Posted by: sbilingual | November 29, 2010

New center in Alexandria to provide ‘great service’ for immigrants

Immigrants in Central Louisiana now have a place to go to in Alexandria to get help on immigration issues.

Three religious organizations, a faith-based agency and members of the community gathered Tuesday to officially open the Central Louisiana Interfaith Immigration Center.

“It’s a reality. I am overjoyed about the prospect and excited that we can make this work and that is going to be a great service for all of these immigrants, who won’t have to go so far” to process documents or get information, said José Colls, executive director of the center.

The center, located at the Newman Methodist Church Outreach Center, 4210 South MacArthur Drive in Alexandria, will offer affordable services and legal counsel on immigration issues.

Some of the services include family petitions, adjustment of status, naturalization, employment visas, translation of documents from English to Spanish and vice versa, and English classes.

At Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, representatives from the organizations spearheading the center — including the Catholic Diocese of Alexandria, the Episcopal Diocese of Western Louisiana, Alexandria District of the United Methodist Church, and the Northern and Central Louisiana Interfaith Cluster — applauded the effort.

Also at the ceremony, Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy presented the group with a proclamation declaring Nov. 23, 2010, as Central Louisiana Interfaith Immigration Center Day.

This center is for the growing number of immigrants coming to Central Louisiana and who are welcomed to the community, officials said.

“I pray that the center “» is only the beginning of our working together to put the resources of who we are and how we care” for this community, said the Rev. Ellen Alston, superintendent of the Alexandria District of the United Methodist Church.

The Rev. Grady Blackwell of First St. Mark Baptist Church, a member of Central Louisiana Interfaith, said it’s fitting to welcome strangers to the community, although for him immigrants are not strangers — they have helped make the country a valuable “melting pot.”

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