February 25th, 2015 by Romona Paden
Innovation and growth fostered by a vibrant immigration system fueled the president’s formation of a task force that’s focused on integration and support mechanisms.
One of the immigration initiatives President Obama discussed in his November 2014 announcement—the White House Task Force on New Americans—is rooted in the longstanding recognition of immigration as a crucial underpinning of thriving cultures and economies. By identifying key factors in maintaining vibrant immigration patterns, the task force is intended to drive immigrant success.
Focusing on “civic, economic and linguistic integration of new Americans” and through the creation of “welcoming communities for all residents,” the president hopes to maintain immigrant innovation. According to the presidential memorandum on the task force, “Civic integration provides security in rights and liberties. Economic integration empowers self-sufficiency and allows new Americans to give back to their communities and contribute to economic growth.” The memo also discusses the importance of English language adoption, identifying proficiency as important for “employment and career advancement along with active civic participation.”
In essence, the task force calls for federal agencies to develop methods of outreach to immigrants. Departments of Education, Labor, Agriculture and others have all been tasked with finding ways to “expand and replicate successful models.” The idea here is to maintain the United States as a highly desirable destination for people all around the world.
Operationally, the task force calls for federal agencies to develop relationships with local public and private leaders in community, business and religious communities. As federal agencies and local entities develop constructive conversations around immigration, the president hopes to determine “additional steps the Federal Government can take to ensure its programs and policies are serving diverse communities that include new Americans.”
Ensuring opportunity to immigrants is fundamental to ensuring a healthy nation. While foreign-born residents make up 13 percent of the nation’s population, the demographic also represents more than 16 percent of the country’s workforce. What’s more the group accounts for 28 percent of all new businesses. As President Obama notes, “It is important that we develop a Federal immigrant integration strategy that is innovative and competitive with those of other industrialized nations and supports mechanisms to ensure that our Nation’s diverse people are contributing to society to their fullest potential.”