Established in 2004, LALDEF has been committed to serving the low-income Latino immigrant communities of the Mercer County region. LALDEF promotes the rights of all immigrants, with a focus on the Latin American community in the Mercer County area, facilitates access to health care, education and legal representation; advocates for the integration of immigrants; and fosters inter-cultural communication to strengthen our communities. LALDEF has established itself as the “go-to” organization for reaching out to the Latino community in Mercer County.
LALDEF acts as a conduit between the existing resources of social services and the local immigrant community, helping dismantle the barriers that stand in the way to a more fair and just society, and supporting the incorporation of these immigrants to the social fabric.
Who Do We Serve
Since 2000 the immigrant population of Mercer County has grown by 50%, ten times as fast as the general population. Today, one out of five county residents is an immigrant. The largest contingent of these immigrants are Latin Americans, who reside largely in and around Trenton. In fact, one in four Trenton residents is foreign-born. Unfortunately census figures show that immigrant incorporation in the city is poor. One in five persons over five years of age in Trenton speaks English “less than well.” Education attainment levels and household incomes are also far behind regional averages. Only half of the voting age Latinos in Trenton are citizens and are able to vote.
The incorporation of these would-be Americans will greatly benefit our nation in economic and social terms. LALDEF stands ready to do its part in facilitating this process. We are one of a handful of non-profit agencies in the region with the cultural and technical competency to help bring these aspiring, would-be Americans out of the shadows.
LALDEF focuses on the root causes of immigrant marginalization. We seek to empower immigrants to reach self-sufficiency, and thrive, by showing them how to navigate the system and find the resources they need.
Our goals are:
1. To increase immigrant integration through advocacy with federal, state and local government agencies and to facilitate access to legal services and resources to prevent loss of legal immigration status; seek relief on behalf of those without legal status but with deep roots in our communities; and assist legal permanent residents acquire U.S citizenship.
2. To raise the social capital of immigrants and provide civic education about rights and responsibilities to working immigrant families, and in so doing promote good social behavior, facilitate their stabilization and acculturation and thus improve the welfare of the community.
3. Ultimately, we envision our role as serving the community at large by creating cross-cultural understanding between native and foreign-born, accepting and appreciating our differences, while recognizing our common humanity and mutual interest in contributing to a thriving, fair and diverse community.
Without the specific support required for the full incorporation of Latino immigrants, particularly their youth, who hold such promise, the community at large will continue to be shortchanged. This is the gap LALDEF is trying to fill.