Aid for Immigrants and Refugees: An Opportunity for Librarians

By Mary Givins

I had the opportunity to attend the tenth annual National Immigrant Integration Conference, held December 10-12, 2017, in Phoenix. I attended workshops and plenary sessions highlighting what organizations are doing to help immigrants feel welcome and adjust to life in a new place. Organizations represented included immigrant rights groups, governmental agencies, educational institutions, ethnic organizations, businesses, and more.

With 14 tracks, it was hard to choose.

  1. Adult Education and Workforce;
  2. Business and the Economy;
  3. Criminalization, Detention and Deportation;
  4. DREAM and TPS;
  5. Economic Justice;
  6. Education: Policies and Practices Promoting Success for Immigrant, Refugee and English Learner Students;
  7. Fighting Hate;
  8. Financial Capability and Inclusion;
  9. Full Citizenship: Building Immigrants’ Political and Community Power;
  10. Global Migration;
  11. Health;
  12. Refugee Resettlement;
  13. State and Municipal Strategies;
  14. Welcoming Communities.

The most useful workshop I attended was a special session about getting qualified to fill out citizenship applications, called “Authorized Non-Attorney Immigration Law Practice: The Tool You Need to Protect Your Community Now,” conducted by Jack Holgren from the Catholic Legal Immigration Network. CLINIC is a national organization that works with a network of community legal immigration programs, including at least four library systems. They provide training and on-call assistance to help programs qualify as Department of Justice-recognized and accredited citizenship programs. There are three elements to DOJ accreditation. An organization, such as a library, can be recognized by the DOJ if they have an accredited representative on board and have some sort of on-call legal advice; there does not have to be a lawyer on staff. To become accredited, an individual must document training and be backed by a recognized organization. For more information and to sign up for training, go to the CLINIC website at https://cliniclegal.org/ . CLINIC can also function as the on-call legal advice for an organization that wishes to gain recognition.

Mary Givins is Assistant Manager and Teen Services Librarian with Pima County Public Library

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