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On the Frontlines. Our community's response to the challenges facing immigrants in Central Texas Presentation by the Immigrant Services Network of Austin Immigration, Education and Our Future  February 6, 2009. Today’s Presentation.

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On the Frontlines

Our community's response to the challenges facing immigrants in Central Texas

Presentation by the Immigrant Services Network of Austin

Immigration, Education and Our Future February 6, 2009

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Today’s Presentation

  • Review themes and next steps from the 2006-2007 Immigrant Assessment

  • History of the Immigrant Services Network of Austin (ISNA)

  • Who is ISNA Now?

  • ISNA’s Current Work

  • Get Involved!

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The Immigrant Assessment

  • Brought about by demographic change in Travis County:

    • Between 1990 and 2005, the foreign-born population grew by 230% (about 45,000 to 148,000)

  • Stakeholders with a common interest partnered to explore these trends:

    • Partners included: Catholic Charities of Central Texas, City of Austin Commission on Immigrant Affairs, Community Action Network, Travis County Health and Human Services & Veterans Service

  • Two-part research process over 2006-2007:

    • Primary research (18 focus groups, a provider forum)

    • Secondary research (literature review, data analysis)

  • Explored seven key topics vis-à-vis immigrant issues

  • Major emerging themes were …

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What role do the public, private, and nonprofit sectors play in helping or hindering the integration of immigrants?

To what extent does the community’s response to other issues (such as basic needs and healthcare) accommodate the immigrant population?

How can the community capitalize upon immigrants’ economic and cultural contributions?


Immigrants impact the Travis County community.

What Next?

Acknowledge that immigrants are and will continue to be an integral part of the community.

Key Questions

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How can the community adapt existing institutions, systems, and planning efforts to be more inclusive of immigrant populations?

How can the community develop or expand capacity to serve immigrant populations/address immigrant issues that fall outside the traditional service delivery system?

What initiatives are taking place within immigrant communities? How can local resources support them?

Some immigrant sub-populations have higher needs and encounter greater challenges.


What Next?

Identify ways to improve service delivery to immigrants.

Key Questions

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What information do different stakeholders need, and how can this information be appropriately delivered to different sectors?

What information systems and outreach/training efforts already exist? How can we build on them?

If comprehensive immigration reform occurs, what potential impacts could be expected on the local level? What planning or action would be needed?

Immigration systems, and the laws and policies related to them, are complex, changing and frequently unclear.


What Next?

Convene stakeholders for information sharing.

Key Questions

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What are the community’s interests in meeting the needs of immigrant residents?

What policies can be developed or modified locally?

How can the local community best communicate its messages and who is best situated to do it?


Federal, state, and local authorities often disagree on who is responsible for the immigration issue.

What Next?

Impact policy.

Key Questions

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Action Since the Assessment immigrant residents?

  • Community Forum held June 2007

    • Formal release of the Assessment

    • Marked the end of the Assessment process and began the community process

  • Immigrant Services Network of Austin (ISNA) then took a lead on immigrant issues

    • First Immigrant Services Network started in 2003-Immigrant service providers began meeting quarterly for networking and information sharing

    • After the assessment, a natural fit for this group to steward next steps and take a new role as a planning/action body

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Overview of ISNA Now immigrant residents?

  • Mission: ISNA is a working group of diverse community stakeholders and immigrant service providers operating together to coordinate efforts, increase public awareness, and inform policy, in order to better serve the immigrant community.

  • Vision: ISNA promotes the success and well-being of immigrants in order to secure the long-term prosperity of the entire community.

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ISNA Membership immigrant residents?

  • American Gateways (formerly the Political Asylum Project of Austin)

  • Austin Community College

  • Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition

  • Austin Police Department, Victim Services

  • Austin Public Library

  • Catholic Charities of Central Texas

  • English at Work

  • Foundation Communities / Community Tax Centers

  • Immigration Counseling and Outreach Services

  • The Law Offices of Thomas J. Esparza, Jr.

  • Literacy Coalition of Central Texas

  • SafePlace

  • Travis County Health and Human Services & Veterans Service

  • Travis County Sheriff’s Office

  • Travis County Sheriff’s Office, Victim Services

  • Workers Defense Project / Proyecto Defensa Laboral (PDL

  • And several individual volunteers

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Other Contributors immigrant residents?

Austin Police Department, Office of the Community Liaison

Caritas of Austin

Casa Marianella / Posada Esperanza

City of Austin Commission on Immigrant Affairs

City of Austin Health and Human Services Department

Compass Bank

Consulate General of Mexico

Goodwill Industries of Central Texas

Texas Council on Family Violence

Texas Rio Grade Legal Aid

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service

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ISNA’s Value Platform immigrant residents?

  • We share information with each other, and educate and outreach to the community at large

  • We come together in order to have a stronger, broader voice on immigrant issues

  • We maintain ISNA as a neutral, non-political arena where stakeholders can convene in order to work towards local solutions

  • We engage and remain in dialogue with partners from all issue areas and sectors

  • We support one another in our respective work to care for the immigrant community

  • We respect the dignity and humanity of all immigrants, regardless of status

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ISNA’s Role in the Community immigrant residents?

  • Neutral Convener

    • A place where all parties can engage in a dialogue

  • Non-Political

    • Immigrant well-being and community prosperity as a framework

  • Inclusive Membership and Scope

    • Any person or organization who embraces the values platform has a right to participate

    • A forum to address a broad range of immigrant issues

  • Example of ISNA’s role in action:

    • ISNA’s role with “ICE in the Jail” issue

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Summary of Current Work immigrant residents?

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Public Awareness: immigrant residents? Welcoming Initiative

  • Purpose:

    • Change public dialogue and opinion about immigrants in Austin through public education and a communications campaign

  • Intended Uses:

    • Training and presentations at non-immigrant schools, church, civic organizations, etc.

  • Content:

    • A toolkit for speaking ambassadors

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Service Coordination: immigrant residents? Resource Directory

  • Purpose:

    • A referral resource to help effectively resettle immigrants in a respectful, efficient way by allowing them to gain access to appropriate, critical services.

  • Intended Uses:

    • For case workers and service providers to improve information & referral

  • Contents:

    • A directory of services needed by immigrants, including healthcare, English language instruction, basic needs, and more.

    • A compilation of other directories currently used in the central Texas community by case workers and service providers.

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Enforcement Response: immigrant residents? Family Safety Planning Toolkit

  • Purpose:

    • Educate immigrant residents about their rights.

    • Assist individuals and families with preparing an emergency plan for their household.

  • Intended Uses:

    • Providers and others working with immigrants can use the toolkit to help inform immigrants about their rights, and to help plan for their families’ well-being.

    • Providers can also distribute materials to clients.

  • Contents:

    • “Know Your Rights” information, family and children’s safety planning (including communication, guardianship, and medical planning), financial and legal planning, etc.

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Enforcement Response: immigrant residents? Community Raids Response Plan

  • Purpose:

    • An emergency first response plan for providers and other partners to respond to residents’ legal and human service needs during and after a worksite immigration raid. Based on an “Incident Command System” model.

  • Intended Uses

    • Organized response teams follow best-practice protocols before, during, and after a worksite raid (very similar to disaster response).

  • What is Needed

    • Skills, resources, and capacities to match to functions of the plan.

    • At higher levels of coordination: Directing operations, planning, documenting, organizing logistics, managing human resources, public relations, etc.

    • At the level of direct services: Translation (Spanish and other languages), mental health/crisis intervention, legal services, basic needs (food, emergency financial, etc), children’s services (variety of needs).

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How You Can Help immigrant residents?

  • Public Awareness Committee:

    • Volunteer to be a speaking ambassador (we will provide training & materials).

    • Request a presentation for your staff or board, to help change the public dialogue at your organization.

  • Service Coordination Committee:

    • Share existing directories or information on individual providers or services that should be included in the directory

    • When the directory is published, download at www.isnaustin.com and use it as appropriate in your organization.

    • Contribute to ISNA’s dialogue around how to improve coordination of services

  • Enforcement Response Committee:

    • When the toolkit is available, download at www.isnaustin.com and use it as appropriate in your organization.

    • Volunteer your agency, staff, or personal skills and resources for the emergency response plan.

    • Complete our online survey on raids response planning (we can email the link).

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Get Involved with ISNA immigrant residents?

  • General Meetings: Standing date!

    First Wednesday of the Month

    Palm Square Building (100 N. IH-35, 78701)

    10:30am – 12:00pm, Room 2307

    Participation is welcome at all levels and all committees!

  • ISNA website: www.isnaustin.com

  • For questions or more information, contact: info@isnaustin.com