Immigrant & Refugee Support
Lowell's population is built on immigrants and refugees, from the early mill days to today's diverse community. The city is still a destination for those entering the United States, and a place where existing communities and neighborhoods of Latino, Southeast Asian, and African residents welcome other newcomers.
To assure their well-being after they arrive, supports and services for immigrants and refugees are needed during the first five years of residency, at a minimum. Initial tasks, such as where to live and how to buy groceries, give way to complex, long-term needs - upgrading skills for jobs that sustain their families, understanding school and government systems, connecting with the community, and mastering English, to name a few.
Lowell Alliance is committed to helping agencies and residents create a stronger support system for Lowell's immigrant and refugee communities. You'll find materials here on our website that address critical, current immigrant-refugee issues. We are also engaged in the following initiatives and activities to help create needed positive change in Lowell's newcomer support system.
Refugee-Immigrant Support Coalition (RISC)
How do refugees and newcomers fare, after moving to Lowell? How well are they integrated into our community? What needs are being supported, and where are gaps in services?
While many individuals and agencies work hard in Lowell to support newcomers, connecting and extending services over time - up to five year or more - is a concern, along with large and notable service gaps.
A group of Lowell organizations formed RISC in early 2017 to address these issues and begin creating a supportive and obvious long-term safety net for refugees and immigrants who resettle in the City.
Please join us on the fourth Friday of each month to participate in this very important work and conversation. For updates, add yourself to the RISC email list by contacting Mary Tauras at Lowell Alliance.
Community Forums and Clinics
We held our first annual Citizenship Clinic in the fall of 2016, in partnership with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA). The clinic provided one-on-one support for local area Green Card holders who were eligible to apply for citizenship, a complex and daunting task. MIRA also helped applicants track their paperwork afterward.
Our second annual free Citizenship Clinic will take place November 11, 2017. Pre-registration is required - contact Bethany Gamble at the International Institute of New England - Lowell to sign up. You can view and download a flier with more information here.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
In response to federal changes regarding the rights of immigrants and refugees, Lowell Alliance hosted a spring 2017 evening presentation with the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) to "train the trainers" about the rights of individuals who encounter law enforcement.
The Know Your Rights workshop dealt with how families can prepare, and which local agencies can help. We will continue to monitor changes and offer support to residents as needed.
Annual Refugee Conference
Started in 2002 by Lowell Public Schools and community partners as a response to the needs of Lowell's refugees, the conference brings stakeholders, supporters, and residents together around important issues in the refugee community.
As as collaborator, Lowell Alliance helped plan and organize this year's conference. Key topics included "Know Your Rights" workshop provided by the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), and more.
The conference features speakers, workshops, lunch, and networking. Collaborators who organized the 2017 conference included Lowell Public Schools, Middlesex Community College, YWCA Lowell, IINE Lowell, Lowell Community Health Center, SayDaNar, The African Community Center of Lowell, Lowell Police Department, and Lowell Alliance.