Summer and Fall
Recognizing that public opinion over the summer and fall of 2016 will continue to focus with unusual intensity on matters related to immigrants and refugees, AKIN will engage in a concentrated campaign of public education. We see the election season as both a challenge and an opportunity for those who want to assure a just and welcoming climate for new neighbors in the greater Knoxville area. Accordingly we will seek many avenues for joining and helping to reframe the public conversation. Channels will likely include letters to the editor and op-eds in local media, presentations and informal dialogue with local civic and religious organizations, as well as vigils, demonstrations, and other activities aimed at getting out a message that offers an alternative to the hateful and wrong-headed rhetoric we are hearing far too often at this time.
Winter and Spring
There will be much to do in the spring, but upcoming elections at both the state and national level make it difficult to predict which paths will be most urgent. We expect there will be a need for AKIN to join others in building a strong presence at the Tennessee General Assembly, attempting to win good measures (perhaps a renewed bill for Tuition Equality) and to prevent bad ones (such as bills aiming to make the state more hostile to immigrants and refugees).
At a national level there is also likely to be a need for local constituents to speak out on immigrant and refugee policy matters. In Congress there may be a renewed push for comprehensive immigration reform or new legislation related to refugees. A ninth justice must be appointed to the Supreme Court. And federal immigration authorities will continue to be faced with discretionary decisions in the context of a broken immigration system.
So our program for the spring is to remain both flexible and active. Stay tuned!