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On International Women’s Day, NPNA Recognizes Community Navigators Who Serve and Protect their Communities Every Day

WASHINGTON – In celebration of International Women’s Day 2019, the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) applauds and recognizes the outstanding work of hundreds of immigrant women nationwide who are helping their communities one person at a time through a program that serves immigrants while empowering women.

The Women Empowered to Lead (WE Lead) Community Navigator Training Program – an initiative launched in 2017 by NPNA, Jones Day Law Firm, and Cities for Citizenship (C4C) – has trained over 700 immigrant women as “community navigators” to serve and protect their communities by providing critical immigration services, including legal translation and information sharing on topics such as know-your-rights, citizenship, and deportation defense. Since 2017, WE Lead navigators have reached and assisted over 75,000 individuals through their work.

At a time when immigrants feel under attack in many communities across the nation, WE Lead empowers women by giving them grassroots structures to protect their communities, take charge of their own lives, and empower others to become involved.

“This work opened new doors for me and helped me grow,” said Melina Gonzalez, a WE Lead navigator with the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) who is now working on becoming a government-accredited translator. “I visited a detention center in Laredo (Texas) twice now. It’s been both the most painful and rewarding experience of my career, especially as an immigrant woman and mother who shares their pain.”

Gonzalez, who immigrated from Mexico as a teenager, is now aiding women apprehended for crossing the border and seeking asylum by providing translation during their credible fear interviews. She also traveled to Dublin, Ireland, last year as a WE Lead representative to the Transatlantic Migrant Democracy Dialogue training, a network that trains and connects immigrant and refugee leaders in the U.S. and Europe to build alliances worldwide. The trip allowed her to share her work as a community navigator, meet other immigrant advocates from around the world, and learn about the migration paths and journeys of people just like her.

“Women are fleeing violence, and desperate situations all over the world, and want and deserve a future with secure housing, education, and opportunities for their families,” she said. 

Many community navigators say such transformative work helps them realize the value of their life experiences and forge new career paths.

“For me, it is important to be a community navigator because I have seen and met many immigrants who need help. I have a friend with cancer who paid her taxes for 20 years but cannot access social security since she is undocumented. This is a country of migrants and we all deserve to be treated well without fear of deportation,” says Carmen Ivonne, Texas Organizing Project, WE Lead navigator.

On March 8th, we celebrate the achievements of all women and the WE Lead navigators via local events and trainings.  In New York City, WE Lead navigators will come together with the local partner, New York Immigration Coalition, and Jones Day Law Firm, for a “train-the-trainer” session for community navigators and Jones Day staff to be educated on the issue of public charge and health-care policy.

For more information on Friday’s event and programs in other cities contact Susana Flores or Fernanda Durand.

WE Lead Partnerships Across the United States 

 Chicago, IL: The Resurrection Project, City of Chicago, Jones Day
Cleveland, OH: Global Cleveland, City of Cleveland, Jones Day
Detroit, MI: Michigan United, Jones Day
Houston, TX: Texas Organizing Project (TOP), City of Houston, Jones Day
Los Angeles, CA: Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of LA (CHIRLA), City of Los Angeles, Jones Day
New York City, NY: New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), New York City, Jones Day 

The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), Jones Day Law Firm and Cities for Citizenship (C4C) launched the Women Empowered to Lead – WE Lead Community Navigator Training Program that trains immigrant women to provide immigrant legal services and puts them on a career path to achieve their professional goals.

The National Partnership for New Americans, a national, multiethnic, multiracial partnership of immigrants and refugee rights organizations across 31 states who work to promote citizenship and integration among our diverse immigrant and refugee communities for the benefit of all Americans.
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