¡HICA! facilitates civic integration by engaging Hispanic families and individuals in becoming contributing members of their new communities. ¡HICA!'s Immigration and Access to Justice Program facilitates civic engagement by supporting constituents along the path to U.S. citizenship. ¡HICA!'s Community Engagement and Education Program works to empower individuals and families as they become active participants in the civic life of their communities.
Stories of Civic Integration
Maricela Garcia started attending one of ¡HICA!'s language exchange programs in 2011 to improve her English. She soon joined a women's support group, called Comadres (godmothers or trusted women). As a single mother, Maricela found the friendships and discussion topics empowering. According to Maricela, before she joined Comadres, she said "I can't," but now she says "I can."
When Alabama's immigration law, HB56, went into effect in 2011, Maricela participated in a Know Your Rights training at ¡HICA!. She began to spread the word in her community about immigrant rights and teach other Hispanic families about how to protect themselves from discrimination. "With HB 56, I was afraid but I learned my rights through the programs that ¡HICA! has, and I know I have rights."
Recognizing Maricela's 'can-do' attitude and leadership potential, ¡HICA! encouraged her to participate in a grassroots leadership development training. There she learned in-depth about different issues affecting those living in poverty in Alabama, and met others struggling like she was. Soon she became involved in many community groups and activities about immigrant rights. This spring, ¡HICA! nominated Maricela to be on the Family Advisory Committee of Equal Voice for America's Families, a national campaign for families living in poverty. ¡HICA! is ecstatic that she will be representing Alabamians and immigrants at the national level. Maricela says, "I try every day to be a better leader although it isn't easy."