These are challenging times for immigrant communities. Increased deportations and detentions by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, uncertainty about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, harmful political rhetoric and outright racism are putting families on the defensive. But there are so many reasons for optimism. Across the South, there are people, organizations and networks deploying a range of strategies to improve immigrants’ quality of life.
The North Carolina Congress of Latino Organizations is a statewide civic engagement network that helps ensure fair treatment and equal opportunities for immigrants. It gets results by employing a proven cycle of relational organizing:
- Identifying and training leaders from diverse member institutions, including congregations, community centers, unions and nonprofits
- Building relationships among leaders and groups across race, religion and national origin
- Discerning, researching and negotiating issues affecting communities to develop a common agenda
- Developing solutions and engaging in strategic actions, frequently through public negotiations with decisionmakers
- Reflecting and evaluating throughout the cycle to sharpen leaders’ understanding and skills
Working this way, the Latino Congress has effected systemic change at the local, state and federal level, from health and education policy to workers’ rights and police-community relations. This video illustrates the cycle of organizing and highlights a few of the victories members of the Latino Congress have been able to achieve by building power and working together.