The seventh annual National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) took place Dec. 14-16 in downtown Los Angeles. Hosted this year by NAC partners the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), the NIIC helps define the future direction of immigrant inclusion and integration in America. It connects a bold and dynamic immigrant rights movement with a broader group of stakeholders to drive inclusion. And, less than one month after the announcement of the Immigration Accountability Executive Action, this year’s conference fostered important conversations during an unprecedented time for America’s immigrant community.
Themes from NIIC 7
The overarching concern for participants at the NIIC is meeting and serving the needs of immigrants, whether through health and financial well-being, inclusion in the community or educational and employment opportunities. The program addressed these areas of concern through specific conference tracks. Other important themes included:
The Immigration Accountability Executive Action was an important facet of the NIIC. Sessions were added to the conference to address the need and the ways to defend executive action and provide guidance on implementation and tips to streamline service providers’ work. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Leon Rodriguez also spoke at the conference. In reference to a program that will grant three-year work permits to people with longtime ties to the U.S. who meet certain conditions, Rodriguez encouraged immigrants to participate with confidence and not fear.
Fostering welcoming communities for immigrants and making citizenship affordable is a central theme at the NIIC. Eleven cities were added to Cities for Citizenship (C4C), a national initiative supported by NAC partner NPNA aimed at increasing citizenship among eligible U.S. permanent residents and encouraging cities across the country to invest in citizenship programs. These cities include Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Denver; Milwaukee; Nashville, Tenn.; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Seattle; and Washington, D.C.
Building community alliances was a theme that crossed several conference tracks. Coordinating with other players in the immigrant rights movement continues to be a key component to success, whether that means learning from allies in other social justice struggles, promoting inclusion of diverse immigrant community members, or partnering with consulates, cities, and other institutions.