WASHINGTON — Ahead of the midterm elections and following a campaign season mired in questionable voter disenfranchisement efforts in Georgia, Texas and North Dakota, the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA)is gearing up for its National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) 2018 by vowing to unravel the anti-democratic practices created through policy changes, administrative decree and bureaucratic stalling that are keeping thousands of eligible voters and eligible residents seeking citizenship from casting ballots.
Central to the mission of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) is the need to expand access to citizenship to all eligible residents. For this reason, the National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC) 2018 that will be held from Dec 9-11 in Arlington, Va., will bring together organizers, policy experts, and elected officials to strategize and amplify policies that will challenge restrictive voter eligibility laws. It will also include over 30 workshops and strategy sessions on issues such as From Resistance to Victory: Strategies for Building Legal Protections for Vulnerable Immigrants; America as a Refuge: Refugee Resettlement, Asylum, TPS & the Refugee Crisis; and Welcoming & Inclusive Society: Grassroots, State & Municipal Government Strategies.
The conference is also the culmination of a year working to address the growing backlog of naturalization applications through NPNA’s “Tear Down the 2nd Wall” Campaign. Earlier this year NPNA, along with a coalition of immigrant rights groups, sued the federal government for its intentional delay of the processing of naturalization applications, which has created a backlog that has ballooned to over 750,000 since President Barack Obama left office.
“Right now this is our most important mission,” said Steve Choi from the New York Immigration Coalition and Co-Chair for the National Partnership for New Americans. “We are fighting an uphill battle but that’s all the more reason we have to continue to educate the public. This is the moment that tests us as a country. Will we still believe in the idea of America as a melting pot, a safe harbor? Will we ensure that our all Americans receive equal protection and enfranchisement under the law?”
For those working on the frontlines of the immigration and refugee battles, the conference is an essential space to connect with colleagues and strengthen collaborations.
“During some of the biggest moments of turmoil and transition for immigrants and refugees in this country, NIIC has provided a unique space for our communities to come together, process what we are going through, and plan how to move forward together,” said Amaha Kassa, Executive Director, African Communities Together, which is a member of the NIIC Steering Committee.
“As a child of immigrants, mother of two kids, an advocate and an organizer, NIIC is an expression of the power of our collective communities,” said Bonnie Kwon, Director of Network Innovation at the Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum (APIAHF), which also serves on the NIIC Steering Committee. “At NIIC we’re able to create space and hold inspiration for the immigrant justice fight.”