For over 45 years the Immigrants’ Assistance Center (IAC) has been at the forefront of providing a broad range of services to assist the immigrant community integrate and often attain citizenship status. The communities that IAC serves are primarily Portuguese, Cape Verdean and Spanish, although the client base is incredibly diverse. Services offered include but are not limited to the following:
Assist immigrant families to advocate for their children’s education
Assist families in navigating the complex healthcare system
Assist elders and families in accessing critical social services
Teach English as a second language
Guidance and support to attaining citizenship
Please visit the IAC’s website for a complete description of it’s history and programs: www.immigrantsassistancecenter.org
AN UNPRECEDENTED YEAR
As we reported in our first Summer Newsletter since January 2017, President Trump’s Executive Orders regarding all immigrants have caused extreme fear and insecurity in the immigrant population, resulting in increased demand for IAC’s services. I take this opportunity to thank all of those who have responded to this increasingly, and ongoing fearful and dangerous time for all immigrants, whether DACA “dreamers”, TPS arrivals, undocumented and even green card holders. The outpouring of generosity of so many individuals, Greater New Bedford area companies and charitable foundations of their time, their donations, and their in-kind services is unprecedented. I speak for all of us who work at IAC when I say how very grateful, appreciative and overwhelmed we are by these responses.
This outpouring of concern has raised over $500,000; more than the IAC has ever raised. Unprecedented. My heartfelt and personal thanks to each and every one of you.
My heartfelt thanks as well to all the engaged volunteers who come in to tutor, help fill out citizenship applications, work with students, to those who have produced a simple brochure explaining immigration issues in the US and clarifying key definitions, policies, and laws. This brochure is available at the IAC office.
Helena DaSilva Hughes
U.S. CITIZEN APPLICATIONS
The IAC continues to see an increase in immigrants inquiring and then taking the appropriate steps to become a U.S. citizen. This past year 904 naturalizations applications were completed and submitted to United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) for approval compared to approximately 150 applications per year in past years. Unprecedented!
HOLIDAY & EARLY WINTER HIGHLIGHTS
Over the holidays the IAC help distribute 205 Thanksgiving turkey baskets.
The IAC held our Children’s Christmas Party which included presents, games, delicious food and a visit from Santa Claus for 75 children on December 19th.
And the IAC held our annual Elders Christmas Party for 50 seniors from the surrounding areas on December 21st.
On the 29th of January, Helena met with staff members Adrienne Viarengo, Elizabeth Gervacio and Gilbert Calderin from Elizabeth Warren’s Office, wanting to make a short informational video about the IAC, immigration policies and current affairs. Their goal was to highlight the IAC, and have the video available on Senator Warren’s official social media channels.
Helena also met with Representative William Keating, also wanting to learn more about local immigrant issues as well.
NEW & EXCITING PARTNERSHIP: the AMIGOS Program
Over the summer, Helena participated in an Immigration Forum, held in Marion. One of the attendees – Jonathan Sirois, Chair, Modern & Classical Languages at Tabor Academy met with her and together with the Roosevelt Middle School Principal, Daniel Bossoit, have set up a collaborative program between Tabor’s Spanish class students and Roosevelt’s English learner students and teachers. This program intends to be rewarding for both Tabor students and middle schoolers at Roosevelt Middle School.
The program, AMIGOS, (A Multicultural International Guidance Outreach Service) designed by Helena and her team provides language support to non-English speaking students who struggle to connect and engage in the classroom. The goals here are that Tabor’s Spanish students, who are training in interview skills and transcription techniques, can connect with the Roosevelt students to provide homework and ESOL tutoring help, forge genuine friendships with the middle school Spanish speaking students, act as their advocates, help tell their stories and basically help them navigate life in middle and high school in the US. This is a win/win for both the Tabor and Roosevelt students.
ACRONYMS – what?
TPS – Temporary Protected Status
LPR – Legal Permanent Resident
INS – Immigration Naturalization Services
Can you answer these government questions? Every individual going through the pathway to citizenship classes must answer 100 history and government questions.
1. What do we call the first ten amendments to the Constitution? (the Bill of Rights)
2. What is the capitol of your state? (Boston)
3. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful? (checks and balances)
4.What is the “rule of law”?(Government is the rule of law, No one is above the law)
5. What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress? (the Senate and House of Representatives)
The Immigrants’Assistance Center will hold our Annual Spring Fundraiser this year on Friday March 30th, from 6 – 10PM at the Harbor View Room at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Ticket price is $50 per person and include hors d’oeuvres and entertainment. There will be a cash bar. The IAC relies on these fundraising events to provide services to the immigrant community in this time of uncertainty for the immigrant community. Be sure to get your tickets. Available on line at www.immigrantsassistancecenter.org for further information.
The IAC is planning an Immigrant Family Preparedness Event on Thursday, February 22nd from 10:30 – 12:30 at the Immigrants’ Assistance Center. Emily B. Leung, Staff Attorney from the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute will present. This training will review best practices in family preparedness for families with one or more family members who are at risk for immigration detention and/or deportation, including various forms of guardianship and caregiver arrangements for children who should be planned for in the event that a parent is detained or deported.
This training is designed for the health care provider, social worker, guidance and school personnel as well as others who work closely with immigrant families.
MORRISSEY BLVD HEADLINES FUNDRAISING EVENT – a benefit concert with all proceeds going to the Immigrants’ Assistance Center.
The Morrissey Blvd band, comprising Zan, Zoelle, Henri and Wilson Morrissey, are hosting an event FEBRUARY 24, 5 – 8PM at Greasy Luck Brewpub in downtown New Bedford. Tickets are $5 per person or $10 per family.
The Morrissey kids, have been following the DACA debate since the beginning of the Trump Presidency. They were rocked by the idea that kids that came to the US with their parents at very young ages might be sent back to a country they have never known. They first felt shock, then anger and then a desire to do something. They connected with a family friend, Helena DaSilva Hughes, our Director, and the idea of a benefit concert with all ticket sales and donations going directly to the IAC was born.
Musically, they have developed a funky upbeat sound, with a range of their favorite music and artists from Ed Sheeran, Justin Timberlake, Jason Miraz, to Stevie Wonder, The Jackson Five, the Temptations, to Jimi Hendrix, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Cash and the Rolling Stones.
They have invited some of their musical friends to perform with them – Marcus Monteiro, Jason Kelly, Putnam Murdock, Jackie Santos and his son, Joaquin.
You don’t want to miss this upbeat event! To purchase tickets, again $5 per person and $10 per family go to: https://morrisseyblvdconcert.ticketbud.com.
Check out the new FaceBook Event page https://www.facebook.com/MorrisseyBlvdBand/
Heartfelt thanks to the following Foundations and Corporations DONATIONS 2017
Bristol County Savings Foundation
Bristol County House of Correction
Coolidge/Boreiko Family Fund
Fiber Optics Center
First Citizens Federal Credit Union
Gidwitz Family Foundation
Grace Episcopal Church
Grimshaw Gudewicz Charitable Foundation
H. Loeb Corporation
Harvard Pilgrim Health
Henry H. Crapo Foundation Fund
James Arnold Fund
J.S. Moran & Associates
Joseph Abboud Manufacturing Corporation
Joseph Barry Investment Advisors
Joseph Bascom Charitable Foundation
Mattapoisett Congregational Church
Robert Feingold & Associates
RSF Global Community Fund
Sailors’ Snug Harbor of Boston
Senior Whole Health
Tufts Health Plan
United health Care
Unitarian Universalist Society
Victory Human Services
Your Cause of New York Life