History in the Making

Today, the White House announced a historic step toward creating the nation’s first federal integration strategy – one that recognizes the importance of local efforts to build welcoming environments where immigrants and long-time residents join together to create stronger communities. Read the report and fact sheet.

The leadership of our partners across the country who are at the forefront of community-based initiatives helped shape and inspire this strategy and are recognized throughout the report as being among the nation’s most promising efforts. The report to the President was presented today by the White House Task Force on New Americans, an inter-agency effort to develop a coordinated federal strategy to better integrate immigrants and refugees and build welcoming communities. The Task Force was created as part of the President’s immigration accountability executive actions.

We applaud the White House for recognizing that immigrant and refugee integration make our country stronger and that the federal government can and should do more to support the burgeoning movement of welcoming communities across the country. These efforts are at the cutting edge of helping our country remain economically competitive and culturally vibrant – the kind of place that people from around the world want to come to start a business, invest in communities, and make a better life for themselves and their families. This national policy is the first of its kind and affirms our nation’s leadership as a beacon of freedom and opportunity for all. Welcoming City and County elected officials from across the country have come out in support of the announcement:

  • “Our neighborhoods are stronger and safer when every individual feels valued and included in their city’s social and economic fabric and every child has access to the American dream. Today’s report released by President Obama’s Task Force on New Americans focuses on actionable steps communities can take to build bridges between long-time residents and newcomers, and I look forward to incorporating the Task Force’s recommendations to support our local inclusion efforts in Atlanta.” – Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed
  • “Our goal, since the creation of Welcome Dayton, is to ensure all of our residents, including new Americans, feel welcomed, have access to needed services, and can take advantage of Dayton’s many opportunities.” – Dayton, Ohio Commissioner Matt Joseph
  • “This report reaffirms what we in Dayton already know: our cities and economy are stronger when we allow people to fully integrate into our communities. We are proud to again be recognized as a model for the national welcoming movement that is vital to the Country’s success.” – Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley
  • “The City of Boston is proud to be a city of immigrants, and I am proud to be a son of immigrants. Through the Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians, our City has extensive experience in promoting the integration of our foreign-born residents. Therefore, with the input of multiple city departments, I submitted recommendations to this Task Force focusing on Public Health, K-12 Education, Economic Development & Small Business, and Adult Education & Workforce Training. I am honored that the White House has recognized Boston as a leading city in fostering a welcoming environment so that all members of our communities have opportunities to contribute and thrive.” – Boston Mayor Marty Walsh
  • “Boise is a city built by immigrants, including my own Basque ancestors. That process is still happening today through our city’s three decade-long role as refugee resettlement community. The White House’s recognition today of the Neighbors United partnership confirms what Boiseans have long known – that our city’s vision for supporting the integration of all of our residents into the fabric of our community and our economy makes us all stronger. Boise has long been a place where people came from around the world to find economic opportunity and build a better life.” – Boise Mayor David Bieter
  • “As a global city, Los Angeles’ economic success depends on integrating our hard-working immigrant communities into our civic tapestry, and that’s why I established a Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “I am honored by the White House’s recognition of my commitment to keep our city and country prospering and proud that our work serves as a model for other cities.” – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

The plan affirms that New Americans contribute significantly to the United States’ social and cultural fabric and are also critical to our country’s continued economic prosperity. Among the key strategies are:

  • Building welcoming communities, including efforts to support existing local efforts through a variety of new channels while also encouraging more communities to implement local integration activities and plans
  • Strengthening existing pathways to naturalization and promoting civic engagement, which includes a variety of strategies to promote naturalization, bolster integration initiatives, increase awareness of the contributions of New Americans to our country, and encourage New Americans to serve as volunteers
  • Supporting skill development, fostering entrepreneurship and small business growth, and protecting New American workers, which includes strategies ranging from helping more New Americans access small business opportunities and training to supporting career pathways
  • Expanding opportunities for linguistic integration and education, which includes cradle-to-career strategies to enhance access to high-quality language acquisition and increase opportunities for post-secondary education and training

The Action Plan places a strong emphasis on the principles and recommendations put forward by Welcoming America, placing a strong emphasis on efforts that build bridges between immigrants and receiving communities. The following excerpts from the plan demonstrate how these will be core to future federal and community efforts:

“The Obama Administration is guided by the core principle that being American is about more than what we look like or where we come from. What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal — that all of us are created equal, and all of us have the chance to make of our lives what we will. By bringing immigrants, refugees, and receiving communities together around integration strategies, we create communities with a welcoming culture and strengthen our ability to ensure that all community members have the tools and opportunities to succeed and fully contribute to our nation.

“In order to ensure successful integration, the Task Force seeks to support and increase the capacity of receiving communities to build welcoming communities. Ultimately, these efforts will require a multifaceted and cross-sector strategy that leverages existing efforts by key stakeholders, all working in partnership with receiving communities.

“Integration is not something immigrants and refugees can achieve in isolation; welcoming environments are necessary to ensure successful outcomes that benefit local communities as well as our nation. For effective integration, we need a comprehensive national and local effort that draws on the strengths and capacity of all sectors of society and all levels of government — a “whole of society” approach.

“Communities play a vital role in welcoming immigrants by celebrating and valuing their diverse linguistic and cultural assets, connecting new residents to long-time residents, and building support networks to assist in integration and community cohesion. Like any relationship, the relationship between immigrants and their communities must be a two-way process with shared opportunities and responsibilities.

“The Task Force takes inspiration from the Welcoming Communities Movement, which engages receiving communities and creates welcoming environments for all community members. This movement is focused on building 21st century communities that attract and retain global talent and investment.”

The Task Force aims to further strengthen the federal government’s integration efforts by making them more strategic and deliberate and to outline the federal government’s goals to bolster its integration efforts nationwide and build welcoming communities. Its efforts are led by Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and León Rodríguez, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and involve sixteen federal departments, agencies, and White House offices. In the coming months, the Task Force will be guided by key goals identified in this plan. This December, it will also submit a progress report to the President.

Welcoming America looks forward to continuing to work with our incredible network of partners to grow and deepen the welcoming communities movement, recognizing that this historic moment is an affirmation of the national importance of this work and a celebration of the work that each of our partners does every day to strengthen communities and build understanding, cooperation, and prosperity. We are proud to have collaborated with National Partnership for New Americans, Global Detroit, and many others in advancing recommendations. Learn more about the recommendations.

Finally, we share this happy news with heavy hearts as we also mourn the loss of a dear friend and leader in the movement for immigrant dignity, Cathy Han Montoya.  Our hearts go out to Cathy’s family and all those who feel this great loss. For ways that you can support Cathy’s family, please stay tuned on our Facebook page.