Obama to Strengthen “Integration Infrastructure”


President Obama’s Task Force on New Americans has issued its much-anticipated plan to facilitate life in the U.S. for immigrants and refugees by enhancing pathways to naturalization, building welcoming communities and providing “mobile immigration services in underserved communities.” The government-wide initiative aims to “strengthen federal immigrant and refugee integration infrastructure.”

This includes multilingual media campaigns promoting immigrant rights and other free tools to make life easier in the U.S. and up to $10 million for “citizenship preparation” programs. The goal is to “strengthen civic, economic and linguistic integration and to build strong and welcoming communities,” according to the report issued this month by the special task force. In the end communities will be strengthened by welcoming all residents, the administration assures. The panel was created by the president in November and is chaired by Cecilia Muñoz, the former vice president of the powerful open borders group National Council of La Raza (NCLR).

Obama recruited Muñoz to be White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs then promoted her to the more powerful and prestigious post of Domestic Policy Director. That gives her tremendous influence as the president’s top adviser on domestic issues as well as the White House official in charge of coordinating and supervising the execution of domestic policy. As head of the Task Force on New Americans Muñoz drafted like-minded leaders from various agencies—including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice, State, Education, Transportation and Health—to brainstorm about ways to empower immigrants.

The proposals include a variety of innovative programs such as immigrant-led storytelling at public libraries around the country and forming a national network of organizations that promote “mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and native-born Americans.” Another brilliant idea is the creation of a national partnership of the largest regional immigrant rights organizations largely located in traditional immigrant receiving states. Their mission would be to provide support to local communities around the U.S. seeking to integrate and empower immigrants and refugees to build welcoming communities.

Practically every federal agency will participate in this effort by contributing resources and creating programs to help immigrants, the report reveals. For example the Department of Labor (DOL) will implement “new workforce programs” for the “new Americans” and the Department of Education will promote “funding opportunities” to assure that the immigrants “are provided the tools they need to succeed.” The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will collaborate with other agencies to release a career and credentialing toolkit on “immigrant-focused career-pathways programs.”

The Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will make sure the new Americans have worker rights and protections, the task force says, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will launch a two-year pilot to assure that non English speakers have “meaningful access to housing programs” subsidized by American taxpayers. “As part of these efforts HUD will develop interactive tools that provide information on HUD programs in multiple languages,” the task force report says.

The document goes on and on for 70 pages and also covers topics like immigrant and refugee settlement trends as well as the “economic benefits of immigrant and refugee integration.” Here’s a predictable snippet from that amusing section: “A large body of academic research has shown that immigration benefits the U.S. economy as a whole, the communities in which immigrants live and the businesses where they work.” Conveniently omitted are the devastating impacts of illegal immigration like the billions of dollars American taxpayers spend annually on their education, healthcare and incarceration.

None of this matters to the Obama administration, which is strong-arming local governments nationwide into participating in this immigrant welcoming effort. In fact, the task force spells this out in its report, writing that 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.” That means there’s a strong need for the federal government to promote a policy framework that enhances state and local integration efforts. Partners will include municipal and state governments, schools, public libraries and community-based organizations, to name a few. In other words all publicly-funded entities will be mobilized by the Obama administration to help immigrants become “new Americans.”

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