Refugees and immigrants come to our shores in search of freedom and opportunities. The process of integrating into a new land in order to achieve self-sufficiency, political and civic involvement, and social inclusion can be difficult but rewarding. We need to build a new kind of community that embraces immigrants and fosters opportunity for all. Communities around the country and across the globe are recognizing that being welcoming and accessible makes them more economically competitive and vibrant places for all residents.
Immigrant integration starts at the local level within schools, workplaces, and civic organizations. However, they cannot do this alone. In order for these efforts to be successful, we need a robust federal investment in welcoming communities. All level of governments—from federal, to state, to local—have a critical role to play in supporting communities embrace immigrants and foster opportunity for all.
Our nation can create a welcoming climate for immigrants and one suited for successful social integration by:
Our success as a nation of immigrants is rooted in the American values of equality and opportunity, as well as our our ongoing commitment to welcoming and integrating newcomers into the fabric of our nation. The impact of successful integration is two-fold: it strengthens the systems and tools that allow immigrants in the U.S. to participate in their jobs and communities, and support their families, while benefiting all Americans by giving immigrants the opportunity to contribute to the vitality of the nation as a whole.
The deepest level of immigrant integration operates at the community level. Successful immigrant integration requires outreach to longtime residents of changing communities and should promote the highest American values of acceptance and equality. National, state, and local policies and programs can encourage mutual respect and cooperation between foreign born and native-born Americans, and create welcoming and supportive communities where all residents can thrive.
The federal government has and can continue to play a unique role in ensuring that communities leverage the competitive advantage that comes from creating a welcoming climate in which immigrants are economically, civically, and linguistically integrated. Ensuring a coordinated response that maximizes resources; leverages interagency and intergovernmental collaboration; and engages both immigrants and receiving communities is vital not only to creatingthe long-term conditions for successful integration, but to securing a positive future for all Americans.
Every community in the country should have an immigrant integration plan and the federal government should encourage the proliferation of local efforts that are intentional and comprehensive. The federal government has an important role to play in incentivizing and supporting such plans, and ensuring that integration is inclusive of the receiving community.
Download a pdf version here.