Driven by Students
ILP comprises the KI program manager, project coordinator, and a small team of student coordinators. Members participate in local budget forums, host events for on-campus workers, join tenant rallies, and testify in front of the DC Council on immigration-related issues.
Students are essential to the conversation and the execution of ILP projects.
“Juan and I think of ourselves as facilitators,” said KI project coordinator Alex Taliadoros. “Students are coming from different places with a lot of lived experience on immigration and work, so they have a strong sense of how these issues impact people, how to talk about it, and which issues matter most.”
“The way that ILP is set up is that the students drive the programming with help from the KI to realize said projects,” said Mizraim Belman (SFS’20). “I remember coming onto the team my first year and right away being able to bring in my ideas and experiences as an undocumented immigrant to see how we can best support the immigrant community on campus and in DC”
A Local Approach to a Global Conflict
Immigration is a global issue, but ILP approaches immigration on a local level.
“It brings you closer to the community. It’s less abstract,” explained Taliadoros. “You’re meeting the people who are being evicted, you’re meeting the people who are worried about ICE coming, you’re meeting the workers fighting for a living wage. The personal connection makes the work so much more meaningful and durable—that’s why the focus is so local.”
In April, ILP members testified at the DC Council budget hearing chaired by Ward 4 Councilmember Brandon Todd to ask for the IJLS program to fund legal services for DC residents who have been detained by ICE. After their testimony, they teamed up with DC immigration advocates to encourage other councilmembers to support this expansion of the fund’s reach.
“There hasn’t been comprehensive immigration reform on the federal level in Congress in 43 years,” said Taliadoros. “But here, a student can sign up a couple days in advance and be face-to-face with a Councilmember who will decide how millions of dollars will be spent for a major policy that will change people’s lives.”