On the last day of the 12th Annual "New American Dreams" National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC), local officials joined the participants to announce new immigrant-friendly policies.
Chief of Staff Alexis Wiley from the Mayor of Detroit’s office announced during the conference that the city is starting the Certified Welcoming process, a way to review and measure the city's progress in their efforts to enhance access and inclusion for immigrant residents.
The move is the latest step towards making the region more hospitable to immigrant residents. In 2016, the city began offering municipal ID’s to everyone regardless of citizenship. And in 2017, Wayne County Sheriff, Benny Napoleon said his department would limit its cooperation with ICE.
Oakland County Executive, Dave Coulter, also shared news with NIIC participants, announcing that the county he represents has passed a Welcoming County resolution and is officially becoming a Welcoming America member.
"We are excited to begin this new partnership with Oakland County," said Christine Sauvé, Welcoming Michigan Director.
This follows another important decision earlier this month, when the Oakland County Treasurer, Andy Meisner, announced a formal policy not to question the immigration or citizenship status of residents seeking the services of his office. This series of wins for communities of color is the result of the advocacy of local organizations like Michigan United, a member of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA).
“This is a great development, but it’s important to remember that a change for the better doesn’t happen on its own,” said Michigan United Immigrant Rights organizer, Adonis Flores. “It happens when we unite so our elected officials understand that immigrants are part of our communities. What benefits one is a benefit to all.”
NPNA is the lead host of the conference, that has been held in the Motor City of America since Saturday, with an attendance of over one thousand pro immigration and refugee leaders from all over the nation. The NIIC 2019 included plenaries and meetings on relevant issues for all communities, focused on social justice.
Today’s conferences included an overview of Detroit’s historic fights and wins on economy and labor and how migration has played a key role in that journey for the city and the Midwest region.
The three-day event ended on a high note with a plenary that celebrated important regional integration economic victories at the state and municipal levels and the role of immigrants as a transforming force for the future of America.
“As the NIIC 2019 comes to an end, we go back to our communities energized, with a sense of empowerment and satisfaction, a sense that all the hard work we do in favor of our families of color is worth every effort. We see the victories and enthusiasm, but also the bravery and commitment to make this change that we are provoking a permanent reality for all in America” said George Escobar, Chief of Services at CASA and Board member at NPNA.
The NIIC 2019 is an annual event organized by National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), a network representing 35 of the largest regional immigrant rights organizations in 37 states. Locally, the conference had three local co-hosts: Michigan United, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) and ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services), the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the United States.