Somerville, MA


Prior to fall 2016, in addition to providing a wide range of services and civic engagement opportunities to the city's immigrant residents, the City of Somerville's SomerViva: Office of Immigrant Services coordinated occasional citizenship clinics with area partners, provided individual citizenship support via referrals to pro bono and private legal resources and referrals to citizenship classes, as well as directly providing interpretation and translation services for immigration-related needs and establishing Brazilian Consular Service hours at City Hall. Efforts intensified in fall 2016. Amid the changing immigration landscape, in November 2016, the City/SomerViva initiated the founding of a broad-based coalition, the Sanctuary City Steering Committee (SCSC), in part to coordinate City, school, nonprofit, and community efforts to address a range of immigration-related needs facing residents. In partnership with SCSC members as well as the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, Centro Presente, The Welcome Project, area houses of worship, and others, the City has since co-hosted monthly immigration legal clinics (which, among other needs, identify paths to citizenship), co-hosted two naturalization application drives, organized and paid for BIA Basic Immigration Law Training for community volunteers, held immigration workshops onsite at area houses of worship, and launched an onsite ESL and citizenship initiative for seniors at a local senior housing facility. The above SCSC and SomerViva programs and efforts to serve a broad range of immigration-related needs including naturalization served 1,363 individuals during fiscal year 2018. Meanwhile, SomerViva's team of three community liaisons, all themselves immigrants, served more than 4,500 individuals with a range of civic and immigration needs. There is of course much more to do particularly around naturalization, and Somerville is looking forward to the inspiration and support provided by C4C and fellow member cities.