We are inspired by the emerging Immigration Support Network in Bristol County, who are showing us what is possible with a decentralized model of organizing. The network is breaking down boundaries between communities, engaging in interpersonal and systemic transformation, and bridging the work of community organizations to produce greater unity, sharing, and love in Bristol. Please read on for an update from two of the ally-identified leaders. --Carly Margolis, Organizing Fellow at ECM
BY KELLY OCHOA AND ELIZABETH MURPHY, Unitarian Universalist Society of Fairhaven
The New Bedford Immigration Support Team continues to grow and expand with the help of Episcopal City Mission. It is doing some very inspiring and heartwarming work. The work is also messy, hard, and often terribly sad work. The team is walking alongside our immigrant friends and neighbors as they deal with the daily challenges of trying to make a life in a new home with such promise, yet so many insurmountable hurdles. It can be difficult to witness, but that makes the witnessing so much more critical.
As of this past Tuesday, the New Bedford Immigration Support Network has scheduled 198 rides from New Bedford to appointments in Burlington, Providence, Worcester, and Boston. While the majority of the focus has been in providing rides to our friends, the team has also been involved with supporting the Driver's License Bill in Massachusetts. The bill has now been renamed as Work and Family Mobility Act. Members of the team participated in a local march for licenses here in New Bedford as well as supported our immigrant friends who participated in the recent march from Framingham to the State House.
In the coming months, the team is working with ECM to organize a meeting between local immigrants and the Attorney General's office to discuss the predatory practice of Libre by Nexus, an immigration bond company that “frees” immigrants in jail in exchange for a GPS ankle bracelet they “rent” to them at $400/monthly. The team is working closely with two local non-profits, Community and Economic Development Center and the Coalition for Social Justice, to not only set up this meeting but also to connect our immigrant friends with more resources within the New Bedford area.