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Economic Progress Institute’s 11th Annual Conference focuses on supporting Rhode Island immigrants



The Economic Progress Institute (EPI) hosted its 11th annual policy and budget conference Supporting Immigrants in Rhode Island with over 200 community leaders, lawmakers, and policy staff in attendance. Each year, EPI hosts a half-day conference to educate Rhode Islanders about critical policy challenges and opportunities facing Rhode Island. This year’s conference focused on immigrants in Rhode Island: specifically focusing on the role they play in our communities, and how we can better support our immigrant neighbors in the Ocean State.

Below is all the video from the conference.


“Rhode Island immigrants make up 13 percent of our population and provide a net economic benefit of $302 million dollars to our state,” said Rachel Flum, EPI executive director. “We are proud to bring folks together to highlight what is being done to support our immigrant neighbors, despite the anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies coming from Washington.”

EPI Board Chair Carolyn Mark with a few words:

EPI Senior Policy Analyst Alan Krinsky presents some numbers on immigrant demographics and the economic contributions immigrants make here in Rhode island.

Keynote, Connie Choi:

The keynote speaker this year was Connie Choi, Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign Field Manager and Strategist for the National Immigration Law Center (NILC). Established in 1979, NILC is one of the leading organizations in the United States exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low- income immigrants. Connie leads and oversees field, education, and mobilization strategy for the Protecting Immigrant Families, Advancing Our Future national campaign, co-chaired by NILC and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), a leading national anti-poverty organization.

“We began the Protecting Immigrant Families Campaign in the early days of the Trump Administration to focus on the intersection of attacks on immigrant families and attacks on access to basic needs programs that promote health, nutrition and economic stability,” said Choi. “We have seen a huge surge of interest in this issue from partners around the country who are ready to fight with us to protect our immigrant neighbors who contribute to thriving communities all over the United States.”

Connie Choi Q & A.

State Agency Panel:

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EPI Policy Director Linda Katz served as the facilitator for a panel featuring Courtney Hawkins, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Human Services and Ana Novais, deputy director of the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH).

Courtney Hawkins:

Ana Novais:

Courtney Hawkins and Ana Novais Q & A:

Community Panel:

EPI Policy Director Linda Katz served as the facilitator for a panel featuring Catarina Lorenzo, Organizer with the Alliance to Mobilize Our Resistance (AMOR); Jennifer Wood, executive director of the Center for Justice; Deborah Gonzalez, director of the Immigration Law Clinic at Roger Williams University School of Law; and Sarah Friedman, co-founder and co-director of The Learning Community.


Catarina Lorenzo:

Jennifer Wood:

Deborah Gonzalez:

Sarah Friedman:


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About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.

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