Through creative programming and a sharp focus on immigrant integration, New American Pathways, an Atlanta-based CLINIC affiliate, contributes immensely to the integration of the 3,500 refugees it serves yearly. New American Pathways was established on October 1, 2014 after two long-standing organizations, Refugee Resettlement and Immigration Services of Atlanta and Refugee Family Services, merged. Capitalizing on their collective expertise in refugee resettlement, New American Pathways is changing its community for the better.
Reading the September 28 article “Why American Catholics may not be persuaded by Pope Francis’ message on immigration,” I was disappointed on many levels – in part, due to the article's misplaced reliance on a non-scientific “experiment” – but most importantly because it totally missed the point of Pope Francis’s strong and consistent comments on immigration.
"I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people." – Pope Francis
I had the opportunity to volunteer for a week with the CARA Pro Bono Project which provides legal assistance to women and children detained in the South Texas Family Detention Center. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) erected this facility last year in the desolate town of Dilley (population 3,674). It is managed and operated by a for-profit entity called Corrections Corporation of America.
As Citizenship Week comes to a close, it is worthwhile to remember that naturalization is but one step on the pathway to the larger goal of immigrant integration. Immigrant integration is the creation of something new in the places where we live – a more inclusive community that reflects the needs and wants of all its residents. Immigrant integration takes deliberate and on-going work by both the receiving community and the newcomers, and it requires a community to grow and change as it stretches to allow everyone a chance to access services, make an impact, and participate actively.
On Constitution and Citizenship Day, we honor, not only the newcomers who have and will naturalize, but also the champions who guide them through complex immigration processes and embark on innovative ways to overcome obstacles to immigrant integration.