Subject: Together we stand strong

January 2018 Newsletter
John Donohue and Beverly Tangvik of Arbella Insurance Group open the new Arbella Foundation Immigrant Learning Center at the Irish International Immigrant Center along with Alejandra St. Guillen of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Advancement and Ronnie MIllar of the IIIC. 

I send you warm greetings from all at our immigrant welcome center in the heart of downtown Boston, where we are hard at work to provide increased services, advocacy, and community building activities in the new year. 

As the DACA negotiations continue in D.C., the nativist immigration forces are driving ahead with increased deportations, the end of TPS for Haitians and El Salvadorans, and restrictions of other forms of immigration relief. Make no mistake about it, all the talk of ending "chain migration" is motivated by race and demographics: 99% of the tens of thousands of deportations in the past year were people of color. The future of Dreamers is being held ransom. I am reminded of the words of German pastor Martin Niemöller, "first they came for the ___ and I did not speak out, because I was not a ___". 

In spite of this, our staff, volunteers, and the immigrants and refugees we serve remain strong and hopeful. Yesterday, we officially opened the Arbella Foundation Immigrant Learning Center. This new space has enabled us to increase the number of education classes and legal services clinics we provide in our downtown center. The Brazilian educator Paulo Freire said that “education is freedom”, and I would add that education is also empowerment. 
We are deeply grateful to the Arbella Foundation’s Board of Directors for their financial support, which enables the empowerment of more immigrants and refugees every day of the week. 

Finally, we are delighted to announce the publication of our 2017 Year in Review, and you can check it out here. Thank you, to each of you, for your friendship and partnership. 

Best wishes, 

Stronger Together: IIIC Supporting Haitian TPS Recipients
IIIC Immigration Attorney Cristina Dacchille-Freeman speaks at a rally to stand with Haitian TPS recipients.
Since the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the IIIC Legal Services team has worked with Haitian families to assist them with Temporary Protected Status (TPS). In November 2017, the presidential administration announced the termination of Haitian TPS effective July 2019. With this decision, tens of thousands of families will be evicted from a country they have called home for nearly a decade, separated from their American-born family members, and forced to start all over again.

Most of the families we started helping eight years ago continue to seek our support today. Senior Immigration Attorney Becky Minahan explains, "I can remember back to when a lot of families first arrived right after the earthquake - how families were traumatized by that disaster and needed medical treatment for injuries and PTSD. We would then see them come in every renewal period and notice how they had adjusted, recovered, improved their lives, and integrated into the Boston community. It really makes all of this news even more devastating". 

Following the termination announcement, families waited for two months to learn the details about their renewal and the status of their work authorization. Past administrations would have made this information available within days of termination. With this unprecedented delay, unnecessary panic and worry spread across the Haitian community, and many were left uncertain about whether they would be able to continue working in the US. In the meantime, the IIIC advocated with local elected officials in an attempt to get more information.

Details of renewal and work authorization were made available last week, and the IIIC is notifying families and scheduling renewal appointments. We anticipate that we will assist at least 200 Haitian families in the coming weeks and provide consultations after the renewal period to assess what options TPS recipients have for continued status in the US. 

We are grateful for our attorneys, paralegals, and volunteers who will work diligently over the coming months to ensure that we can serve all of the families who request our assistance. We are also thankful for our partners who make this critical work possible with their support. 

Action Alert: MIRA and the Safe Communities Coalition is coordinating a day of action on January 31st in support of the Safe Communities Act. Please click here for more information. 
Volunteer Spotlight: Katie Ahern

The IIIC is delighted to host Katie Ahern, Boston College Masters of Social Work student, who will complete her field placement with our Wellness Service team through April. As a macro-level student, Katie is interested in increasing access to mental health resources and community education.

Katie was drawn to the IIIC because of her family’s background. Katie says, “working with the immigrant population is close to my heart, as I come from a family of Irish immigrants from Limerick and Kerry”. Katie is hoping to improve access to services for immigrant families, and is excited to deepen her understanding of the mental health needs across this community.

As part of our Wellness Services team, Katie is updating community resources, managing lunchtime wellness workshops, and coordinating our social media efforts. Katie is also designing community based workshops, which will address substance abuse and wellness issues geared towards providing accessible mental health resources to immigrant families and the Irish diaspora.

Of her time so far at the IIIC, Katie says “I am already so fond and proud of the Irish International Immigrant Center. I’m excited for a year filled with creating positive change and learning from such a dedicated team of passionate individuals”.

Queen's Student Builds on her Future in Boston
Pictured above left to right: Paul Pelan, IIIC; Arthur Choo, Choo & Company Architects; Chris Rooney, Architecture Intern, Queen's University Befast; Eve Russell, Architecture Intern, Queen's University Belfast; Martine Morrison, Choo & Company Architects
When Eve Russell, a Master’s candidate of Architecture from Queen’s University Belfast, was considering her future following the completion of her degree, she knew that an internship in the U.S. would give her a real advantage. All she needed was the right opportunity.

It was only fitting that when Eve received an email detailing a 12 month internship with Boston-based Choo & Company Architects, in partnership with the Irish International Immigrant Center, she decided to take a leap and seize the opportunity. Weeks passed after she sent in her portfolio and, without hearing back from the firm, Eve begrudgingly accepted that the opportunity had passed. She was completely taken by surprise, one quiet Friday evening, when an offer letter appeared in her inbox.

All that Eve knew about US social and workplace culture derived from American sitcoms that she grew up watching from across the Atlantic. It was with great excitement and curiosity that she accepted the offer, and with the support and guidance from IIIC's Lisa-Marie Nathan, Eve was able to arrive safely and assuredly in the US.

Four months later, Eve lives in an apartment slightly outside Downtown Boston, and is enthralled with the vibrant American atmosphere that she had dreamed of back home in Belfast. Her favorite spot, a cozy café just a few blocks down from her accommodation, is serendipitously reminiscent of that featured in her favorite show, “Friends”. Since her arrival, Eve has attended lectures at Harvard and MIT, trips to cities across the country, salsa and wing dancing lessons, concerts, museums, art galleries, and even her first American Thanksgiving.

Of her position at Choo & Company, Eve says that “the job itself is providing me with hands-on experience within my profession, and field measuring is even giving me a chance to explore the array of buildings that the city has to offer”. We wish Eve all of the best as she continues with her American adventure and thank Choo & Company Architects for their fantastic partnership throughout this experience. 

We are hiring!

The IIIC is looking to hire an Inclusion Coordinator to facilitate our community building activities. Please find the role description and application information here

Join us on February 1st at 6:00pm for an evening of music, art, and storytelling with Palaver Strings
The Irish International Immigrant Center empowers more than 3,500 immigrants and refugees annually, from over 120 different countries, by providing the legal, wellness, and education support they need to build successful lives. Building on our Irish roots of welcoming others and social justice, we help newcomers find community and we are committed to standing up for immigration policies that are humane and just. America is a nation of immigrants, and despite the current political climate, we are proud to continue the tradition of welcoming immigrants to this country and working together to create a better future for all. 

Please support our work by making a donation.

The IIIC is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. All donations are tax-deductible. | 617.542.7654
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