BOSTON CITY HALL
1 CITY HALL SQUARE, ROOM 806BOSTON, MA 02201
Immigrants Lead Boston
Twenty people make up the October 2021 to February 2022 class of Immigrants Lead Boston. They represent 18 countries, 9 Boston neighborhoods, and speak 14 languages. The program helps immigrant leaders become more civically active on issues that are important to them.
This year's class drafted testimonies on housing justice, access to mental health services, and lack of access to COVID-19 resources. One participant submitted their testimony in favor of bill H.4461, an Act Relative to Work and Family Mobility, which would allow immigrants in Massachusetts to get driver's licenses regardless of status.
“I learned a lot of things even though I have lived here for over 20 years,” said Amina Aden, a participant from Roxbury. “I didn’t know about all the rights I have as an immigrant, and I now know how to help myself and communities I care about. I also have met so many people from different cultures and we got to share our perspectives with one another.”
Participants also attended a community meeting of their choice and were given the opportunity to give feedback and share their experiences with City officials about how to ensure community meetings are more welcoming and accessible.
“I knew this would be a great program where I would learn a lot,” said Jun Xie, a participant from South End. “What was surprising was how much it impacted my mindset. I am feeling so empowered and inspired recently, and I feel like I now have an obligation to do something for my community instead of just volunteering occasionally.”
The Immigrants Lead Boston Graduation was on February 17, 2022. Participants shared their experiences and Mayor Michelle Wu gave the keynote address and answered questions. Watch here.
Meet the ParticipantsMeet the Participants
"While the percentage of Boston's immigrants is growing up to 28 percent, many are lacking access to comprehensive healthcare - from preventive dental care to cancer treatment. The rate of food insecurity has increased to 8 percent among Boston neighborhoods during the outbreak of the pandemic. According to the Mayor's Office of Food Justice agenda for 2019-2021, nearly 22 percent of Boston adult residents are obese, with the highest proportion of them being immigrants. These unfortunate consequences and many more led me to participate in Immigrants Lead Boston to help find ways to serve vulnerable immigrants facing limited access to state resources."
"I hope to see a better improvement in health and well-being in Boston neighborhoods, with necessary support from health behavior professionals to fight the negative impact of mental health and substance use in our communities. I would also like to see an increase of public awareness towards the importance of universal access to healthcare, affordable food products and housing."
"I participated in Immigrants Lead Boston to know more about the City of Boston, what goes on, and how to stay updated with it."
"I want to see a decrease in rent for housing, and I want immigrant communities to be part of the Boston culture."
"I participated in Immigrants Lead Boston because it offered the resources necessary to help African communities. This program also provided me with information that I need to continue the work I do with the Guinean community."
"I want to see more integrated community in Boston. I also want to see my community involved with City of Boston activities and aware of the resources around them."
"I participated in Immigrants Lead Boston to enhance my involvement in my community and learn more about helping immigrants in Boston."
"I want to see more affordable housing and affordable healthy food."
"I participated in Immigrants Lead Boston because I want to continue working in the community and represent this program in the best possible way. As an immigrant, I have lived my own experiences that I would like to share. I want to be a voice that guides, informs, and helps the members of my community and give them accurate information about the resources that exist in Boston."
"I want to form a mutual support group where as immigrants, we can share our experiences, ideas, doubts, and needs. Together we can find information and support that allows us to be a productive part of our community—whether it is as individuals, members of our own family, or members of a larger family, which is our community."
"I participated in Immigrants Lead Boston so I could learn about the City's different resources and pass these resources to my community. I want my community's voice to be heard."
"I would like to see the City of Boston government pay attention to the needs of our community."
"Immigrants Lead Boston is a great opportunity to gain civic information and be more aware of my civil rights. Also, the program is a resume booster. It is a great way to expand my knowledge and information to be able to help other members of my community."
"As an Arab and a Muslim American, I want to see more acceptance and understanding of our culture. Introducing Arabic classes in Boston schools in the future is one way. Additionally, I want to see more integration of the Arab and Muslim community in Greater Boston society."
"I participated in Immigrants Lead Boston because as an immigrant and a woman of color, I think it is important for us to put ourselves on the map, especially in city government. I want to show young women of color that they can participate too, hold important roles, and make changes in their community. By learning how city government runs and meeting with city officials, I will gain access to valuable resources and information to share with those around me. It is important for everyone to know their rights and who to contact to obtain help."
"I want to see changes made within the criminal justice system to reduce racial and ethnic disparities. I want better mental health services or homes for the homeless and people with addiction and mental disorders."
"I want to be able to help my undocumented community and be their voice so that they know they have rights as well. I hope that one day they too have a pathway to citizenship in this country that they made their lives in."
"I decided to participate in Immigrants Lead Boston because this is a great opportunity to connect our communities with the government. Additionally, learning how the government works in different programs such as transportation, education, racism, health and housing access will allow me to do a better service. It will boost my knowledge in a way to teach other members of my community to improve their lives or to get access to different programs. Our communities are very important. Without our communities we can’t create a better society."
"Boston is a great city. However, I would love to see some changes related to housing and education because these are matters that affect our community, so creating more educational opportunities and focusing on housing control will improve the quality of life in our community."
"Through Immigrants Lead Boston, I loved learning more about the different services and resources the City of Boston offers to immigrant communities."
"I would like to see more inclusion of immigrants from different countries of Latin America in local government. Many immigrant communities have suffered and been deeply affected by the pandemic, and we need more resources in their languages and people who can better understand their cultures."
"I joined ILB because I want to be a voice for residents of Dorchester, immigrants from all over the world (especially Mexico and other Latin American countries), and for LGBT+ members of our communities. I want to learn more about the City and its resources and share that information as well as communicate the needs of the community back to the City."
"Boston is a great city in so many ways. We need representation for everyone that lives here. We also need improvements in infrastructure, education, social services, health, housing, and the list goes on. I want to advocate for these changes and be a part of the solution."
"What does the future look like for immigrants? How will the support be elevated? This is why I joined Immigrants Lead Boston, to answer these questions and use the knowledge I learned in this program to be a resource to liberate present and future immigrant communities. I hope to pay homage to those before me."
"I want to see change happen in Boston for my community. I want to see availability of resources and inclusion of the present and future of the brightest immigrant minds having a seat at the table. I want to see social capitalism become equitable."
"I participated in Immigrants Lead Boston because as a Latino who lives in the city of Boston, it is important for me to become an entity of change that brings the best of myself to the community, and what better opportunity than to belong to a program of personal and intellectual enrichment like this one."
"I want to see an opportunity to give driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. I want there to be more access to equitable education, better food, and more parks with games for children."
"As a member of Immigrants Lead Boston, I believe that this initiative embraces the community. City representatives encourage immigrants to improve their knowledge of the City's operations. It also provides civic engagement to make our pluricultural neighborhoods beautiful and unique."
"I believe that the City of Boston welcomes its residents with equality regardless of their country of origin. I believe that inclusion programs are impulses for dignity and fraternity, and I want everyone in my community to get the right information with easy access to the resources that the City offers."
"I participated in Immigrants Lead Boston to learn more about the City of Boston and its resources to better serve my community."
"I want there to be access to a Driver's License for everyone, including the immigrant community."