White House-led efforts to help immigrants integrate into the culture and economy of the United States continued in February as the city of Houston hosted the second White House Regional Convening on New Americans. The series of meetings is intended to discuss and promote best practices around civic, economic and language integration efforts.
Immigrants living in Houston make up 27 percent of the city’s population. More than 20 percent of immigrants living throughout the state of Texas live in Houston. Twenty-nine percent of the city’s labor force and 31 percent of its business owners are immigrants.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner offered opening remarks at the meeting by stressing the reciprocal benefits of integration efforts for both communities and immigrants.
“Our focus is on how we can maximize our investment in Houston’s greatness—its people,” Mayor Turner said, “To excel in a twenty-first century economy in this vibrant city, where more than a quarter of the population is foreign-born, we must ensure that Houston’s social and economic opportunities remain open to all individuals and businesses. We must strong build bridges that connect our newest Houstonians and those who have lived here all of their lives.”
Besides local officials in Houston, other participants included the Houston District Office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service and Neighborhood Centers Inc. Discussion topics included Houston’s changing demographics as well as current immigration and refugee integration efforts in the city.
Attendees also included representatives from the Small Business Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Children and Families and the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Besides sharing information about existing integration efforts, leaders also attended breakout sessions to discuss action items geared toward strengthening regional integration efforts as well as the development of federal / local partnerships.
Houston is one of 48 cities and counties around the country participating the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign. The campaign is part of the White House Task Force on New Americans and the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.
“We take great pride in the generations of immigrants and refugees that helped build the state’s thriving economy and shape our unique Texas culture,” officials remark in a release.