As the daughter and son of immigrants, we have lived the American dream. Every day, we work side by side with federal officials who are deeply committed to ensuring that the promise of this dream is available to all Americans, including our newest Americans. That’s why we are honored to serve as the co-chairs of the White House Task Force on New Americans.
One year ago, the President established the Task Force to develop a coordinated federal strategy to better integrate and welcome new Americans into communities and support state and local efforts to do the same. As President Obama stated in his presidential memorandum establishing this interagency effort, “By focusing on the civic, economic, and linguistic integration of new Americans, we can help immigrants and refugees in the United States contribute fully to our economy and their communities.”
Today, we are pleased to share the Task Force’s One-Year Progress Report on implementing its robust federal immigrant and refugee integration strategy. The report highlights Task Force actions and accomplishments on the 16 core goals and 48 recommendations identified in its April 2015 Strategic Action Plan.
Among accomplishments to date, the Task Force has:
- Spearheaded the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign to encourage local immigrant and refugee integration efforts, with 48 cities and counties already joined in the effort, and organized a White House Building Welcoming Communities convening for participating cities and counties;
- Launched two initiatives: the “Stand Stronger” Citizenship Awareness campaign with a video message from President Obama and in partnership with local communities, as well as a complementary campaign at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to promote awareness of the rights, responsibilities, and importance of United States citizenship;
- Named Presidential Ambassadors for Citizenship and Naturalization to harness the stories of prominent new Americans and U.S.-born individuals with immigrant roots to promote naturalization, bolster integration initiatives, and increase awareness of the rich contributions of new Americans;
- Dedicated 150 Welcoming Communities AmeriCorps members to nearly 100 communities through partnerships with the YMCA, Catholic Charities, and eight refugee resettlement organizations to assist local communities with integration efforts;
- Launched the Small Business Administration’s “Made It In America” website to promote immigrant entrepreneurship and piloted new “SBA 101” classes for immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs;
- Expanded access to linguistic integration and education by creating and disseminating best practices and hosting webinars, regional convenings, and other activities to connect new Americans with education systems; and
- Supported five communities seeking to build networks to strengthen integration through adult education providers.
Immigrants and refugees have always been a source of America’s strength.By extending a welcoming hand, the United States has continually tapped new sources of economic and cultural vitality. We can and must continue to reunite families; welcome students, workers, and entrepreneurs who seek to contribute to our economy; and remain a beacon of hope for vulnerable refugees, while ensuring the highest vigilance for our nation’s security. As President Obama has said, we were founded upon a belief in human dignity, and we must never forget what makes us exceptional. At the heart of that is our ability, generation after generation, to welcome newcomers and help them learn and live by the values we share as Americans.
Learn about the Task Force’s Accomplishments in 2015: