Working at CLINIC’s national office sometimes gives me the impression I am in the engine room of a great ocean liner. My coworkers are alongside me in the boiler room. The “crew” is our affiliate staff in 275 agencies with 1,800-plus immigration counselors. The “passengers” are immigrants they serve. We are traversing the globe. The forecast is clear. It’s full steam ahead.
Kitsap Immigrant Assistance Center (KIAC) fulfills a dire need for immigration legal services in the West Puget Sound, a lowland area west of Seattle characterized by saltwater bays, islands, and peninsulas. In this area, there are no other community-based organizations providing services to immigrants. The West Puget Sound has an almost invisible immigrant population that largely goes unnoticed by service providers. KIAC was founded in 2004 and since then has been working to assist immigrants in the West Puget Sound better their lives.
CLINIC recently worked in partnership with the DePaul University School of Law to help key immigration service providers in Chicago learn more about developments at the National Visa Center (NVC) and improvements to come. Overall, the engagement was a tremendous success. It provided an important overview of the past and upcoming changes at the NVC and started a very important dialogue among the NVC team, CLINIC, and its affiliates on the effects of those improvements, suggestions for refinement, and opportunities for enhancements.
Why does the Southeast need more legal service providers? To understand the need, this blog series took a holistic approach to investigating who is in need, how, and why, from the assessment of the demographic changes to anti-immigrant sentiment. In the final blog post, we will assess how bad that lack actually is, and what exactly CLINIC is going to do about it.
Recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, CLINIC highlights the large, unmet need for immigration legal services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and trafficking.
So far, we’ve explored the rapid demographic shift of the Southeast region and the emergence of the New Latino South, demonstrating the need for more immigration legal service providers and resources. But if the growth and impact of this community is evident and felt throughout the region, why aren’t there more legal service providers for immigrants in the Southeast in the first place?
We know immigrants are coming to the Southeast. But who are they, and from where are they coming? Seven of the nine U.S. states in which the Latino population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010 are in the Southeast region. Over one-third come from Mexico. Most immigrants are undocumented and of the undocumented, most are Latino (76.2%).
Twenty-eight years ago my mother fled her home in Nicaragua, a country embroiled in civil war. For years, her life and that of her family had been ravaged by a country with corrupt government officials and oppressed by a rebel group that brought nothing but violence to civilians like my parents. My mother saw family members and friends killed or forced to fight for a cause they did not believe in. At one point, she was taken hostage and held at gunpoint by militant groups and forced to drop out of school.
It’s no surprise that immigrants are coming to the United States, and in large numbers: between 1990 and 2013, the number of U.S. immigrants more than doubled as it grew from 19.8 million to 41.3 million. But have you thought about where in the United States those immigrants are going, and why?
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.