Changing Hearts and Minds

After three decades of fighting at the forefront of meaningful legal and policy change, the American Immigration Council will activate its mission in new and innovative ways to respond to deepening divides and harness the power of a new group of thinkers and doers not usually engaged on our issue.

Our newly formed Center for Inclusion and Belonging will activate our motto, “Honoring our Immigration Past, Shaping our Immigration Future,” by working to change hearts and minds towards those considered the “other” and building bridges across differences. We will invest in the genuine attitude and behavior changes our country desperately needs to heal and move towards a more united future.

The Center will launch and build campaigns and interventions that provide all people in America with unifying experiences that reinforce their sense of connection, community, and shared destiny.

Our four pillars of work include: 

  • Trainings
  • Campaigns
  • Research
  • Community of Practice


Letter From The Director:

I am pleased to announce the launch of the Center for Inclusion and Belonging at the American Immigration Council. 

The new Center will house our efforts to change hearts and minds toward those considered the “other” in our country and to build bridges across differences in order to foster a more united America.


Today, many in power are using the issue of immigration to ignite a deep sense of fear and threat among Americans and are activating an “us vs. them” narrative to their political advantage. 


But why are so many Americans receptive to divisive messaging? Research tells us the following dynamics are at play:


  • Rapid Change. Cultural and demographic shifts are changing American communities. This is not only due to high levels of migration from outside of the country, but internal migration due to natural disasters and uneven economic opportunities forcing Americans to move.


  • Social alienation. An epidemic of loneliness has reached its zenith in this country, and it’s only getting worse with the decline of civic and faith-based groups and the ascendance of social media. Some of our early research is revealing a potential link between how socially alienated individuals feel and their attitudes toward other groups. 


  • Political polarization. We live in a moment where even the most mundane issues become hyper-politicized topics. Of course, something like immigration policy becomes an absolute lighting rod in a moment like this. 


If we are honest with ourselves, what’s at stake now is bigger than any single policy issue. Thus, we must join forces with others to manage these larger problems if we are to fix our own.


We’re calling this new project the Center for Inclusion and Belonging to signal that the problems we need to solve transcend any single issue. The debate over immigration enforcement, public charge, and Muslim bans is fundamentally a fight over inclusion and belonging. In fact, what lies at the core of many of our national and policy debates is a deeper question of who we “other” and who we allow to “belong.” 


We are forming the Center for Inclusion and Belonging to house the new strategies that we think will serve as powerful interventions to the division plaguing our country and to bring together a more diverse set of community actors to help.


Our work will be organized under four key pillars: Campaigns, Community of Practice, Trainings, and Research. Read more about each strategy on our website.


I hope the Center for Inclusion and Belonging will be a place where we can have big conversations about creating a nation of inclusion and belonging and how we extinguish division and exclusion. Please join us in our work ahead. 


Wendy Feliz

“We are committed to building a cohesive America where all people are welcomed and included. ”