The United States is seeing an increase in the number of Ukrainian and Afghan refugees as the immigration pattern shifts, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA) Executive Director Angelica Salas told Sputnik.
"Immigration is changing. For many years, there was a lot of migration. It still remains to be the highest number of migrants are from Mexico and then from Central America," Salas said on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas. "But now we have folks from Haiti... many from Cameroon, from the African diaspora here, but also increasing Ukrainian refugees and Afghan refugees."
Salas stressed that as an organization they have to ensure that they are able to support the changing demography of refugees and new arrivals.
"Even as we continue to support immigrants who have been here in the United States for many years, who still need our support because they have not been able to, they're still vulnerable," she said. "And so it's a way by which to expand our services, even while not making sure that we're very supportive of the migrants who've been here for a very long time."
Salas said the purpose of California-based CHIRLA is to work directly with immigrant communities - immigrant workers, immigrant youth and their families - in order for them to be able to know their rights and what resources are available to them so that they can integrate into society.
"Part of the organization is to provide the services that immigrants need, but also to engage them to participate in their communities in order to improve their communities so that policies and laws are changed in order for them to be able to be welcomed and to be treated humanely," she said.
Salas stressed, however, that right now CHIRLA is focusing a lot on asylum.
"We believe that the United States can do much more to actually allow individuals who are coming seeking asylum in the southern border to be allowed to come into the United States," she stated, adding that there are some 11 million undocumented workers and their families in the United States.
"We've been demanding that there'll be legal status given to these 11 million individuals who are contributing to the country. Majority of them have lived in this country for more than ten years, a vast majority for more than 20 years. And so we believe that this is something fundamental towards advancing immigrant rights in the United States," Salas said.
Salas said they receive over 5,000 calls each month from migrants who are seeking their support and service.
"We help them with legal services, if that is what they need. If not, we will help them find the resource that they need," she added.
The Ninth Summit of the Americas is taking place in Los Angeles from Monday to Friday.