Today, the White House Task Force on New Americans launches the “Stand Stronger” Citizenship Awareness Campaign. The goal of the Campaign is to raise awareness about the rights, responsibilities, and importance of U.S. citizenship and to provide more information on the naturalization process, along with new tools and resources to prepare for it. The Task Force believes that local communities play a critical role in creating welcoming environments and advancing immigrant integration efforts.
That’s why the Task Force is calling on all local communities — big cities and small towns — to join the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign and commit to making their hometowns a place that welcomes all residents can thrive. Created as part of the President’s immigration executive actions, the Task Force is charged with strengthening the Federal government’s immigrant and refugee integration efforts. The Task Force has reached out to communities around the country to learn about what they are doing to advance immigrant integration efforts. We were inspired by all the great work taking place and hope to encourage even more communities to become welcoming communities.
Today is the 228th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. By carrying on our unique history of welcoming and encouraging newcomers, we help ensure that we continue to form that “more perfect union” envisioned at the heart of our vibrant democracy. This week, communities around the country are also celebrating National Welcoming Week.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 17, 2015
As President Obama has said, as a nation of immigrants, we are constantly being replenished with strivers who believe in the American Dream. It’s what makes us entrepreneurial. And today, more and more communities are recognizing the potential benefits for all their residents by pursuing a welcoming approach. Immigrant integration becomes an engine for innovation when new Americans have access to English classes, civics instruction, job skills training, and tools to succeed as entrepreneurs.
The President is calling on communities to commit, collaborate, and act on a set of principles that focus on creating positive environments for all. Participating communities will advance efforts under three pillars: civic, economic, and linguistic integration. Initially, 40 communities have signed on to the join the campaign. The group includes big and small cities and counties from across the country:
|Allegheny County, PA||Decatur, GA||Oakley, CA|
|Atlanta, GA||Denver, CO||Philadelphia, PA|
|Austin, TX||Detroit, MI||Pittsburgh, PA|
|Baltimore, MD||Dodge City, KS||San Jose, CA|
|Boise, ID||Grand Forks, ND||Santa Fe, CA|
|Boston, MA||High Point, NC||Schuyler, NE|
|Buffalo, NY||Houston, TX||Seattle, WA|
|Charlotte, NC||Lincoln, NE||St. Louis, MO|
|Chicago, IL||Los Angeles, CA||St. Louis County, MO|
|City and County of San Francisco, CA||Louisville, KY||Sterling Heights, MI|
|Clinton Township, MI||Macomb County, MI||Toledo-Lucas County, OH|
|Columbus, OH||Montgomery County, MD||York, PA|
|Crete, NY||Nashville, TN|
Because each community is unique in its circumstances and needs, there is no singular approach to building a welcoming community. Communities will also be assisted through a new public-private partnership which will offer technical assistance and support from non-governmental partners led by Welcoming America, a national organization dedicated to transforming communities into more welcoming places.
The Task Force will also support the campaign by working with participating communities. Examples of locally driven efforts can include:
- Coordinating with local officials from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to increase awareness of citizenship and the naturalization process. USCIS offers a variety of free resources through the Citizenship Resource Center to support communities interested in strengthening pathways to naturalization and civic engagement.
- Partnering with local Chambers of Commerce and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to support immigrant entrepreneurship by providing information about Small Business Administration tools and resources through workshops, roundtables, and other events.
- Creating welcoming schools by working with the Department of Education to learn about best practices and tap into programs that support parent engagement and family literacy opportunities.
The Building Welcoming Communities Campaign is an opportunity to demonstrate authentic civic commitment to immigrant integration. We hope you and your neighbors will join your community in participating. We encourage you to learn more about the campaign, including how to sign up, click here.
León Rodríguez is Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.