have successfully won release for detained immigrants.
The convening will also include exhibits by a number of organizations, including the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), Catholic Charities USA, LawLogix, USCIS as well as CLINIC.
CLINIC, a subsidiary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is the nation’s largest network of nonprofit immigration programs. It supports more than 185 immigration programs located in 48 states. It advocates for humane and just immigration policy.
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