New administration, same mission: Immigrant integration

Jan. 20, 2021, marks the public ceremony of the presidential inauguration for the Biden-Harris administration. With many proposals expected during the first 100 days, at least a dozen of these focus on immigration policies alone. This timeline for change may alter, especially as President-elect Biden enters office with a high priority to combat the increasing rates of COVID-19. Fortunately, many local communities can begin the advocacy journey and promote integration of newcomers and long-standing residents today. After all, creating inclusive and welcoming communities aligns directly with the upcoming presidential inauguration theme, “Our Determined Democracy: Forging a More Perfect Union.”

Over the years, the Center for Immigrant Integration has highlighted over 60 ways to promote integration at the local level, ranging from challenging unwelcoming remarks about immigrants, to volunteering, to offering various monthly initiatives. A new year brings new opportunities.

Whether you are looking to implement simple, one-day events or are looking to introduce long-term and reoccurring initiatives, promoting immigrant integration can take place in various ways. It is important to assess the need and readiness of your community. The Center for Immigrant Integration has three surveys that focus on the perspective of the community, client, and agency. Each survey is designed to provide a multi-perspective picture of immigrant integration in your community. The data collected from each survey can help develop a local integration initiative that reflect the needs and wants of your members in your community.

Next, don’t be afraid to engage with local elected officials. While CLINIC is pushing for the new administration to create an Office of New Americans within the White House and to develop a federal definition of integration, many cities have their own office of immigrant affairs supported by local officials. Having a dedicated office at the local government level to support immigrants and refugees helps set the stage for broader integration efforts. In addition to creating a space that actively seeks to highlight and welcome diversity and inclusion, these offices provide equal access to resources and services. Listen to CLINIC’s recorded 4-part webinar series: Promoting Immigrant Integration in Partnership with City Government for basic tips in collaborating and establishing a partnership with local government.

Lastly, this year has been a roller coaster of events and many of us are feeling fatigue from COVID-19, the elections or simply feeling burnt out. Hosting a virtual lunch or coffee and conversation event is one way to relax and connect with new community members. For more ideas, read other initiatives implemented by CLINIC affiliates.

If you aren’t quite ready to step into action and instead want to know how and where to start, read CLINIC’s Step by Step Guide to Local Integration Programming. Promoting immigrant integration ensures that families stay together while keeping people safe with equal access to basic services. Immigrant integration creates a community that people feel part of and dedicated to. A community that celebrates diversity is a thriving community.

Do you have an integration initiative you would like CLINIC to highlight? Share with us today!