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What They're Saying: Task Force on New Americans

 “For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities — people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose.”

— President Barack Obama, November 21, 2014

On Tuesday, April 14th, the White House unveiled the Task Force on New Americans report, “Strengthening Communities by Welcoming All Residents: A Federal Strategic Action Plan on Immigrant and Refugee Integration” The Task Force represents a critical step toward realizing President Obama’s goal of better integrating the 41.3 million foreign-born individuals living in the United States.  To most effectively help immigrants and refugees contribute fully to our economy and their communities, the Task Force offers key goals that the federal government will attempt to address through 48 recommended actions it will take. The goals and recommended actions cover four areas, including civic, economic, and linguistic integration as well as efforts to build welcoming communities.

The Obama Administration will work closely to engage with business, community, and faith leaders, as well as State and local elected officials to implement these actions and determine additional steps the federal government can take to ensure its programs and policies are effectively serving diverse communities. Mayors and local officials from across the country have vocalized their support for the Task Force on New Americans, and many business leaders and community organizations have pledged to join the President in building welcoming communities.

This report is an important step. But there is much more to be done, including through passage of comprehensive immigration reform, which President Obama continues to strongly support.

Here is a look at what business leaders, local elected officials and community leaders are saying about the Task Force on New Americans.

“As a very fortunate immigrant who became a citizen years ago, I understand the challenges that my immigrant employees face when applying for citizenship. The work that my hotel does to help them earn citizenship is critical, but the work the Task Force is doing has the opportunity to help millions of green-card holders become citizens.”   

— Robert Hill, General Manager, Intercontinental Miami

“With more than 500,000 employees eligible to become citizens, Miami is one of the cities that stands to benefit the most from the goals outlined by the White House Task Force on New Americans. In order to help our city reach her fullest potential, we must be willing to commit to helping new Americans attain the opportunities, skills and status they need to reach their fullest potential.”

—    Wendy Kallergis, President and CEO, Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association

“Our hotel has been helping its immigrant employees earn citizenship for over a year now, and we’ve been doing it partly because it’s good for our bottom-line. Helping more lawful permanent residents with the citizenship process through these findings will help the Miami economy grow and help maintain and grow our city’s workforce.”

— Jonathan Plutzik, Chairman and Owner, The Betsy – South Beach

 “The Task Force's recommendations provide a smart framework to advance the economic, linguistic and civic integration of new Americans into every aspect of our society. From Boston to Los Angeles to New York to Seattle, cities worked in close collaboration to contribute to this report, and we are thrilled that it reflects the lessons from our shared experiences on the front lines. Our cities are taking action, and looking forward to the full implementation of President Obama's executive actions on immigration, which are critical to the continued growth of our economy and the vitality and strength of our communities.”

--- Cities United For Immigration Action

"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.  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."

 —Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles, CA

“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.”

Mayor David Bieter, Boise, ID

“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 integration efforts in Atlanta.”

 — Mayor Kasim Reed, Atlanta, GA

“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.”

Mayor Marty Walsh, Boston, MA

“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.”

— Mayor Nan Whaley, Dayton, OH

“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.”

— Commissioner Matt Joseph, Dayton, OH

“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 America

“NPNA applauds the Task Force for their thoughtful report, including chapters on welcoming communities, citizenship, and economic and linguistic integration.”

— National Partnership for New Americans

“This is the absolute right step – as a country we must focus on providing solutions for the 8.8 million lawful permanent residents who are eligible to become citizens today. It’s important for our business leaders, their workers, and our communities. I urge the White House Task Force on New Americans to make good on actions like these that will help new Americans attain the opportunities, skills and status they need to reach their fullest potential.”

— Ali Noorani, Executive Director, National Immigration Forum

The transformative potential of this action plan can hardly be overstated. For the first time in our nation’s history, it institutionalizes the principles of immigrant integration in the highest office of our land, the White House, thus enshrining in deed what our words across the ages have often said — that immigration is a core part of this nation’s character, of its exceptional place on the world stage.”

— Eva Millona, Executive Director, Massachusetts Immigrant & Refugee Advocacy Coalition

“Community colleges stand at the forefront of immigrant integration – we provide ESL and civics classes, guidance, and citizenship help to immigrants in our communities. The citizenship process can be complicated which is why these recommendations by the White House Task Force on New Americans are so critical. We’re committed to the social, civic, and linguistic integration of immigrants.”

— Teresita Wisell, Vice President and Dean of Continuing Education and Workforce Development, Westchester Community College

“We are pleased with the Task Force’s initial set of recommendations to promote the successful incorporation of millions of new immigrants into the fabric of our society, and we are anxious to see them turned into action.”

— Victoria Benner, Senior Legislative Analyst, NCLR

“The recommendations proposed by the Task Force on New Americans are a critical first step in moving our nation forward by making the naturalization process more accessible for the 8.7 million eligible legal permanent residents living here today. It is important that we continue to uphold our values as a nation by continuing to strive to provide new Americans with the opportunity to contribute fully to our nation’s rich civic and economic life.”

—    Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund

 “There is a crucial element of the immigration story that is too often ignored – the barriers preventing millions of eligible immigrants from becoming American citizens.  The New Americans Campaign applauds the efforts to encourage naturalization and to help lawful permanent residents achieve their American dream.”

— Eric Cohen, Executive Director, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, which leads the New Americans Campaign