New Americans Initiative

New Americans Initiative

New Americans Initiative educates, engages, and empowers our immigrant and refugee communities in Kentucky. Through legal bootcamps, community seminars, and application workshops, we have worked to bring our immigrant, legal, and nonprofit communities together to combat the unprecedented anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric we have faced over the past several years

New Americans Initiative

New Americans Initiative educates, engages, and empowers our immigrant and refugee communities in Kentucky. Through legal bootcamps, community seminars, and application workshops, we have worked to bring our immigrant, legal, and nonprofit communities together to combat the unprecedented anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric we have faced over the past several years and continue to face. Founded by an immigrant, immigration attorney, and the first foreign-born legislator elected to serve in the Kentucky House of Representatives, New Americans Initiative is uniquely positioned to bring together immigrant and refugee communities through credible and consistent outreach for civic engagement so that every voice is counted and heard. The One Vote, One Voice Project is a multi-step project that will build on our existing relationships and resources to: 1) gather accurate data on how many immigrants currently call Kentucky home; 2) determine how many are eligible for citizenship; 3) identify and overcome barriers to the naturalization process; and, 4) create sustained voter registration and engagement pipelines and strategies. By getting an accurate count of immigrants who are eligible for naturalization, connecting them with resources to become citizens, and ensuring that they are registered to vote, we have the power to transform the electoral landscape in our Commonwealth.

About the Organization:

New Americans Initiative educates, engages, and empowers our immigrant and refugee communities in Kentucky. Through legal bootcamps, community seminars, and application workshops, we have worked to bring our immigrant, legal, and nonprofit communities together to combat the unprecedented anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric we have faced over the past several years and continue to face. Founded by an immigrant, immigration attorney, and the first foreign-born legislator elected to serve in the Kentucky House of Representatives, New Americans Initiative is uniquely positioned to bring together immigrant and refugee communities through credible and consistent outreach for civic engagement so that every voice is counted and heard. The One Vote, One Voice Project is a multi-step project that will build on our existing relationships and resources to: 1) gather accurate data on how many immigrants currently call Kentucky home; 2) determine how many are eligible for citizenship; 3) identify and overcome barriers to the naturalization process; and, 4) create sustained voter registration and engagement pipelines and strategies. By getting an accurate count of immigrants who are eligible for naturalization, connecting them with resources to become citizens, and ensuring that they are registered to vote, we have the power to transform the electoral landscape in our Commonwealth.

organizational budget

$50,000 - $100,000

existence for

6-10 YEARS

The Issue:

There are an estimated 180,000 immigrants living in Kentucky. That's more than the population of every county in Kentucky, except Jefferson and Fayette (our two primary population centers). 40% of them are registered voters. But there are many immigrants eligible for naturalization who do not become citizens, mainly due to financial and language barriers. This estimate is likely inaccurate. A major problem is that we simply do not know how many eligible immigrants live in KY, or how best to reach them. Current estimates are based on prior projections and anticipated growth trends, but there has not been an accurate count of our immigrant and refugee population for over a decade. We know that there was significant undercounting of immigrants in the 2020 census, and this has impacted what we know about our foreign-born communities in Kentucky, who they are, where they live, and what resources they may need. This process will also connect immigrant and refugee communities with local resources and services that they may not be aware of in their region. While the ultimate goal is increased voter registration and participation in our elections, through this process New Americans Initiative will also build a foundational network of immigrant and refugee communities across all 120 counties in Kentucky. This will involve regional partners, city and county governments, and community leaders to ensure greater engagement and inclusion moving forward. True representation in our democracy means active engagement and participation. Without it, we are subject to policies that do not reflect the needs nor account for the impacts on underrepresented groups like immigrants and refugees. Language barriers, lack of awareness and understanding of our electoral process, and disengagement with the larger community lead to continued disregard for these families. This project seeks to change that pattern in Kentucky, and create a new model for engagement.

The Solution:

The One Vote, One Voice project will gather information from existing data sources, including the Census Bureau's decennial data and monthly ACS survey data, existing estimates from national organizations and the federal government, and state-level data from cities and counties. This will help establish a baseline from which to start the outreach process and identify gaps in the data that need to be addressed. Once a data set has been established, a state-wide outreach and awareness campaign will be launched using social media, radio, phone, email, and direct mail. The purpose is to establish awareness and trust within the communities we are trying to reach, and provide ways for self-selected responses to surveys that will be included in these outreach efforts. A texting campaign may be added once enough data is gathered. Finally, a door-to-door deep canvassing effort will be organized with local partners to ensure that the data is confirmed, and to facilitate citizenship classes, naturalization workshops, town halls, and other direct communications with immigrant and refugee communities so that we can identify and overcome barriers to naturalization, and ensure (as close to) 100% voter registration and engagement on an ongoing basis. Nothing like this has been undertaken in Kentucky, and it will be a monumental effort. But the rewards will be exponential in scope, and will be measured in the number of contacts made, the number of naturalization applications submitted through the project, the number of voter registrations for those immediately eligible, and registrations and voter turnout numbers in each election cycle. By creating a data-driven, community-focused infrastructure, we will be able to monitor and track concrete outcomes year after year, adjusting our efforts as needed to maximize outreach to the growing number of immigrants and refugees in our region.

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