Crossing Boundaries: How Local Innovations in Immigrant Integration are Expanding our Notions of Democracy

Date: 

Thursday, May 1, 2014, 4:10pm to 5:30pm

Location: 

Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, 124 Mt. Auburn St., Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA

Child with flagKamal Essaheb, Immigration Policy Attorney, National Immigration Law Center
Tricia Farley-Bouvier, Massachusetts State Representative (D-Pittsfield)
Kica Matos, Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice, Center for Community Change
Carlos Saavedra, Co-founder of United We Dream
Quinton Mayne, Assistant Professor of Public Policy (Moderator)

Co-sponsored with the HKS Progressive Caucus and Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy

About the Event
Immigration policy reform and paths to citizenship are hotly contested topics on the national stage. Yet the impact of immigration is most often experienced by our cities and towns. Communities across the country are on the frontlines dealing with important questions like how immigration challenges our notions of justice and equality.

This discussion will highlight trends and salient efforts by state and local governments to promote and support the integration of immigrant communities into civic and political life. Efforts across the nation include access to higher education, drivers licensing, identifications cards, law enforcement, and even voting. What has worked, what did not work, and what can we learn from each effort? Also, what have these efforts taught us about the nature and health of American democracy? Just how far should we extend citizenship, voice, representation, access, engagement, and our other democratic values and rights?

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About the Speakers

Kamal Essaheb engages in advocacy and technical assistance relating to state and local enforcement of immigration law and access to legal status for immigrants. At NILC, his advocacy focuses on the passage of the DREAM Act, implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and state and local enforcement of immigration law. Prior to joining NILC, Mr. Essaheb was a practicing immigration attorney at CUNY Citizenship Now, a non-profit immigration legal services provider in New York City. Mr. Essaheb is a graduate of Fordham Law School, where he was a Stein Scholar in Public Interest Law and Ethics. He is an immigrant from Morocco and is fluent in Arabic.

Tricia Farley-Bouvier is a native of Pittsfield, Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and three children. She began her career as a teacher, earning her B.A. in Special Education from Salve Regina University in 1986 and completing her M.A. in Education at the University of Connecticut in 1991. She taught students overseas in Belize and Uruguay and worked to support Berkshire County’s immigrant population as Director of the Literacy Network of South Berkshire. After serving four years as a City Counselor, Representative Farley-Bouvier was elected to the state legislature in October 2011. Her priorities are to ensure the well-being of vulnerable populations including elders, children and those with disabilities. This involves securing funding for crucial services that allow seniors to age in place with dignity, ensuring that children get the best possible K-16 education, and advocating for the disabled to receive the services that will guarantee them high quality of life.

Kica Matos is Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at the Center for Community Change, an organization whose mission is to develop the power and capacity of low income people to have a significant impact in improving their communities and the policies and institutions that affect their lives. Ms. Matos has extensive experience as an advocate, community organizer and lawyer. She was Deputy Mayor in the city of New Haven, where she administered all of the city’s community programs and launched a number of programs and initiatives that included prisoner re-entry, youth and immigration integration. She oversaw the creation of the groundbreaking Elm City Resident Card, an identification card for all residents aimed to address public safety concerns among the immigrant population and create opportunities to engage them in civic life. Ms. Matos has a B.A. from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, an M.A. from the New School and a J.D. from Cornell Law School. She is a recipient of numerous awards, including the 2005 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award and New Haven Register’s “Person of the Year” award.

Carlos Saavedra joined other undocumented students in his local high school in East Boston, Massachusetts to start a campaign to bring access to higher education to many of them. He co-founded the Student Immigrant Movement, a statewide organization for undocumented youth in MA. After Carlos next became the national coordinator of the first national organization of undocumented youth, the United We Dream Network, and for this work in 2011 he was awarded the Activist of the year award by The Nation magazine. Carlos then joined the End our Pain and Right 2 DREAM campaigns that pressured President Obama to grant relief to undocumented students on June 15th 2012 – one of the biggest victories in the last 26 years of the immigrant rights movement. Carlos has trained over 4,000 people in the arts of organizing and social change in 20 states. He is currently a consultant to immigrant rights organizations and is developing a training institute for social change.

Quinton Mayne is an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School. He received his Ph.D. from the Department of Politics at Princeton University and came to the Ash Center as a Democracy Fellow from the European University Institute where he was a Max Weber Fellow. His research and teaching interests lie in the area of comparative politics with a focus on public opinion, political participation, and political institutions. Mayne’s primary research focus is on better understanding how the design of democratic political institutions affects how citizens think and act politically. A particular concern of his work is studying how public opinion and political behavior are shaped by cross-level interactions between individual-level characteristics on the one hand and features of the socio-economic and institutional environment on the other.

Suggested Readings
WBUR, Why Immigrant-Friendly Legislation Has Stalled in Mass. (Asma Khalid): “States across the country are taking immigration issues into their own hands... But, here in Massachusetts, there’s been little appetite for such legislation.”