By Donna Parker

Immigration Affairs of Dane County held its first Immigration Affairs Luncheon
to celebrate it’s first two years of growth, service, advocacy and
collaborations, on December 5th, at the Goodman Community Center.

Since the 2017 beginning, the Immigration Affairs office has provided
outreach, advocacy and case management services to immigrants in Dane
County.  Utilizing community partnerships that involve local government,
elected officials, law enforcement and community collaborations, a number of
initiatives have been established, including: Immigration Enforcement
Response Team, facilitated “Know Your Rights” trainings and the creation of a
network support system among service providers.  The services of the
Immigration Affairs of Dane County, were summarized best when one of those
recognized, District 5 Alder, Shiva Bidar said, “It takes a village.”
“The purpose of the Dane County Immigrant Assistance is to help the immigrant
community with immigration legal services, collaborate with community
partners, lead development of a long-term strategy for immigrant support.”
cited Fabiola Hamdan, the Immigration Affairs Specialist and the facilitator for
the day’s recognitions and celebration.

Hamdan, went on to shared, “Thanks to each one of you for coming. Your
support and encouragement has made a huge contribution to the work I do,
which provides immigration assistance to our immigrant, refugee, and asylum
seekers in our community. This is a token of appreciation for all the support
you have giving me this past two years. It is my pleasure to have this event in
you honor!”

One of the event highlights was the introduction of Yesenia Villalpando, the person filling the newly created Immigration Affairs part-time position of LTE bilingual
social worker.

Special recognitions and framed certificates were presented to Dane County Executive Joe Parisi; Dr. Martha Stacker, division administrator of Children, Youth and
Families for Dane County Department of Human Services; Ron Chance, community program coordinator for Dane County Department of Human Services; and Dane
County Supervisors Tanya Buckingham (District 24)  and Jamie Kuhn (District 16).

Dane County Executive, Joseph Parisi best articulated the critical need for the Immigration Affairs services when he said, “We think that it is an effective model and
that it helps people on the ground and it makes a difference in people’s lives.”