Defending Civil Rights to be Key Plenary at National Immigrant Integration Conference

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U.S. Department of Justice Assistant AG for Civil Rights joins conference line up.

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The largest national conference to bring together a cross-section of immigrant integration leaders and advocates, the National Immigrant Integration Conference 2012 (NIIC 2012), will be held Sept. 22-25 in Baltimore, Md. NIIC 2012 will focus on finding practical solutions to ensure immigrants have the opportunity to become integral members of the U.S. communities they call home.

The plenary “A Paramount Democracy: The Federal Role in Defending Civil Rights,” will feature Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The plenary will include questions from national immigrant leaders from election battleground states in a year in which the presidency could be determined by immigrant voters.

Immigrants play a valuable role in our communities, our society and our economy and it’s of the utmost importance that they are assured equality and freedom. Throughout American history, immigrant integration has been impacted by civil rights challenges. Ensuring freedom from discrimination and constitutional abuses is a core element of the multipronged approach to integrate immigrants into communities and states across our country.

NIIC 2012 will open Saturday, Sept. 22, with a New Americans Festival that will feature an inspirational U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization ceremony. On Sunday, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley will give the conference opening address. He will highlight how his state is leading a growing movement of state and local governments across the country – from Baltimore to Dayton to Detroit – to recognize, and promote immigrants’ contributions, and develop comprehensive efforts to attract and welcome them.

Additional high-profile speakers include:

  •     Alejandro Mayorkas, director, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  •     Brenda Dann-Messier, assistant secretary for vocational and adult education, U.S. Department of Education
  •     Bob Annibale, global director, Citi Microfinance

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 their fullest capacity to their families, jobs and communities.

"As we mark another political election with the same divisive debates over immigration policy, the real day-to-day work of providing immigrants who are already in this country the opportunity to pursue the American Dream continues," said Gustavo Torres the executive director of CASA de Maryland, who is hosting the conference. “A citizen’s right to vote is paramount to that pursuit and we’ll explore this civil justice issue along with opportunities for education, entrepreneurship, community engagement, and more at this signature immigrant integration event.”

The conference will focus on empowering immigrants to build stronger, healthier communities. Important topics that will be addressed include access to education, the political process, health care, religious institutions and commercial resources, like banking.

For more information or to register for the conference, visit Journalists are welcome to attend the conference and are asked to register in advance online.


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.

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Diane Quest
Camino Public Relations
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