Immigration advocacy goes local
As the prospect of Congress passing an overhaul of immigration law wanes, immigration advocacy groups are shifting their sights from the U.S. Capitol and focusing on their local communities.
They are forming neighborhood committees to help legal and illegal immigrants navigate deportation proceedings and learn English. They lobby local police and government officials to resist harsh enforcement and warn neighbors of immigration raids.
The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights created 21 family support networks this spring to set up a safety net for immigrant families whose relatives get deported, leaving spouses and children behind. Executive director Joshua Hoyt says the group is still pushing for immigration legislation introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., but realized communities should be the focus in the meantime.
"We said, 'We have to figure out a way to organize ourselves to provide support at the same time we challenge the policies,' " Hoyt says.
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