Our vision is driven by our grassroots leadership, with directly affected immigrants making the decisions on priorities, strategy, and day-to-day work to run the campaigns that are shifting power and changing lives. ACIJ has a formal Leadership Council of leaders representing immigrant communities across the state. The Leadership Council is the heart of our coalition that is driving our statewide work.
Black Immigrant Outreach
Black and Brown immigrant communities share many common struggles, but we also face different barriers; we believe that working together is crucial to achieving our goals. As a coalition for all immigrants, we recognize the need to engage more deeply with black immigrant communities in Alabama. We now have a full-time community organizer developing relationships with African and Afro-Caribbean immigrant communities, with the goal of bringing representatives into deeper engagement with our Leadership Council and decision-making process.
Our organization has taken a leading role in immigrant justice policy advocacy on the national and state level. We connect with immigrant voters ahead of major elections to educate them about the candidates and encourage them to vote. We hold regular workshops to build our members’ capacity to advocate for themselves, and we find opportunities each year to connect them with national and state legislators. We are also active members of several national networks, including FIRM (Fair Immigration Reform Movement) and NPNA (National Partnership for New Americans), and have been able to connect our community leaders to the national fight for immigration reform.
ACIJ uses a grassroots approach to prevent and respond rapidly to detention and deportation. We provide Know Your Rights workshops for immigrant communities and educate our members on creating a family emergency plan. We also work to empower community leaders to set up rapid response networks in their area to educate and prepare neighbors for actions they can take in case of a detention threat. In the past, we have mobilized our members to protest inhumane conditions at detention centers, and we connect immigrants with legal resources for detention.
ACIJ was established in the wake of HB 56 in 2011, when immigrants were targeted at our homes, jobs, and schools. From that moment on, we have worked to nurture the civic life of our communities. We want everyone to know that, regardless of their immigration status, they have civic rights and are important members of the social fabric of our state.
We are engaging immigrant communities in the most important civic duties, from registering to vote, voting locally and nationally, completing the census, and being active in our neighborhoods, towns, and schools.
Abrazando Nuestras Raíces
We recognize that our communities live under threat of discrimination, detention, and deportation, and they rely on the emotional support of their families to move forward with their lives. Many of our members were forced to leave their countries without the possibility of returning home, and have not seen their parents in over 10 years. We have a large population of people living in Alabama who have roots and family members in Mexico, so we work with Mexican state governments to obtain U.S. tourist visas for parents of our members. This program has also created an extraordinary opportunity for us to reach new communities and educate participants about civic engagement and their civil rights.
The work of changing narrative is built into the structure of our coalition and underlies our programmatic focuses. Most importantly, we encourage directly-impacted individuals to recognize the value of their experiences and lead our work in pursuing justice. We have already seen powerful examples of this in our coalition, particularly as our undocumented leaders have spoken out for themselves and challenged the narratives of migrant criminalization and manifest destiny. We have built alliances with unlikely partners through conversation and honest dialogue. We anticipate this impact to grow exponentially with the expansion of our storytelling initiatives, as we work to change the hearts and minds of people across Alabama.