Immigrants Thrive with Civic Involvement

As the debate over immigrants’ rights wages on, one important question arises. How can we as a country support not just the survival of immigrants in the United States, but further encourage their long-term success?

For one expert on immigration, success comes when immigrants actively participate in the community around them. Manuel Portillo, director of community engagement for the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, believes civic engagement is the key to success for immigrants in Philadelphia and around the country.

Immigration and Isolation

Immigrants settling in an unfamiliar city often feel afraid, anxious, and alone. Those feelings are compounded for immigrants who do not speak English. Unfamiliar with the culture and often unemployed, immigrants easily become isolated from the community around them. When they are isolated, they  rarely meet their full potential.

Benefits of Civic Engagement for Immigrants

Portillo believes that immigrants who become involved in their communities improve their language skills, build important relationships with mentors and friends, and access new professional and economic opportunities. They become an important part of their neighborhood, city, or town, and are empowered to create change. Civic engagement fosters a sense of belonging.

After 20 years of working with civic engagement, Portillo has seen what happens to immigrants who lose their voice. They are powerless to overcome problems such as poor public safety and inferior education. When immigrants organize and become involved, they gain power to fight for the values and issues important to them, including access to higher education and better-paying jobs.

Underemployment Among Immigrants

Through an initiative called the International Professionals Program, Portillo works with college-educated immigrants devastated by how lost they feel in their own city. Unemployed or underemployed, they feel overlooked — as if their education and skills are being wasted. For many immigrants, this is a profoundly emotional realization. This gap between qualified immigrants and economic opportunities inspired the creation of The Participant Advisory Council, which is designed to foster networking opportunities, charitable efforts, and civic engagement.

From that council, several successful programs have evolved designed to help immigrants develop leadership skills, access valuable economic resources, and become involved in local business and government. When immigrants have a voice in the community around them, they have power. They are more likely to succeed in whatever they choose to do and become in America.

As Manuel Portillo explains, immigrants often feel isolated and overwhelmed. When their immigration status is in jeopardy or they face other immigration and nationality law issues, those feelings can turn to fear. Compassionate, knowledgeable Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin &Griffin, P.C. can guide and assist clients through every step of the immigration process. They explain everything and answer questions, empowering clients to make the best legal decisions for themselves and their families.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers Surin & Griffin, P.C. Successfully Resolve Immigration and Nationality Law Issues

To schedule a consultation with a multilingual Philadelphia immigration lawyer, call 215-925-4435 or contact us online. Surin & Griffin, P.C. is located in Philadelphia and is proud to serve clients in and around Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, Delaware County, and the towns of Bala Cynwyd, Merion Station, Darby, Wynnewood, Sharon Hill, Upper Darby, Narberth, Folcroft, Cheltenham, Lansdowne, Glenolden, and Drexel Hill.