In January, Highlander hosted and participated in a strategy session for the Southeast Immigrant Rights Network (SEIRN), which brought together representatives from statewide immigrant coalitions, grassroots groups, and regional partners to connect its members with campaigns around immigration reform. In addition to discussing the prospects for national immigration reform, the group focused its strategy on what to expect on the state and local levels and how its members could collaborate and support one another in those battleswhile keeping the voices and experiences of local grassroots groups central to the movement and strategy. SEIRN’s Regional Coordinator Mónica Hernández notes that the network is also working to reframe the issue of immigrant rights, “not just as a Latino issue but one that affects many refugee communities, and to tie it into a framework broader than just immigrant rights.”

This aim of connecting its own struggle to a broader movement for justice was one of the reasons SEIRN picked Highlander for its strategy session. “We felt Highlander was the most appropriate place to have the kind of conversations we needed to have about movement building beyond any particular campaign,” Hernández says. “A lot of our folks feel connected to the legacy of Highlander and the role it’s played in progressive movement building.”  And the spirit of Highlander’s philosophy and methodology energized the session when Highlander’s consultants amd long-time friends, cultural organizers Guy and Candie Carawan joined the group for a meal.  “Candie got up and addressed us,” Hernández says. “She told us how happy she was for us to be there and said, ‘I hope you do a lot of singing.’ That just inspired everybody, and we added that crucial component of singing. It provided more of a glue for people to feel like we were really building something together.”