WASHINGTON – Today, the National Office of New American Act was introduced in Congress by Representatives Grace Meng (NY), Pramila Jayapal (WA) and Jesús “Chuy” García (IL) in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senators Ed Markey (MA) and Mazie Hirono (HI) in the U.S. Senate.
The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), a leading national coalition of 41 immigrant and refugee rights organizations, endorsed the legislation, which would create a National Office within the White House, with the purpose of developing and implementing a national strategy to facilitate the integration of immigrants into the civic, economic, and social fabric of our society.
The National Office of New Americans Act is a stand-alone measure from the larger New Deal for New Americans Act (H.R. 4928; S. 3470), which complements the establishment of the Office with measures that expand access to citizenship, workforce development, and English-language learning programs, legal services, and increase the amount of refugees the U.S. resettles yearly.
With new leadership in the White House, immigrant and refugee communities are ready for a bold, visionary federal approach that ensures that every immigrant and refugee can achieve their full potential in their new home country.
The National Office would oversee national integration efforts, in coordination with federal agencies as well as state and local governments. These efforts would support immigrants and refugees in employment attainment, language access, and naturalization, and civic engagement, and ensure that they have due process protections and legal information in the form of an attorney and immigration legal services. The establishing of the Office would also amplify the message that immigrants are welcome in our country – a value expressed through the Biden-Harris administration’s first executive actions on immigration – and help to implement key services necessary if the administration’s proposed immigration reform bill becomes law.
“After a historic 2020 election where new American voters contributed to the record voter turnout among people of color, and following four years of an onslaught of cruel, anti-immigrant policies, we’re ready for full immigrant inclusion under the Biden-Harris administration, including the establishment of a National Office of New Americans” noted Nicole Melaku, executive director of NPNA. “A rising tide lifts all boats, and when immigrants and refugees have all the tools at their disposal to achieve their full potential, our whole nation reaps the benefits.”
The National Office of New Americans, if created, would institutionalize a campaign pledge of the Biden-Harris administration, which is to create a Task Force on New Americans within its first 100 days in office. A similar task force was created by the Obama administration but then disbanded by the Trump administration, indicating the need for statutory protections to ensure that immigrant integration efforts are a consistent part of federal policy initiatives.
“For far too long, immigrants have been viewed as a problem that needs to be solved rather than what they truly are – an essential piece of the fabric of our nation. Comprehensive immigration reform necessitates not only reversals of the harmful policies from the past four years, but a long-term commitment to building a system that reflects our country’s values of inclusion and justice,” said Eva Millona, CEO of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, and co-chair of NPNA’s Board of Directors. “The establishment of a National Office of New Americans would do just that by investing in immigrant integration and inclusion. We extend our deepest appreciation to Senator Ed Markey and Congresswoman Grace Meng for their leadership and urge Congress to pass this legislation immediately.”
“Immigrants and refugees have always been the backbone of America’s success throughout history,” said Rovika Rajkishun, interim co-executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “The founding of the National Office of New Americans would re-establish our country’s commitment to the very people that have kept our economic engines going as essential workers throughout this pandemic and ensures that immigrants and refugees have what they and their families need to thrive. We thank the National Partnership for New Americans and Reps. Meng, Jayapal, García, and Senator Markey for their steadfast dedication to the well-being of our communities and their recognition of the vital role all immigrants play in America.”