New American Democracy Initiative Supports Civic Engagement Among Youth Immigrants

May 18, 2018

The Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) is dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civic, cultural, social and political life of a diverse society. ICIRR educates and organizes immigrant and refugee communities to assert their rights; promotes citizenship and civic participation; monitors, analyzes and advocates on immigrant-related issues; and, informs the public about the contributions of immigrants and refugees. Thanks to Voqal’s support, ICIRR successfully implemented its New Americans Democracy Initiative to enhance youth immigrant civic engagement.

The increased civic engagement among youth immigrants resulting from the ICIRR’s New Americans Democracy Initiative is clear. Whether it’s the 250 engaged young people who registered over 16,000 new voters or the over 500 young immigrants who benefited from leadership trainings, this campaign led to concrete advances for civic participation among the young immigrant community. However, as impressive as these numbers are, the greatest impact is shown by the empowerment this campaign has created for those who previously lacked a voice in the issues affecting their day-to-day lives.

ICIRR hosted an immigrant youth conference for 150 young people in early March to commemorate the day that young people in Illinois came “Out of the Shadows” and proudly announced that they were undocumented and unafraid. This event not only showed young immigrants the importance of speaking out against discriminatory policies but also provided undocumented immigrants the support and tools needed to speak out in an increasingly discouraging and sometimes scary political environment.

“The importance of our work sometimes cannot be counted by the numbers, but must be measured by the lives impacted with an act of compassion, love and empathy.” This quote from an ICIRR member illustrates the importance of this campaign. As strong believers in an engaged, empowered public, Voqal is proud to have supported this effort to give young immigrants a voice and looks forward to the continued work of ICIRR to advance a more equitable society for immigrants in Illinois.