By Laura Burdick
On November 16 and 17, CLINIC provided a unique training event in Los Angeles on how to plan and implement a large scale, “mega” group application workshop. The first of its kind, this two-day event combined one day of interactive, hands-on training and a second day of experience participating in an actual mega workshop organized by Catholic Charities of Los Angeles. The goal of this event, held at the Mid-Valley Regional Branch Library in North Hills, California, was to promote the effective use of mega workshops to serve immigrants on a large scale with naturalization and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications.
The participants were immigration legal staff from 31 organizations and six states representing local partner agencies in the New Americans Campaign and other organizations. These included the following agencies: Catholic Charities of Los Angeles, the International Rescue Committee of Los Angeles, Catholic Charities of Dallas, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Catholic Charities of Southeast Michigan, Catholic Charities Legal Services of the Archdiocese of Miami, Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, and Catholic Migration Services of Brooklyn, New York. A full list of CLINIC’s local partners in the New Americans Campaign can be found on its website at http://cliniclegal.org/new-americans-citizenship-campaign.
The presenters for the training were CLINIC staff and staff from CLINIC’s national partners in the New Americans Campaign, the Immigration Advocates Network (IAN) and the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO). The New Americans Campaign, http://newamericanscampaign.org/, is a privately funded, multi-year initiative led by seven national organizations to increase the number of eligible immigrants becoming naturalized U.S. citizens. The campaign is currently underway in six states: California, New York, Florida, Texas, Michigan, and North Carolina. CLINIC hopes that the mega workshop model promoted at the Los Angeles event can be replicated in other states.
The training featured new and innovative technologies, including CitizenshipWorks, http://www.citizenshipworks.org/, a web-based portal with free information and self-help tools for immigrants and service providers, and CLINIC’s self-directed e-learning course for training naturalization workshop volunteers, http://cliniclegal.org/self-directed. The training also featured CLINIC’s naturalization media campaign, Cambia Tu Vida.
The naturalization workshop event on the second day attracted more than 100 attendees seeking assistance with the naturalization application. An even larger turnout was expected, but poor weather hampered attendance. The workshop was staffed by 33 employees and volunteers, and was covered by Spanish language and mainstream media outlets.
CLINIC is proud of this first-time event, and plans to expand it to other cities, such as Miami, which is slated for 2013 together with an updated Cambia Tu Vida media campaign. For more information, please contact Rommel Calderwood, firstname.lastname@example.org.