The White House Task Force has released a new strategic action plan detailing a course of action geared towards improving immigrant and refugee integration in the U.S.

The Task Force included the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of Commerce, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice, Department of Labor and more, including White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Leon Rodriguez, both served as co-chairs.

The report, titled, "Strengthening Communities By Welcoming All Residents: A Federal Strategic Action Plan on Immigrant and Refugee Integration," stated, "This plan outlines the Task Force's integration strategy for the federal government, including goals and recommended actions to build welcoming communities; strengthen existing pathways to naturalization and promote civic engagement; support the skill development, entrepreneurship, and protect new American workers; expand opportunities for linguistic integration and education; and strengthen federal immigrant and refugee integration infrastructure."

According to a statement to President Barack Obama, Muñoz and Rodriguez wrote that the details in the report included input from numerous individuals, faith-and-community-based organizations, local officials, private sector and agencies.

One of the goals and recommendations is to build welcoming communities. This effort is projected to start in the spring for local governments to develop and implement integration strategies tailored to their communities' needs. Many of these communities will receive a toolkit to guide them while creating a "welcoming community."

The Task Force will engage eligible immigrants and refugees to consider the naturalization process. The DHS will launch a national multilingual media campaign to heighten awareness of the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizenship. The USCIS will also attempt to notify permanent residents about their potential eligibility for naturalization.

Skills and entrepreneurial development is also on the agenda by the Task Force. The Task Force recognized immigrants and refugees' contribution to the U.S. economy. The Small Business Administration is expected to pilot a new program aimed at specific cities for immigrants to understand business and financial fundamentals. The SBA will also launch the "Made It In America" campaign to highlight notable U.S. entrepreneurs who have utilized the SBA to succeed. The Labor Department, with the Justice Department and USCIS, will provide information on workers' employment rights and protections.

The report continued, "English language acquisition is vitally important for new Americans' success. The Obama Administration will implement cradle-to-career strategies to enhance access to high-quality language acquisition and increase opportunities for postsecondary education and training."

"The pillars of civic, economic, and linguistic integration cannot be supported without the collaboration of state and local governments, the nonprofit and private sectors, schools, philanthropic organizations, community-based organizations, immigrant-and-refugee-serving organizations, religious institutions, and private citizens," wrote Muñoz and Rodriguez. "Only with a sustained effort from all of us can we ensure that the integration of new Americans remains a national priority."

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum said the goals and recommendations in the report is the "absolute right step" on providing solutions for more than eight million lawful permanent residents who are eligible to become citizens today.

"It's important for our business leaders, their workers, and our communities," added Noorani. "I urge the White House Task Force on New Americans to make good on actions like these that will help new Americans attain the opportunities, skills and status they need to reach their fullest potential." 

 Arturo Vargas, the educational fund executive director for the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO) also welcomed the task force's recommendations. 

"The recommendations proposed by the Task Force on New Americans are a critical first step in moving our nation forward by making the naturalization process more accessible for the 8.7 million eligible legal permanent residents living here today," said Vargas. "It is important that we continue to uphold our values as a nation by continuing to strive to provide new Americans with the opportunity to contribute fully to our nation's rich civic and economic life." 

The Task Force will provide Obama a status report in December 2015.


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