Largest Immigrant Integration Conference Seeks Student Voices

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Leaders from across the U.S. to gather and define the future of immigration services and programs.

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What: The fifth annual National Immigrant Integration Conference, Sept. 22-25 in Baltimore, Md., will bring together a cross-section of immigrant integration leaders and advocates. The conference will go beyond the politicized headlines and dive deep into the on-the-ground effort to diversify the American Dream and ensure opportunity for all.

Why This Conference Matters to Youth: Immigrant integration is one of the most important civil and human rights issues in our country today. Finding solutions that empower immigrants to build stronger, healthier communities is the path to a fully functioning society. We achieve this by ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to fully participate in the civic activities that define our country, including education and the political process, and by ensuring that everyone has access to health care, religious institutions and commercial resources such as banking.

At this conference, students will have a chance to contribute ideas about immigration and interact and network with nonprofit, government and business leaders, including some of the most innovative and effective advocates for immigrant integration in the country. Students will be an integral part of conversations regarding the practical and humane solutions that are generating programs and pathways that allow immigrants to succeed and drive America forward.

Young people are leading on many fronts of the immigration movement, from the recent deportation deferral decision to DREAM Act activists like Marco Saavedra, who staged a sit-in at an Obama campaign office, and Lucy Allain, who pushed presidential nominee Mitt Romney about why he doesn’t support the DREAM Act. The conference will devote a session to DREAM efforts in Maryland and across the nation, including proven campaign strategies and tactics.

Conference organizers are extending a special registration rate to students.

Who: Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Alejandro Mayorkas, Dr. Manuel Pastor of the University of Southern California, Dr. Westy Egmont of Boston College and Dr. Karthick Ramakrishnan of the University of California, Riverside will all be featured at the conference.

Why Immigrant Integration Matters: Nearly 40 million immigrants live in America, comprising 13 percent of the total population and 16 percent of the total labor force, and immigrants are key drivers of small business growth. Immigrants are also more likely to live without health care and more vulnerable to workplace violations. Immigrant integration, a two-way process that strengthens the systems and tools that allow immigrants in the U.S. to participate fully in their communities, benefits us all by providing people with the opportunity to contribute to the fullest capacity to their families, jobs and communities.

When: The conference will be held Sept. 22-25 in Baltimore, Md. Students can register here.

What You Need to Know about Immigrant Integration: Important components of immigrant integration include access to:

Health care — About half of immigrants are uninsured, compared to 16 percent of U.S.-born citizens. (1)

Education — Nearly one in four youth are the children of immigrants. (2)

Employment — The typical immigrant earns 22 percent less per week than the typical native-born worker. (3) Immigrants have high rates of entrepreneurship and make up nearly 17 percent of new business owners. (4)

Programs and services — About 4.5 million income-earning adult heads of households have limited English proficiency (5) and may face barriers to accessing programs and services not available in their native languages.

Citizenship and naturalization — A full 93 percent of children of immigrants are U.S. citizens. (6) Citizenship promotes stable communities and brings significant social benefits.

Safe communities — Many immigrants fear law enforcement because of their immigration status or do not understand the American justice system. The result is often that crimes such as domestic partner violence go underreported: Fewer than 20 percent of undocumented women who are victims of domestic violence seek help from law enforcement, compared to over 50 percent of female victims of violence in the general population. (7)

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The National Immigrant Integration Conference 2012 (NIIC 2012) is the largest national conference to bring together immigrant integration leaders and advocates from across the country. The conference is the signature event of the National Partnership for New Americans. Participants represent a broad cross-section of professionals whose day-to-day work can inform this conversation, including experts on immigration and refugee policies, service providers, academics, government officials and advocates — all of whom are committed to finding innovative and effective ways to develop policies and programs that promote active citizenship and a just and welcoming democracy for all.

(1) “Medicaid and the Uninsured,” Kaiser Family Foundation, Feb. 2012
(2) “Children of Immigrants: Growing National and State Diversity,” Urban Institute, Oct. 2011
(3) “Foreign-born Workers: Labor Force Characteristics — 2011,” Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2012
(4) “Estimating the Contribution of Immigrant Business Owners to the U.S. Economy,” Small Business Administration, Nov. 2008
(5) “Moving to U.S. and Amassing a Fortune, No English Needed,” The New York Times, Nov. 2011
(6) “Basic Facts on Children of Immigrants,” Urban Institute, June 2010
(7) “Legal Momentum in Brief, March 2011,” Legal Momentum, March 2011

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Diane Quest
Camino Public Relations
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