Monday, November 28, 2016

A letter to Immigrants of Champaign County/Una carta a los inmigrantes en el condado de Champaign



Estimados inmigrantes que residen en el área de Champaign, Urbana, y Rantoul:

Los Estados Unidos de América ha sido visto como una tierra de oportunidades y esperanza, y a lo largo de su historia millones de  inmigrantes han venido aquí porque han creído en ese ideal y soñaron que aquí encontrarían un lugar donde pudieran formar una mejor vida.

Las recientes elecciones han sacudido en muchos de nosotros la fe en esa imagen  y algunos están ahora viviendo con miedo, sin saber qué esperar del futuro y cómo prepararse para el.

El Foro de Inmigración de Champaign Urbana quiere aprovechar esta oportunidad para declarar inequívocamente que si usted es un inmigrante que teme que su familia va a ser separada a través de la deportación - nosotros estamos con ustedes en esto. Si usted es un refugiado que teme que se le enviará de regreso a un lugar peligroso - estamos con usted en esto.

Queremos asegurarle sin lugar a dudas de que vamos a estar junto a  ustedes y lucharemos contra cualquier y cada intento de la nueva administración que quiera usar sus promesas extremistas e intente convertirlas en política nacional.

En los próximos meses  llegaremos a entender las ramificaciones de esta elección, y  le instamos a que se unan a nosotros. Necesitamos más que nunca estar unidos y de pie contra la retórica deshumanizante y las políticas inhumanas. El Foro de Inmigración CU, como una organización que sirve a las familias inmigrantes, busca fomentar el diálogo inclusivo, y defiende los derechos de los inmigrantes, se enorgullece de trabajar con aquellos que comparten nuestros valores. Es gracias a ustedes que las ciudades de Champaign y Urbana han expresado su deseo de ser más acogedor para los inmigrantes y los recién llegados, y tenemos la intención de presionar para que  actúen ahora y tomen medidas adicionales para garantizar que la promesa de bienvenida  se convierta en política oficial.

El cambio comienza con la toma de acción en nuestras propias comunidades. El movimiento en el condado de Champaign ha  comenzado, y continuará creciendo y fortaleciéndose, pero no podemos hacerlo sin ustedes.

Necesitamos el apoyo de los demás, así que por favor añada su voz y unase a nosotros en la acción.

Este miércoles, 30 de de noviembre, le invitamos a unirse a nosotros para una reunión comunitaria sobre cómo el Condado de Champaign puede apoyar mejor a las comunidades de inmigrantes que viven aquí. ¡Asegúrese  que su voz sea escuchada! También pedimos que por favor revise su email  esta semana para firmar el formulario de acción y hacernos saber cómo desea unirse al movimiento para seguir avanzando.

Muchos en Rantoul, Urbana y Champaign están dispuestos a ser sus aliados, ya que quieren hacer este país más acogedor para todos; gracias por superar sus miedos y convertirse en un residente activo  y un defensor de sus derechos y valores.

Atentamente,
El Foro de Inmigración CU
_____________________________________________________________

Dear immigrants residing in the Champaign, Urbana, and Rantoul area:

The United States of America has long been seen as a land of opportunity and hope, and throughout its history millions of immigrants have come here because they believed in that ideal and dreamed that here they would find a place where they could make a better life.

The recent elections have, for many of us, shaken our faith in that image, and some are now living in fear, wondering what to expect from the future and how to prepare for it.

Therefore the CU Immigration Forum wants to take this opportunity to state unequivocally that if you are an immigrant who fears that your family will be torn apart through deportation-we are with you in this. If you are a refugee who fears that you will be sent back to a dangerous and deadly situation-we are with you in this.

We want to assure you in no uncertain terms that we will stand by you and fight any and every attempt by the incoming administration to take their extreme campaign promises and turn them into actual national policy. 

In the coming months, as we come to understand the full ramifications of this election, we urge you to join with us. We need more than ever to unite and stand up against dehumanizing rhetoric and inhumane policies. The CU Immigration Forum, as an organization that serves immigrant families, seeks to foster inclusive dialogue, and advocates for immigrant rights, is proud to be united with those who share our values. It is all because of you that the Cities of Champaign and Urbana have expressed a desire to be more welcoming to immigrants and newcomers, and we intend to press them to act now and to take further steps to ensure that promise of welcome becomes a part of official policy.

Change starts with taking action in our own communities. The movement in Champaign County is just getting started, and it will continue to grow and strengthen, but we cannot do it without you.

We need each other’s support, so please add your voice and join us in taking action.
This Wednesday, November 30th, we invite you to join us for a community meeting on how Champaign County may best support the immigrant communities that live here (more details below). Make your voice heard! We also ask that you please check your inbox this week to sign our action form and let us know how you may want to join the movement going forward.

Many in Rantoul, Urbana, and Champaign are willing to be your allies because they want to make this country more welcoming for all; thank you for overcoming your fears and becoming an involved resident and a defender of your rights and values.

Sincerely,
The CU Immigration Forum
 
 
 
 
 
Attn: Champaign County, IL
How To Be A Supporter For The Immigrant Community
Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 | 6:30pm-8:00pm
Champaign Public Library | 200 W Green St., Champaign, IL 61820
(in Robeson Rooms A & B)
Follow the event on Facebook.

Join the CU Immigration Forum for an "Ask An Immigrant" panel discussion on how to be a supporter for Immigrant Communities in Champaign County. The panel discussion will feature community advocates who work closely with local immigrant communities. People attending the meeting are encouraged to ask questions and participate in the discussion.

The meeting will then follow with a "Dos and Donts" overview in providing support to families and close with an overview of available resources, immigration updates, and ways to take action.

Questions? Contact the CU Immigration Forum at info@cuimmigrationforum.org.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Interested in Joining a Group 
Dedicated to Addressing Local Wage Theft Incidents
Affecting Immigrants?




Did you know that some employees in the Champaign-Urbana area hire immigrants and refuse to pay them for much of their labor? Imagine immigrating to a new country, working for a long period, and, then, not being paid for months of your work. Frightened by the fear of being deported in response to reporting the incidents, many immigrant workers do not know where to turn to for help.

This is the plight of many. This is wage theft.

In response to calls that CU Immigration Forum has received about local wage theft, the organization held a forum on September 12th at the University YMCA. During the event, Chicago labor and civil rights lawyer Sean Morales-Doyle and a member of the Department of Labor discussed wage theft issues affecting immigrants and undocumented populations and what can be done to confront these issues. An audio file recording of the discussion is included in this email.

Missed the forum? Check out the recording on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DfuxNcF-Ik&feature=youtu.be

Currently, CU Immigration Forum is forming a working group consisting of community members, undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, and clergy leaders to address these local wage theft incidents. 
   
If you are interested in joining this group, please email us at info@cuimmmigrationforum.org

No prior experience working on immigrant rights issues is necessary. All are invited to join this group of the CU Immigration Forum community. 

Questions? Please email info@cuimmigrationforum.org.

Monday, September 12, 2016

CU Immigration Forum Announces the 2016 recipients of the 3rd Annual Immigrant Welcome Awards

CU Immigration Forum Announces the 2016 recipients of the
3rd Annual Immigrant Welcome Awards





The CU Immigration Forum is pleased to announce the 2016 recipients of the 3rd Annual Immigrant Welcome Awards. This year's award ceremony and celebration will take place on Saturday, September 24, 2016 from 1pm-4pm at the Urbana Free Library (in Lewis Auditorium), 210 W. Green Street in Urbana, Illinois.

Come celebrate the diversity of cultures that make up our community with an afternoon of music, food and art projects for children and special guests. This is a Welcoming Week event, part of a national week that brings together immigrants and U.S. born residents in a spirit of unity. We will also recognize the winners of the Immigrant Friendly Awards which are given to individuals and organizations that have created a welcoming atmosphere for immigrants in Champaign County. This year's winners include Cristina Lucio, Namsoo Hyong, Ahh Ha Ho, World Harvest International Food, Avicenna Community Health Center, and Urbana School District 116's Bilingual and Multicultural Program. Below you will find more information about this year's award recipients.


“We believe Champaign-Urbana is strongest when everyone feels welcome and neighbors work together to make our community an even better place to live,” said Megan Flowers, Secretary Officer of the CU Immigration Forum. “We participate in Welcoming Week to honor the many contributions immigrants have made to Champaign-Urbana and to celebrate the values that unite us for a more vibrant, cohesive community.”


“These celebrations are part of a powerful and growing movement in our country and around the world,” said David Lubell, founder and executive director of Welcoming America. “Communities recognize that they are more vibrant and prosperous when everyone feels welcomed and can fully participate. In events across the world this week, new and long-time residents are building bridges and make their communities stronger.”

This event is free and open to all. There will be activities for children throughout the afternoon. This event is cosponsored by CU Immigration Forum, University YMCA, City of Urbana, City of Champaign, Welcoming America, Champaign Public Library, and Urbana Free Library.

Program Schedule:
1pm-2pm: Get the Facts on Immigrants in Champaign County (a workshop for anyone interested in learning more) with Susan Ogwal
2pm-2:30pm: Socializing and refreshments
2:30pm-4pm: Awards Ceremony and musical performances by La Voz Universal (Mayan) and by a Congolese group.

The 2016 Immigrant Welcome Award Recipients:

Student Leadership Award: A student who has shown promise as an important leader in immigration issues, locally or beyond.

Cristina Lucio: For the past two summers Cristina Lucio has interned full time in Tucson, Arizona at the Colibrí Center for Human Rights, a family advocacy organization working to end migrant death and related suffering on the US-Mexico border. She documented missing persons reports through phone interviews and helped organize Colibrí's DNA program initiative. Along with immigrant rights activists, she actively participated in community organization meetings, political demonstrations, dropping off gallons of water in the Tucson desert in hopes that migrants would find them, and other volunteer opportunities all related to immigrant rights and racial justice. Locally, as the undergraduate intern of the Anthropology Department for the past two years, Cristina made it a priority to organize events meant to center and discuss sociopolitical issues that are often undermined on the UIUC campus, including Central American and Mexican migration and US immigration policies. Her senior research work also contributes to critical anthropological analysis of US-Mexico border issues. During spring 2016 she was part of a group of undergrads conducting ethnographical research on immigrant detention in the Midwest, in which we presented at the Ethnography of the University Initiative Student Conference.


Distinguished Service Award: An individual who has demonstrated long-term commitment to the local immigrant community.

Namsoo Hyong - Master Namsoo Hyong has been an active member in the community since 1980. He migrated to Champaign from Korea with very little knowledge of the culture and language to continue his brother's Taekwondo academy. Together, they created a system of non-competitive martial arts that is inclusive of all regardless of race, gender or age. He was also an active member of the Savoy Rotary Club and helped with community projects in the surrounding area. He plays a key role in the Korean Student Association by introducing them to the American culture through socialization with the diverse group of students in his academy. He is also the president of American Intangible Cultural Heritage, which seeks to document culturally significant activities and educate others.


Leadership Award: An individual who has been a strong leader in the immigrant community.

Anh Ha Ho - Ha Ho is the co-director of East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center. Ha Ho has been a vital support to refugees and immigrants in Central Illinois for decades. Though she has served in many roles in our community, her most important contribution hasbeen as the co-director of the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center. Her co-director Deb Hlavna has said, “It’s incredible how much she plugs herself into the community, both in her work and in her volunteer work. She has such incredible passion for people." * Ha Ho’s work at ECIRMAC is very demanding. Because it is a financially-challenged multi-service organization, Ha Ho has often had to serve above and beyond in many different roles – as social worker, translator, transportation provider, medical advocate, parenting advisor and even as consultant on how to obtain housing, education or basic necessities.

In addition to leadership at ECIRMAC, Ha Ho has also been a French teacher at Martin Luther King Elementary School, a translator at Carle Foundation Hospital, and a volunteer translator at Presence Covenant Medical Center and Christie Clinic. She also served as a Board member for the Urbana Free Library. It would be impossible to count the many lives that she has touched, and the many families she has helped through her work. Ha Ho’s own life prepared her for the challenge of serving others. She herself is a former refugee, born in Vietnam, and forced to face war and to flee her own country.

She understands first-hand the experience of living as an outsider and struggling to adjust to an unfamiliar culture. In addition to this profound affinity for others, Ha Ho brings an amazing facility with languages – fluency in English, Vietnamese, French and conversational ability in Spanish and German. “I know what it’s like to feel out of place and to just want to feel acceptance,” she has said. “I want to give people the help that I wish I had when I first moved here.” She brings her experience in a very personal way to all she serves tirelessly with enthusiasm and a smile.


Business Leadership Award: An immigrant owned business that contributes to the local economic development of CU or to the immigrant community through advocacy, donations or in-kind services.

World Harvest International Food (Mohammad Al-Heeti) - Mohammad Al-Heeti is a businessman who incorporates community as part of his business mission as stated on the website of one of his stores: "Our commitment to excellence extends beyond our store’s shelves. We understand the importance of a strong community, and we are dedicated to helping. We have worked to raise money for local schools, and given to causes promoting cultural understanding; disaster relief; as well as other causes important to our customers and staff." I know from personal experience, he generously donates both money and in-kind support to a wide variety of non-profits in our community. His personal engagement as a citizen is a model for all businesses. World Harvest was recognized for its role in the community in 2008, when it received the Champaign-Urbana International Humanitarian Award in Trade and Business!


Community Organization Award: A non-profit or community based organization, which demonstrates exceptional commitment to serving and advocating for local immigrants.

Avicenna Community Health Center - As an interfaith and multicultural not for profit organization, Avicenna Community Health Center helps the uninsured and under-insured, which include those of immigrant status, with medical and social service needs. It's mission is to provide health care for the uninsured and under insured, engage in preventative health care through community health screenings, and promote health awareness through education and information dissemination. Since it's opening in 2009, Avicenna not only helps the community as a whole but also educates through their volunteer program. They have helped many from other countries of origin to receive medical services and connect them with other service providers and cultural communities in the CU area. These volunteers dedicate their Sunday, every week, to assist in keeping those in the community happy and healthy. Those served at the clinic include people from the Congolese, Hispanic, Iranian, Arabian, Indian, and other cultural communities. Avicenna takes great care in making sure no one is left behind that need health services.


Institutional Award: Local government or other large community institution, which has made significant changes to better serve the growing immigrant population.

Urbana School District 116, Bilingual & Multicultural Programs - This award recognizes Urbana School District # 116 (USD 116) for its work with immigrant students and their parents.

We particularly lift up the work of the Bilingual and Bicultural Programs under the leadership of Joseph Wiemelt, Director, and Guadalupe Ricconi, assistant director of Equity and Student Learning; Bilingual and Multicultural Programs, and Lucia Maldonado, Latino Parent Liaison. Our commendation extends to all the teachers and staff working with immigrant families. We commend the leadership of Superintendent Donald Owen and the commitment of USD 116 Board of Education.

Support for new English learners extends from early childhood education, ages 3-5 through high school. On average there are about 750 students who speak a language other than English and 10% of all students in USD 116 are English Language Learners (ELLs). There are 46 different languages represented in the student population. Recognizing that the world truly comes to Urbana School District 116, the School Board voted unanimously to adopt a dual language immersion program. The program includes two groups in each classroom of approximately equal numbers of native speakers and Spanish speakers. Students spend part of the day learning in their native language and the other part of the day learning in their new language. Dual language students outperform their peers and because dual language students interact across cultures, both students and their families develop friendships overcoming barriers not only of language, but also barriers of race and class.


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Monday, August 8, 2016

Now Seeking Nominations For The 3rd Annual Immigrant Welcome Awards

Press Release/PSA
For Immediate Release
August 3, 2016

For media inquiries, contact:
Megan Flowers, Secretary Officer for the CU Immigration Forum

CU Immigration Forum Now Seeking Nominations For
The 3rd Annual Immigrant Welcome Awards



The CU Immigration Forum is currently accepting nominations from the general public in consideration of the individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions, taken risks, and have provided leadership for the wellbeing and success of immigrants in Champaign County. The CU Immigration Forum will accept nominations for the following award categories through August 22, 2016. After the nominations have closed, a specially formed committee will select the award winners. The award recipients will be officially recognized at the 3rd Annual Immigrant Friendly Awards Ceremony & Celebration on the afternoon of Saturday, September 24, 2016 at the Urbana Free Library, 210 E. Green Street, Urbana, Illinois. A finalized program is to be announced.

To nominate, please fill out the short nominations forum using the following link: https://docs.google.com/a/universityymca.org/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSelZ4DCPF0NRlzJ9Jxe1HXGr8uCBOYTvQmGJidJXzsCLnCV1A/viewform

The following categories of distinguished recognition include:

  • Distinguished Service Award – An individual who has demonstrated long-term commitment to the local immigrant community
  • Leadership Award – An individual who has been a strong leader in the immigrant community
  • Student Leadership Award - A student who has shown promise as an important leader in immigration issues, locally or beyond
  • Community Organization Award – A Nonprofit or community-based organization, which demonstrates exceptional commitment to serving and advocating for local immigrants
  • Institutional Award - Local government or other large community institution, which has made significant changes in response to the growing immigrant population
  • Business Leadership Award (Any business) - A business that contributes to the local immigrant community through advocacy, donations or in-kind services
  • Business Leadership Award (An Immigrant Owned Business)- A business that contributes to the local immigrant community through advocacy, donations or in-kind services and/or a locally owned immigrant owned business that has contributed to the local economic development of CU

This event is part of Welcoming Week (September 16-25), a national week of events that works to bring communities bring together, immigrants and U.S.-born residents, in a spirit of unity and to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone – including new Americans. In the Fall of 2015, the cities of Champaign and Urbana have signed a joint proclamation last year declaring September 24 officially Immigrant Welcome Awards Day.

The CU Immigration Forum is proud to recognize and celebrate the contributions of individuals and organizations that have created a welcoming atmosphere for immigrants in Champaign County. For more information about the event including past award recipients, visit: www.cuimmigrationforum.org.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

CU Immigration Forum Statement: SCOTUS Ruling Defers the Dream for Millions of Immigrants

Press Release
For Immediate Release
June 23, 2016

For media inquiries, contact: Ricardo Diaz, CU Immigration Forum
Phone: 217-979-0255
Email: info@cuimmigrationforum.org

SCOTUS Ruling Defers the Dream

for Millions of Immigrants

The CU Immigration Forum expresses its regret over today’s Supreme Court’s decision in U.S. v. Texas. The court has, in a 4-4 ruling, deferred the implementation of President Obama’s initiatives of expanded DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans). In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, the CU Immigration Forum still encourages all immigrants looking for an immigration remedy to schedule a legal consultation with The Immigration Project, a non-profit immigration law firm based in Normal, Illinois with an office in Champaign, Illinois. The Immigration Project’s four licensed immigration attorneys screen immigrants for other forms of immigration relief.

The Immigration Project and the CU Immigration Forum are hosting an informational meeting on Thursday, June 30, 2016 starting at 5:30pm at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in the fellowship hall (downstairs) at 2200 Philo Road in Urbana, Illinois. Immigrants that are interested in learning about the next steps after the Supreme Court’s decision are encouraged to attend. Free additional parking is available behind the church.  For more information about the meeting, contact the CU Immigration Forum at 217-417-5897.

Additionally, the CU Immigration Forum and The Immigration Project want to remind the public that the original DACA program from 2012 is still in effect. It provides the legal permission to work to residents who were brought to the U.S. while under the age of 16, have resided in the U.S. since 2007, were not over the age of 31 on June 15, 2012, and have pursued a form of higher education. We encourage all those who meet the requirements to come to the meeting to set up appointments to begin the application process while the 2012 DACA program is still in effect.

"The fight is not over. The Immigration Forum intends to press our elected officials for definitive legislation that will deal once and for all with this country’s longstanding immigration problems," says Tom Garza, President of the CU Immigration Forum. "Until that comes to pass, we will continue to stand with these hard working Immigrant Americans as they struggle with living their lives in the shadows, and join them in their hope for a brighter day when they will be recognized as the full partners in our communities that they have long been."

“These programs had the ability to positively impact the lives of roughly 4.3 million U.S. citizen children,” explains the Executive Director of the Immigration Project, Jasmine McGee.  “Now immigrant families remain in limbo – unauthorized to work legally but unable to leave their children alone in the U.S.  Studies show that a U.S. citizen child growing up in a household with an undocumented parent faces increased stress from the fear of having a parent deported.  In addition these children live in families with lower incomes, inferior housing, and are less likely to take advantage of community services.”

In November 2014, President Obama proposed programs that would provide the legal permission to work and protection from deportation for the parents of U.S. Citizen and lawful permanent resident children. These executive actions expanded the existing DACA from 2012 and created DAPA. Shortly after its introduction, some state governors came forward with a lawsuit and delayed the implementation of these programs. Since then, an estimated 5 million immigrants have been hoping for the start of these programs, but today their dreams for financial and emotional security for their families have been again deferred.

President Obama’s deferred action had the potential to drastically impact the well being of thousands of families in central and southern Illinois. Reports have show that families with an undocumented parent could see a 10% increase in annual income.  Furthermore, according to the Center of American Progress, these two immigration programs could have lead to the creation of almost 2,000 new jobs in Illinois and an almost $8 billion increase in cumulative income of all state residents over the next decade. Additionally, the American Immigration Council has estimated that with these programs, Illinois stood to receive an additional $347 million in tax revenue over the next five years.

In Illinois, there are an estimated 519,000 residents who are undocumented, with a portion living in Champaign County, Illinois. The majority of the undocumented population eligible for DAPA in Central and Southern Illinois have strong roots, strong family ties, and have been residing for more than ten years in the U.S.

The programs considered today by the Supreme Court were meant to alleviate immigrant families from deportation temporarily. The Supreme Court decision should impel Congress to stop putting politics over people and to enact Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Local residents who want to take action should call Congressman Rodney Davis at 202.225.2371 and tell him to support a just and humane immigration bill.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

April 2016 Working Group Summaries

APRIL 2016 Working Group Summaries
Secure Communities 2.0 Working Group On April 26, 2016, S.Comms 2.0 had a meeting with ICE representatives to officially record straight from the source what ICE procedures look like, to learn some of the organizational workings of ICE and on sharing grievances of community members. Where do you go to pick people up? Do you pick up unaccompanied minors? How do we report abuses? These are some of the questions we asked.  At the May 2016 Forum, a member of the working group will talk with the public about the local ICE meeting and present about facts about ICE, nationally and locally.  
Immigrant Friendly Communities Working Group
Several members of the Friendlies working group attended the Welcoming America’s Welcoming Interactive Conference from April 19 through the 21st. We made some great connections and are looking forward to convening soon to talk about what we took away from the conference and start thinking about a timeline for planning Welcoming Week. We will also receive an invitation to attend an interagency retreat slated for June 11, 2016, which is organized by Latino Partnership of Champaign County in partnership with CU Immigration Forum. We plan to meet at the beginning of the summer to continue the work that we would like to be funded next year by the Gateways for Growth grant. We will plan to meet at the beginning of the summer to move forward with building and implementing welcoming strategies locally.
Unaccompanied Minors Working Group
Challenges continue with difficulty in gathering information and coordinating social services for unaccompanied minors to get health care, receive food during school breaks and concern expressed with summer approaching. We have recently decided to start setting aside a time that works for the students to meet during school lunch and study hall once a month to assist students with ongoing casework. We still need volunteers to assist with driving students to Chicago. We also need to find reliable and honest Q'anjob'al translators. We have verified that immigration court does not provide translators for Asylum court/interviews so all of the students applying for asylum will need to hire a translator for their interview.
IF Student & Volunteer Group
The IF Student & Volunteer group is planning another KYR workshop to take place in Champaign at the end of June 2016. The Children's Orpheum is willing to provide private space at that time. Once we have the date set we will start outreach activities. We will be building upon the workshop by following up with the families at the two workshops to provide an opportunity to survey and outline patterns of issues that families discuss. We will also identify and reach out to gatekeepers to build relationships and identify issues. This will lay the groundwork to organize communities in fighting ICE raids and mapping out concerns that will greatly inform establishing and implementing welcoming strategies locally.


If you are interested in joining a working group of the CU Immigration Forum, please contact us at info@cuimmigrationforum.org or send us a message on Facebook. The CU Immigration Forum also hosts monthly forums on the second Tuesday of every month at 5:00pm at the University YMCA. ALL are welcome to attend.

March 2016 Working Group Summaries

Secure Communities 2.0 Working Group
The S-Comm 2.0 group this past week had a visit from Virginia Raymond, an attorney in Austin, TX working in detention centers. This was part of a project with U of I students organized by Gilberto Rosas and Kora Maldonado. Alli and a few volunteers spoke with workers at the hog plant in Rantoul, several of them described incidents of ICE forcing themselves into homes early in the morning, sometimes at the wrong address, and searching through rooms, including children's rooms. We're trying to set up a meeting with ICE that will probably be in late April.

Immigrant Friendly Communities Working Group
The group has been incorporating the more than one story card game at the beginning of each monthly forum and encouraging structures that support discussion and dialogue at these forums. Several members of the Friendlies working group will be attending Welcoming America’s Welcoming Interactive Conference from April 19 through the 21st. We look forward to bringing back new connections, strategies and tactics to move the work forward. We will also receive an invitation to attend an interagency retreat slated for June 11, 2016, which is organized by Latino Partnership of Champaign County in partnership with CU Immigration Forum. We plan to meet at the beginning of the summer to continue the work that we would like to be funded next year by the Gateways for Growth grant. We will plan to meet at the beginning of the summer to move forward with building and implementing welcoming strategies locally.

Unaccompanied Minors Working Group
The Unaccompanied Minors Working Group has been working hard to assist unaccompanied students with legal representation, transportation to court hearings in Chicago, to connect students to community services. This past month, Alli and Lucia have taken students to Chicago several times. Challenges continue with difficulty in gathering information and coordinating social services for unaccompanied minors to get health care, receive food during school breaks and concern expressed with summer approaching. We have made a connection with a pro bono attorney to assist in establishing guardianship, so that students receive better coordination of services. The issue is largely handing over the responsibilities of sponsors who neglect student needs. We’ve also coordinated volunteers from La Linea to resource map legal firms who specialize in asylum and deportation defense. The group continues to work with Immigration Project for students to receive initial consultations for possible representation.

IF Student & Volunteer Group
This working group has been collaborating with the Secure Communities 2.0 working group to help promote and organize the Know Your Rights workshop held in Rantoul this past month. The student/volunteer group met to organize the KYR workshop, coordinate volunteers, and reach out to families about the workshop. We will be building upon the workshop by following up with the families at the two workshops to provide an opportunity to survey and outline patterns of issues that families discuss. We will also identify and reach out to gatekeepers to build relationships and identify issues. This will lay the groundwork to organize communities in fighting ICE raids and mapping out concerns that will greatly inform establishing and implementing welcoming strategies locally.

If you are interested in joining a working group of the CU Immigration Forum, please contact us at info@cuimmigrationforum.org or send us a message on Facebook. The CU Immigration Forum also hosts monthly forums on the second Tuesday of every month at 5:00pm at the University YMCA. ALL are welcome to attend.