Immigrant Connection new Sites 2022
IC @ Celebrate
As a food manufacturing and production hub, Mankato has attracted a diversity of immigrants to the job market and education centers in the area. Coupled with prolific farming and an outdoor area that boasts of 10,000 lakes, Blue Earth County has a mostly Hispanic minority but also includes Middle Eastern, African, and Asian immigrants who contribute their skills and expertise to the vibrant economy of the area. In this context, Site Director David Norman recognized the need for immigration legal services. Neighbors and fellow residents pointed David to the need so many were expressing but very few were addressing.
Through the community partnerships and relationships David was building, he witnessed the pressing concern that kept his immigrant neighbors and friends up at night. He concentrated his efforts on launching the site which opened its doors in May 2022. He shares, “Immigrant Connection is about relationships with real people. It is only through relationships that we can begin to address the real need. The collaborative beauty of Immigrant Connection is like that skipping rock on a lake surface that touches every aspect of an individual’s life. In turn it impacts the whole community.”
IC @ hart wesleyan
The city of Hart, MI was an immigration legal service desert until Site Director Bob Gray opened this site to serve the growing immigrant population in the community. A dramatic shift in demographics brought forth through the local farming industry over the last four decades has transformed the small, rural county into the area with the greatest percentage of Hispanic families in Michigan. Before the site opened in August, the closest immigration legal service provider was 90 miles away in Grand Rapids - a significant hardship and deterrent for many.
This multilingual, multiethnic church actively serves the local community and builds trust and relationships through ministries such as a Clothing Closet, bi-monthly community meals, a mentoring program at the local schools, and by participating and being a presence at local events. This site is motivated by the impact immigration legal services can make on individuals, families and the community: “As advocates, we can help people - no matter where they are in their immigration process. Families long to be reunited. Individuals seek stability. Employers retain employees that are able to stay. That’s the impact.”
ic @ awaken city
It is typical to hear multiple languages spoken at any given restaurant in the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain in Boston, MA, where Immigrant Connection at Awaken City Church is located. It has been clear to Site Director Melinda Priest that services like ESL classes and immigration legal services are very much needed in this community. Even before the site was approved to provide legal services, it began hosting conversational English and citizenship classes with the help of a growing volunteer base. Through these classes, Immigrant Connection at Awaken City has been growing in credibility, and the local community has been drawn to their genuine care for immigrants.
The site was approved in September 2022, and it is continuing to build partnerships with other local organizations to best serve immigrant families. Melinda shares, “We will together be able to serve more people with different resources. And at our site, as we provide legal services, we want to build a place of belonging where immigrants feel they are really seen. We want to help alleviate worries about basic human rights such as being able to work freely, have a home, and reconnect with family abroad.”
ic @ path to hope
Immigrant Connection at Path to Hope, hosted by Downtown Hope Church, was born of a collaborative effort between immigrants and non-immigrants brought together by Covid pandemic relief initiatives in 2020 as well as efforts to support Afghan refugee families in 2021.
Annapolis attracts immigrants with jobs in construction, landscaping, or hospitality, but since the closest Legal Services offices in D.C. or Baltimore prioritize city residents, immigrants in Annapolis have very limited access to services.
Approved in December, Path to Hope aims to provide high-quality service for decades to come. With Department of Justice Representatives from the Latino community Antonio Martinez and Natalia Massey, the site’s vision is to bring together professionals to provide low-cost services, education, and a safe place to go when they are facing legal issues. Site Director Kristin Statham shares, “We’ll be able to fill that gap in legal services and help bring other service providers together in a way that will strengthen the community and give them more security."
ic - minot
Story coming soon!
IC @ la gran comisión
Immigrant Connection at La Gran Comisión, the first Immigrant Connection Site directed by immigrants, was approved in June 2022. The site is hosted by a multiethnic, multilingual church and located in West Columbus, home to the largest population of immigrants in the city. Host Pastor Maria Acuña shares that while there are various services available for immigrants, there are very few places that are able to provide immigration legal services - and the ones that do are often at capacity or very expensive.
Over the past 16 years, La Gran Comisión has networked with local businesses, organizations, and health providers to extend support services to their community. With the opening of their site, they will now be able to offer vital immigration legal services.
As an immigrant herself, Maria expresses that opening the site is an act of solidarity: “I have lived through this. Immigration status affects people emotionally, physically, and financially. We want to get the community involved in helping the immigrants that are here. Too many immigrants have been exploited by outrageous costs and misinformation.”
IC in the valley
The day Site Director Colby Grindean hung up the Immigrant Connection sign, people began to sign up for appointments!
McAllen, Texas is a border town on the Rio Grande Valley with one of the highest crossing points for people and caravans as well as a 92% Latino population. Existing service organizations and churches are at capacity or depleted in addressing the needs in the area. Spurred on by the urgent need for support for immigrants in McAllen, this Immigrant Connection site is focused on providing vital immigration legal services as well as on building partnerships to better serve immigrant families.
Since the site’s approval in August of 2022, the team has been making in-roads with local organizations, churches, a university, etc. to build partnerships that strengthen the work of supporting immigrant families. “There are folks here who have never been able to do anything about their immigration status, who give money to a lawyer and then nothing happens. I think we need at least two other Immigrant Connection offices across the Valley handling multiple levels of immigration work!”
ic of the high country
Boone is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a stretch of the Appalachian Mountains. It is renowned for its Christmas tree farms and home to many immigrant families as well as migrant workers seeking employment and opportunity. While there are various support services for immigrant families such as ESL classes, finance programs, and health clinics, the nearest immigration legal provider is two hours away.
Site Director Carrie Afanador had long dreamt of opening a welcome center for immigrants in Boone. In partnership with Alliance Bible Fellowship, ESL classes have been offered since spring, and in October 2022, Immigrant Connection of the High Country became an approved site. Now that this site exists in Boone, it will spare those seeking legal services from long drives and impossible lines and fees.
Carrie seeks to offer knowledge and hope through this site:“If I can help someone adjust their status or relieve some stress it is good for everybody. It’s not an easy, ‘get in line’ situation. There are all kinds of barriers. Even so, I want to communicate to every immigrant that they are valuable and a gift to our community.”
ic - NYC
New York, ny
IC - NYC operates out of a partnership between two sister churches in New York City - Resurrection Life in Manhattan and Esperanza de Vida in Queens. Through this partnership, IC - NYC is uniquely positioned to serve immigrants in both boroughs and beyond. Site Director Jenn Petersen hopes to open more IC - NYC offices to serve the roughly three million immigrants in the city. She shares, "The immigrant population in NYC is very underserved when it comes to immigration legal services, and the need has only increased, especially recently."
Esperanza de Vida, a bilingual church that has become a safe haven and place of belonging for immigrants and migrant workers, has already been serving the local community through food distribution programs and family events.
The staff at IC - NYC seek to provide sound legal services as well as hope to immigrant clients. "Immigrants have given up so much to pursue their dreams here. We want to come alongside them and extend tangible love and service to them."
st paul, mn
St. Paul Eastside, Minnesota is the most diverse zip code of the Twin Cities, and it is in the heart of this community that Immigrant Connection Mosaic opened in December of 2022. Mosaic Christian Community had been fostering the vision to open an immigration legal services site since its inception in 2013, and with the support of Immigrant Connection National, they were finally able to make this vision a reality. “The need for immigration legal services in the Twin Cities is way greater than the present capacity to meet those needs,” says Site Director Jourdan Suos.
This site's strong community connections and partnerships have positioned them as a safe neighbor and community center that provides basic health care, ESL classes, a refugee garden, and housing and safe parking for those experiencing homelessness - all in addition to immigration legal services. Jordan reflects, "Immigrants can feel so isolated when they don’t know where to go or what to do, or when they are afraid. We want to be a trusted place in the community where immigrants don’t feel alone or afraid.”