United African Organization

UAO aims to serve as the African Community Resource Clearinghouse wherein constituents gather, access information, share experiences, exchange views, and coordinate organizational capacity development. UAO's hub of resources on this website is intended to assist community members in navigating services, programs and resources that are available to help them cope better in the United States.

African Youth Forum Round-Up!

April 2, 2013SarahBlog, Photo Reel

Click photo to see full album! (Photos © Helen Gebregiorgis)

The African Youth Forum, held on March 30, 2013, brought together youth to discuss important issues affecting our communities and provided a space for engagement and interaction.

The Know Your Rights Project led a workshop on Incarceration and the Prison Industrial Complex. Dr. Horace Hall of DePaul University challenged the audience on Racism and Education. The Immigrant Youth Justice League informed attendees about the challenges and fight for Immigration Reform and the work of undocumented youth.

Performances by Umuada Ure dance troupe of Umu Igbo Alliance, the drumming ensemble, W.Side Story/AfriCaribbean Connections ofAfter School Matters, and rapper B1Swagger made the event even more memorable.

The Forum challenged youth from diverse backgrounds, whether native-born or immigrant, to be advocates for change and build bridges through dialogue.

UAO would like to extend a special thank you to thevolunteers, Brown Sugar Bakery, Bryan Echols, and Chioma Anigbogu for making the event a success!

For more information on how to get involved with the African Youth Forum, please contact events@uniteafricans.org.

 

 

PHOTO REEL: CIR Rally 3/22/13 & African Community Forum 3/23/13!

March 27, 2013SarahBlog, Events, Photo Reel

On Friday, March 22nd, UAO and allies participated in a protest and civil disobedience to demand the Gang of 8 to produce a bill on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). One day later, UAO hosted it’s African Community Forum on CIR and how the proposed removal of the Diversity Visa Lottery Program would negatively affect future African immigrants to the United States. Here are photos from our actions!

(Click each photo to see full album)

UAO staff and community members pictured at CIR Rally

UAO Executive Director Alie Kabba pictured with African community leaders and ICIRR’s Fred Tsao

 

African Community Forum: Comprehensive Immigration Reform

March 20, 2013SarahBlog

The Obama Administration and Congress are working on a bi-partisan effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform. But what does it mean for your community?

You are invited to our African Community Forum to understand how immigration reform affects you, your family, and friends!

Saturday, March 23rd

 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm

IIT Tower Building, floor 6

Chicago, IL 60616

RSVP TODAY!

Get information |  Ask questions | Raise concerns | Share your story

It is FREE and open to the public. Seating is limited.

For more information, call us at: 312-949-9980

Migration Policy Institute Press Release: Vision for Pragmatic U.S. Immigration Policy Reform

March 13, 2013SarahBlog

MPI President Sketches Vision for Pragmatic U.S. Immigration Policy Reform in American Prospect Magazine Cover Story

WASHINGTON — In the cover story in the latest edition of The American Prospect magazine¸ Migration Policy Institute President Demetrios Papademetriou tackles some of the major challenges Congress must resolve if it is to create an immigration system in the national interest — now and for the future.

The article, The Fundamentals of Immigration Reform, also provides an overview of the policies, politics and errors of omission and commission that have created the antiquated, inflexible immigration system that the United States has today.

Among the failings: the “false promise” of family reunification for all but the closest relatives of U.S. citizens; five- to nine-year wait times for international students with advanced degrees to gain a green card; and the rise of illegal immigration, with the resulting flattening of wages for immigrant and native-born workers alike in low-wage sectors.

“Because immigration amounts to social engineering, how well we do it has profound consequences for huge swaths of our society, from education to health care to economic growth to foreign relations,” Papademetriou writes in the introduction.

The article, which calls the current immigration reform frameworks advanced by a bipartisan group of senators and the White House “nothing short of audacious,” urges consideration of key fundamentals beyond those being publicly discussed, including:

  • Creating risk-management models to accompany the full implementation of an entry-exit system to detect visa overstays. Such models would, over time, supplement the visa judgments of U.S. consular officials and lead to better decisions about who should be admitted to the United States in an expedited way and which applications merit closer scrutiny.
  • Providing the integration services that assure the economic and social integration of newcomers and their children, perhaps funding these services in part through the fines that unauthorized immigrants eligible for legalization would have to pay or tapping the Earnings Suspense File in which Social Security withholdings that cannot be credited to valid Social Security numbers are kept. These could be used to create a fund that states would access to assist those awaiting legalization to meet the English proficiency and civics requirements contemplated under the legislative proposals.
  • Inclusion of flexible selection formulas to ensure that the various visa categories adjust to meet the nation’s strategic priorities.
  • Allowing the administration to propose changes to the immigration system regularly to address small problems before they become large ones. The changes would take effect unless Congress rejected such proposals.

“It is important to acknowledge that we won’t get everything right … and that no perfect answer exists to some of the immigration problems we face,” Papademetriou concludes. “So why not seize the opportunity that the political winds seem to be giving us, experiment with some of the solutions technology offers, consider ideas that other countries have tried with much success in order to address one of the biggest social, moral, and economic challenges of our time?”

He ends: “When successful, immigration systems choose who should be admitted rather than ratifying the decisions of immigrants, their families, and their employers. The latter has been the U.S.’s main experience with immigration for nearly 50 years. It is time for legality, orderliness, and values to be again at the heart of our immigration policy.”

Papademetriou, who is a former director for immigration policy and research at the U.S. Department of Labor and former chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Migration, co-founded MPI in 2001.

Read the article at: http://prospect.org/article/fundamentals-immigration-reform.

###

The Migration Policy Institute is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, D.C. dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels. For more on MPI, please visit www.migrationpolicy.org

Editorial Nook: International Women’s Day

Women’s Empowerment

“Human rights are women’s rights – and women’s rights are human rights. Let us not forget that among those rights are the right to speak freely – and the right to be heard”.  Hillary Rodham Clinton, an advocate for gender equality, emphasized this point during her historic 1995 speech at the Beijing’s women’s conference. Since then, we have made major strides in seeking justice and equality for women around the world.

The international community must continue to uphold this commitment to ensure that the rights and freedoms of women and girls remain protected and that violence against  women eliminated.

Today, March 8th 2013, marked International Women’s Day. There is much to celebrate in the global mission to promote gender equality and the advancement of women. The 2013 agenda for UN Women, an agency of the United Nations, has put emphasis on 1) elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls; and 2) the equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV/AIDS. Most recently, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on February 28, 2013. This symbolizes a crucial breakthrough in the quest for justice and ending violence against women.

Why is this a victory for women’s rights? Here are 5 reasons:

  1. New provisions will help Native American and Alaska Native women access justice.
  2. New provisions help immigrant women in the U.S.
  3. Nondiscrimination provisions help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) survivors of violence.
  4. Inclusion of the Trafficking Victims and Protection Act (TVPA).
  5. Reauthorization of VAWA will ensure that millions of survivors be able to access critical social programs and legal services to help end violence.

Throughout recent history, progress has been made in protecting the rights of women and girls. In 1979, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) by the UN General Assembly generated the international pledge to end all forms of discrimination. Following CEDAW, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (PFA) of 1995 sought to accelerate the implementation of strategies for the advancement of women including enhancing participation in public and private decision-making. In 2000, the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security acknowledged the importance of increasing women’s role in decision-making in regard to conflict prevention and resolutions. The Millennium Development Goals, created in 2002, outlines ambitious action plans to eliminate gender disparity in all educational levels by 2015.

These documents listed above have guided international movements in transforming the status and rights of women. VAWA is a great victory for women’s rights in the U.S. To quote U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice in her address to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women, “All women and girls have a fundamental right to live free from violence and fear”. Yet, 1 in 3 women are still victims to physical and/or psychological abuse, or are coerced into sex. Not only is creating laws vital to ending violence against women, but increasing accountability and enforcing these laws is essential. Empowering women and girls also includes acknowledging their reproductive rights and access to reproductive health services.

International Women’s Day is a catalyst to encourage dialogue surrounding women’s rights around the world; however, the discussion must continue throughout the year. Use today to reflect and celebrate past and future accomplishments that empower women around the world. It is our responsibility as a global community to stay committed to ending violence against women and protecting their freedoms. This requires comprehensive support services for victims, improved measures to prevent assault, justice for offenders and a common understanding and respect for the fundamental rights of women and girls by all community members.

We are moving in the right direction, but must keep the momentum going. It has become seemingly apparent that when women succeed, nations become safer, successful and more ethical. Let the voices of women and girls be heard. Remember, human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.

Written by: Coralie Noisette, UAO Intern
M.S. Candidate, International Public Service- DePaul University 

IYJL presents: National Coming Out of the Shadows Month

March 8, 2013SarahBlog

The Immigrant Youth Justice League will be hosting a rally on Sunday, March 10, 2013 the Federal Plaza in Chicago.

National Coming Out of the Shadows started in Chicago, Illinois on March 10th, 2010 when undocumented youth declared to be “undocumented and unafraid” at Federal Plaza, facing the immigration and federal office building. Around the country, other undocumented youth did the same, some times escalating to civil disobedience in support of immigrant rights.

This year, IYJL continues this work, this time focusing on those being criminalized by the federal government and immigration enforcement: people in deportation proceedings, people in detention, those who do not qualify for deferred action, and those with past interactions with the law.

SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

11:00AM Marchers gather at Union Park
12:00PM March step-off, 45 min expected walking time
12:30PM Pre-Rally music and performances begin at Federal Plaza
12:50PM Welcoming of the marchers
1:00PM National Coming Out of the Shadows rally begins at Federal Plaza, 30 min duration

For more information about Immigrant Youth Justice League, or National Coming Out of the Shadows, visit their website by clicking here!

What Can Medicaid do for YOU?

March 6, 2013SarahBlog

Do you qualify for Medicaid? New rules starting in 2014

Image from heartland.org

The Illinois Senate approved Medicaid Expansion last week. As part of the Affordable Care Act, States have the option to expand Medicaid coverage for individuals that are currently ineligible. Under current Medicaid requirements, adults who do not meet a specific categorical requirement (such as being older than age 65, have certain disabilities or is a parent of a child under 18) have never been eligible for any public health care coverage under Medicaid, even if they are very low income.  For Illinois, this means approximately 600,000 people would be eligible starting in 2014 because they are below 138% of the Federal Poverty Limit. You or someone you know might qualify. Below are key components and expected benefits of Medicaid Expansion in Illinois.

 

Key components of Senate Bill 26:

  • All adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the Federal Poverty Limit ($15,415 for an individual) will be able to enroll in Medicaid starting January 1, 2014. Currently, adults are eligible for Medicaid only if they have disabilities or care for dependent children.
  • The federal government will reimburse Illinois for 100 percent of the costs of covering these newly eligible enrollees through 2017.
  • The reimbursement rate will decrease gradually after 2017 but stay at 90 percent after 2020.
  • If the federal government fails to reimburse the state at 90 percent or above, the newly eligible clients will become ineligible; Illinois will not be stuck with the bill.

 

Expected benefits include:

  • Access to routine, coordinated care for 342,000 low-income adults
  • Fewer unnecessary and uncompensated emergency room visits
  • An influx of $1.1 billion in federal dollars in the first year and more than $12 billion in federal funds in the first eight years of the expansion
  • Job creation in the health care sector
  • $105 million in annual savings to the state as federal funds replace state expenditures on mental health, HIV/AIDS drugs and other areas of spending
  • A reduction in the burden on hospitals and local government currently caring for the uninsured
  • Better preventive care and mental health care for a vulnerable segment of the population[1]


[1] State Senator Van Pelt on the Illinois Senate vote to expand Medicaid, last modified February 23, 2013, http://senatorvanpelt.com/index.php/news/81-state-senator-van-pelt-on-the-illinois-senate-vote-to-expand-medicaid.

UAO and Allies Rally in Springfield!

March 5, 2013AdminBlog, Photo Reel

On February 27, 2013, UAO Executive Staff and allies lobbied Illinois legislators in Springfield to ensure that immigrant services such as Citizenship workshops and healthcare awareness are still funded in the next fiscal year.

Click here to see more photos!

If you want to get involved with our efforts, contact your representatives today to insure immigrant services are still funded in Illinois by visiting Who Is My Representative, today!

 

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