As we await a decision from the Supreme Court on President Obama's historic actions on immigration, immigrant communities are getting ready to implement the victory. If the Supreme Court rules in our favor, an estimated 38,000 undocumented immigrants in Tennessee will be able to apply for deportation relief. To make this opportunity a reality for all DACA/DAPA eligible families, we're building a corps of trained volunteers ready to educate their community, identity potentially eligible applicants, and help individuals gather the many documents that will be needed to establish their eligibility.
Learning from the successful roll out of the Affordable Care Act and the community based, "navigator" model, the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) has developed an intensive training program to equip immigrant community leaders with the skills and tools to be "community navigators" and reduce barriers to applying for DACA and DAPA. This spring we've held three, two day Community Navigators trainings for more than 80 participants in Nashville, Memphis, and Chattanooga.
Our Community Navigators training is designed to give participants an overview of immigration laws and policies while training them on best practices for information sharing, pre-screening for DACA+/DAPA programs, and general outreach and service delivery strategies. Before jumping into the content of the training, participants begin by sharing one word that comes to mind when they hear "U.S. Immigration System." Not surprisingly, the responses were "broken", "fear". "unjust", and "inhumane".
By connecting with participant's lived experiences, the Community Navigators Training combines popular education and skills training to prepare leaders with specialized information on administrative relief so that they can provide effective and accurate information to their communities. Acting as links between their communities, legal service organizations, and government representatives, community navigators are trained to recommend authorized legal services, assist with pre-screening for eligibility, and share accurate information on DACA+/DAPA. Having a trained network of community leaders ready to assist in the distribution of information and getting their friends ready to apply will be critical to the success of our implementation work. Iris, who participated in the Memphis training, says that she "looks forward to the opportunities that we'll have over the coming months to share all that we've learned, as well as equip our community to continue to fight for more systemic changes to halt mass deportations."