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Current News & Announcements

Immigrant Owned-Businesses Help Shape Local Economy, Communities in Greater New Haven
Esteban L. Hernandez
May 2, 2015
New Haven Register

The Fascinating Story Behind Why So Many Nail Technicians Are Vietnamese
Celeste Hoang
May 5, 2015

Upcoming Events

Washington, DC
May 21, 2015
Migrant Integration Policy Index 2015 Announces Rankings and Results

Mexico City, Mexico
September 7-11, 2015
20th Metropolis International
Immigration Conference

New York City, New York
December 13-15, 2015
National Immigrant Integration Conference



The White House Task Force on New Americans

In April 2015, an initiative of the Obama Administration marked a historic moment in immigration work. For what is generally viewed as a first time, the federal government released a report on immigrant integration: The White House Task Force on New Americans: Strengthening Communities by Welcoming All Residents: A Federal Strategic Action Plan on Immigrant & Refugee Integration.


After receiving recommendations from 350 organizations and individuals, the White House Task Force produced a 70-page document with hundreds of recommendations. Four essential pillars focus the broad content: 

  1. Building Welcoming Communities
  2. Strengthening Existing Pathways to Naturalization and Promoting Civic Engagement
  3. Supporting Skill Development, Fostering Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth, and Protecting New American Workers
  4. Expanding Opportunities for Linguistic Integration and Education

The report is both understandably and unfortunately focused on local communities. We affirm the essential observation that all integration is local. The report builds on the sociologist's language: immigrant integration is a "dynamic two-way process" in which both the immigrant and the residents of a receiving community engage "to foster greater understanding, promote inclusiveness, speed economic success, and build secure, vibrant, and cohesive communities." The opportunities to advance this agenda are boundless and offer a role for virtually every level of government and every type of agency in the community - including the federal government.


Where is the federal agenda? What stimulus will there be in the Department of Education to address the primacy of learning English by offering courses for all and fostering the best practices for English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)? What priority will be set in the Department of Labor to open the labor market to the most talented and most eager workers who are currently facing work barriers to equal and appropriate employment? What action will flow from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to foster greater accessibility for gaining citizenship and for the reunification of families currently divided by the administrative hindrances of the immigration system? How will the Department of Justice take current policing concerns and work on equal protection of ethnic and linguistic minorities? These and many other questions will now need attention as the report becomes the basis of another White House summit and a determination of both priorities and deliverable federal action.


The report has met with varied reactions. Paul Stein, former state coordinator of refugee resettlement of Colorado said, "This is a good toolbox by the federal government for local implantation." A strategic assessment was offered by one of the report's prime instigators, Eva Millona of Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Coalition (MIRA) and National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA): "We recommend to the White House to prioritize those policies with the highest and most immediate possible impact, one under each of the four strategic areas, as well as a framework to implement that policy. In the area of Strengthening Existing Pathways to Naturalization and Promoting Civic Engagement, for example, we would recommend focusing on completion of the fee study (i.e. the cost of naturalization). Under Expanding Opportunities for Linguistic Integration and Education, the greatest immediate impact could come from strengthening technical support to states and school districts on best practice ESOL and Adult Education model, including guidance on leveraging funding available through existing state or federal funding streams. Finally, under Supporting Skill Development, Fostering Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth, and Protecting New American Workers, the Task Force and participating federal agencies can leverage ongoing Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) implementation efforts in states nationwide to strengthen partnerships and technical assistance that will strengthen the economic integration of New Americans through the workforce system."


The focus on the American workforce is a natural priority while the U.S. enjoys a strong economy and relatively high employment levels. Amanda Bergson-Shilcock of the National Skills Coalition wrote, "It was gratifying to see that the Task Force made a clear connection between immigrant integration activities and workforce issues, particularly the implementation of the WIOA. Immigrant-serving organizations should act now to be part of their state's WIOA planning process, and should consider submitting public comments on the proposed federal WIOA regulations. In addition, it is important to be on the lookout for upcoming federal policy guidance on career pathways and credentials, which can help immigrant workers to improve their employment prospects. Finally, WIOA's new emphasis on Integrated Education and Training models such as I-BEST provides a key opportunity for adult education programs to more tightly connect their classroom activities to employment."


Migration Policy Institute's Margie McHugh, notes that the breadth of the report could make us "worse off rather than better off." In her initial assessment she focused on the issue of language learning as the core and that in a time of the WIOA, the varied needs of language learning could be lost in the focus on transition programs to the workforce from secondary education. McHugh affirmed the report as needed and one keeping America competitive with Europe that has long been developing a "brain track how immigrant integration is progressing." She notes the need for the broad horizontal look of this report and the breadth of participants but called for a vertical follow up. McHugh also notes that "we see this as a beginning and not an end point. We need a vertical coordination for state and local government to make this real, making how to solve problems real." On language leaning she pressed the point that "we have been limping along for so many years. There is a huge gap and we haven't figured out how to improve the number of programs or organized our thinking about what programs to run."


The Obama White House historic initiative is ground breaking. The conversation reaching across the federal government is vital and we support that it must now find the vertical integration with local government and the implementation partners with non-profit organizations in this arena. Having Welcoming Communities is an easy affirmation but this compilation of policy recommendations now requires work. Applied research that identifies effective integration patterns and numerates the obstacles is essential. The IIL will contribute more from comparative study with the release of the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX IV) a study detailing 148 policy indicators and how rights, responsibilities and opportunities impact the achievement of full immigrant integration.


Immigrant integration has attained a new level of engagement but a plan is yet to emerge.


 Westy Egmont, Director

BCSSW Immigrant Integration Lab

OrganizationalAGENCY FOCUS
The National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) is a national multiethnic and multiracial partnership that aims to achieve a just, vibrant democracy for all. With new immigrants at the heart of their organization, the NPNA dedicates itself to upholding equality and opportunity as fundamental American values. The NPNA was founded by 12 of the largest statewide immigrant advocacy organizations in the country in order to leverage existing immigrant integration work and expertise. Their focus is on citizenship, creating an engaged voice of new Americans in the nation's civic life, advocating for improved processes and structures that serve new Americans, and promoting the shared vision of state coalitions that are committed to integration work. The NPNA views immigrant integration as a two-way process; when the systems and tools that allow immigrants to fully participate in their families, jobs and communities are strengthened, all Americans benefit as immigrants contribute to the vitality of the nation as a whole.


Working for immigrant integration, the NPNA partners with statewide immigrant advocacy groups from 19 different states. The Partnership hosts the nation's primary annual national conference (the National Immigrant Integration Conference) where professionals from the advocacy, policy, service, corporate, labor, and academic worlds can come together to share and to learn practical solutions for immigrant integration. Josh Hoyt, former head of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, is the Executive Director. To learn more about the NPNA and the state-level organizations partners please click here > > 


The revised naturalization exam and Chinese immigrants in the United States: Key issues for social workers 

Yep, K. S., Zhao, T., Wang, C., Pang, S., & Wang, P. (2014).

Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 23, pp. 271-288

Literacy for All of Monterey Park (LAMP) is a local family and adult literacy program that was developed in Southern California to meet the changing needs of a community where 76% of residents now speak a language other than English at home. English language proficiency was identified as a critical milestone to achievement in education, integration, and citizenship. The authors of this study analyzed data collected from a Chinese immigrant community using semi-structured interviews, surveys, and participant observation over a four-year period. Immigrants in this community identified several barriers to learning skills for their naturalization exam, including lack of access to educational resources, marginalization, low socio-economic status, and difficulties with English pronunciation and learning a new alphabet. Researchers also identified learning strategies that were preferred by program participants, such as peer support groups.

Read more > >


Belonging in Charlotte: Multiscalar differences in local immigration politics and policies

Furuseth, O., Smith, H., & McDaniel, P. (2015). 

Geographical Review, 105, pp. 1-19

The city of Charlotte, North Carolina developed local immigrant-friendly policies as a strategy to increase foreign investment and global competitiveness. However, policies shaped at the federal, state, and local levels can vary in implementation and impact even at the neighborhood level. This article examines two neighborhoods in Charlotte with a high percentage of foreign-born residents, and the impact that local policies about utilizing public spaces can have on residents' feelings of trust and inclusion in a community.  

Read more > >  


How do social service providers view recent immigrants? Perspectives from Portland, Maine, and Olympia, Washington

Clevenger, C., Derr, A. S., Cadge, W., & Curran, S. (2014).

Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies, 12, pp. 67-86

There is extensive literature on the economic, political, and civic incorporation of immigrants, but the experiences and perspectives of social service providers, who are often the front-line workers with the immigrant population, have been largely overlooked. This study explores how social service providers in two small, geographically distinct cities - Portland, Maine, and Olympia, Washington - understand the importance of welcoming and incorporating new immigrants in their cities. Despite differences in Portland and Olympia, the results of this study show that providers in both cities combine a sense of moral responsibility to help immigrants, with an emphasis on the economic and cultural resources immigrants bring to cities.

Read more > >



Immigrant integration through mediating social institutions: Issues and strategies

Zimmerman, M. J., de Haymes, M. V., & Lorentzen, L. (2014). 

Journal of Community Practice, 22(3), pp. 299-323

The issue of immigrant integration is the focus of this study, which examines immigrant integration in two U.S. cities: San Francisco, California and Chicago, Illinois. This study is part of a larger 2007 multi-country study of immigrant integration practices conducted by CeiMigra, a migration research institute based in Valencia, Spain. This study analyzed data collected in the two U.S. study sites, which consisted of 19 extensive qualitative interviews with politicians, policy makers, labor leaders, and non-government and migrant association leaders regarding issues around immigrant integration. Two primary points of integration were identified by the interviewees: the economy and local communities. Common barriers affecting both documented and undocumented immigrants were identified, as well as local strategies that promote integration into the economy and the community. Study participants noted the burden on local communities to address immigrant incorporation and called for stronger and more systematic integration programs and policies at the federal level.

Read more > >






The New Bostonians: How Immigrants Have Transformed the Metro Area Since the 1960s

By Marilynn S. Johnson (Professor of History at Boston College)

University of Massachusetts Press (To be published in August 2015)

In The New Bostonians, Johnson examines the historical confluence of recent immigration and urban transformation in greater Boston, a region that underwent dramatic decline after World War II. Since the 1980s, the Boston area has experienced an astounding renaissance - a development, she argues, to which immigrants have contributed in numerous ways. From 1970 to 2010, the percentage of foreign-born residents of the city more than doubled, representing far more diversity than earlier waves of immigration. Like the older Irish, Italian, and other European immigrant groups whose labor once powered the region's industrial economy, these newer migrants have been crucial in re-building the population, labor force, and metropolitan landscape of the New Boston, although the fruits of the new prosperity have not been equally shared.


Latinos and the 2012 Election: The New Face of the American Voter

By Gabriel R. Sanchez

Michigan State University Press (To be published in June 2015)

In giving President Obama a record level of support (75%) and reaching a watershed 10% of the voting population, Latinos proved to be a decisive force in the 2012 election outcome - an unprecedented mark of influence for this segment of the wider electorate. This shift also signaled a radical re-envisioning of mobilization strategies by both parties and created a sea change in the way political organizations conduct outreach and political engagement efforts. In this groundbreaking volume, experts in Latino politics ask: What is the scope of Latino voter influence, where does this electorate have the greatest impact, and what issues matter to them most? They examine a key national discussion - immigration reform - as it relates to voter behavior, and also explore the influence of Latinos within key states, including California, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Nevada, and Florida.


Education and Immigration 

By Grace Kao, Elizabeth Vaquera, and Kimberly Goyette

John Wiley & Sons (2013)

"America is both an immigrant society and an education society." -Yu Xie, University of Michigan. As its title indicates, Education and Immigration successfully intertwines the themes of education and immigration while it critically examines the dynamics in immigrant groups concerning race, identity, language, socioeconomic class, and schooling experience. This book enhances our understanding of current educational achievement gap issues, as well as potential ways of integrating immigrants through education.

The Children of Immigrants at School: A Comparative Look at Integration in the United States and Western Europe

By Richard Alba and Jennifer Holdaway

New York University Press (2013)

Douglas Massey once remarked, "Virtually all developed nations have become countries of immigration, and schools have become the crucible for assimilation in each society." This is exactly the case with the United States, the history of which is closely interwoven with immigration, integration, and education. With the increasing number of immigrants coming to the United States, children of immigrants have substantially added to the diversity of the school contexts. How do these children from linguistically and culturally diverse backgrounds assimilate into the American society through schooling? What are their experiences, challenges, and stories in the process? How is the United States context different from that of Western Europe in terms of providing education for the children of immigrants? Through a comparative lens, The Children of Immigrants at School critically examines the aforementioned issues and broadens our understanding of education of the marginalized populations.

Adult Language Education and Migration: Challenging Agendas in Policy and Practice

By James Simpson and Anne Whiteside

Routledge (2015)

As the world's most economically and politically powerful country, the United States is continuously attracting a significant number of immigrants each year, most of whom speak languages other than English. The education of language is therefore of crucial importance in the process of successful immigrant integration. Adult Language Education and Migration critically examines the issues of language, education, and immigration in nine different sociopolitical contexts. By contextualizing education and linguistic integration within various social environments, this book provides a balanced picture of the complexities of language, policy and integration not only for educators, researchers, and politicians, but also for general readers who are interested in language policy and social integration.

Integration Nation: Immigrants, Refugees, and America at its Best

By Susan Eaton (Eaton's work has regularly appeared in the IIL's Newsletters)

The New Press (To be published in January 2016) 

Integration Nation challenges America's xenophobic impulses and offers readers a road map against anti-immigrant sentiment by giving voice to people who welcome immigrants as they become integral members of their new communities. In Utah, for example, educators connect newly arrived Spanish-speaking students with U.S.-born English-speaking students. In North Carolina, a fast-growing community-development credit union supports both U.S.-born depositors and immigrants by lowering borrowing thresholds and crime rates. As our nation continues its struggle along the path of integrating immigrants, Integration Nation offers a refreshing look at people who choose integration over exclusion and open-heartedness over fear.

EDITORS: C. Burrell, V. Corbera, W. Egmont, L. Falotico, L. Ferreira, K. Kalliontzi, J. Margolis, J. Nomeland, J. Ozieblowski, & Q. Zhang
We would like to thank our editorial team for their wonderful contributions and congratulate them on their upcoming graduation. Best wishes to all.