Plenary Session III: Effective immigration policies serve to encourage and support the integration of newcomers and facilitate the attainment of citizenship. Nowhere is this better understood than at the community level, where immigrants interact daily with the broader community. Many organizations and individuals are involved in helping newcomers acclimate and move toward full participation within their adopted communities. Current immigration policies, however, often stymie these efforts. There are significant backlogs for immigrants wanting to adjust their immigration status, including for naturalization. Increasingly, state and local elected officials are adopting harsh measures affecting the immigrant communities, driving many, especially the unauthorized, further underground. And, because current immigration policies have not addressed the large population of unauthorized immigrants in the United States, large segments of the immigrant community have no recourse to status adjustment, which is a critical component to integration. This panel will explore how community organizations can and are helping to prepare immigrants to become citizens and full participants in the community. The audience will learn about practical approaches, as well as recommended policy changes, from the perspectives of those engaged with immigrant communities. Efforts, both underway and proposed, to build the case for comprehensive immigration reform and to help prepare immigrants for eventual opportunities to adjust their immigration status will be examined.

Session Moderator: Mark Franken, Executive Director, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.

Session Speakers:
Josh Bernstein, Director of Immigration, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Angelica Salas, Director, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA)
Diana Tellefson, Executive Director, United Farm Workers Foundation, Southern California

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