Updated: Dec 11, 2019
We are so excited to share an important milestone for us. As you may know, SEIRN has been a project of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) since it was established in late 2006. We are delighted to announce that as of July 1, SEIRN is an independent organization! To celebrate, we are launching our brand new website today. And we are also asking you to support SEIRN as we embark on this new journey.
SEIRN was formed at the first ever Southeast immigrant rights conference held in Atlanta in December 2006 following a spate of state and local anti-immigrant measures that swept across the region. SEIRN’s early conferences and convenings were a vital space for the South’s fledgling immigrant rights movement to network, share best practices and develop strategies to push back local, state and national anti-immigrant policies. But the voices and leadership of directly affected immigrant communities were largely absent from SEIRN and from the movement.
When SEIRN’s Steering Committee met at the historic Highlander Center in East Tennessee in late 2009, it decided that SEIRN’s mission should be to build grassroots immigrant power in the South, based on the conviction that the people most directly impacted by immigration policies should and must lead the movement. This meant not only supporting grassroots immigrant organizing and leadership development in the South, but transforming SEIRN itself. Our annual conference became one of the few regional spaces for grassroots leaders to gather; our Steering Committee was restructured to consist primarily of directly affected immigrant leaders; we developed principles and began implementing practices placing directly affected grassroots immigrant leaders front and center in our work and our organization; and we integrated more grassroots immigrant groups as members.
SEIRN Steering Committee meeting in Highlander Center in 2014 (photo: Reca Fernandez)
In late 2014, our immigrant-led Steering Committee decided, as part of a 3 year strategic plan, that SEIRN should become an independent organization. It was important, they believed, because SEIRN’s mission of building grassroots immigrant power across the South was uniquely distinct and that it should be its own organization rather than a project tied to any specific member. Step by step over the last three years we have been building the foundations of this newly independent SEIRN. Last year, we elected our first Board of Directors, with a majority of grassroots immigrant leaders as its members, and we obtained our non-profit status. Over the last few months we have been arduously working to set up the necessary infrastructure to run independently. And we launched our new phase as a fully independent organization on July 1.
We want to take this opportunity to express our enormous appreciation for TIRRC for seeding, pollinating SEIRN, nurturing us, guiding and mentoring us, believing in us and for letting us fly our own journey. Without you, TIRRC, we would not be here today.
After countless hours/days/months/years of conversations, planning, paperwork and more, we are proud to celebrate this important milestone with you today. We are also asking you to support SEIRN and help us continue our mission of lifting up the voice and leadership of the Southeast’s immigrant communities, supporting our members and creating spaces for political education and collective action to build just and inclusive communities. Please make your donation today, or become a sustainer by making a monthly donation of $10 or more.