Reps. García, Meng, Jayapal and Senator Markey Introduce National Office of New Americans Act

January 28, 2021
Press Release
As President Biden aims to overhaul the American immigration system, this legislation would help welcome and support immigrants and refugees as they adapt to life in the United States

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Reps. Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), Grace Meng (D-NY), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) introduced the National Office of New Americans Act in the House of Representatives. U.S. Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) will introduce the same measure in the Senate. The bill—which seeks to welcome and assist immigrants and refugees as they acclimate to life in America—comes as President Biden seeks to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.

Specifically, the legislation would establish an office within the Executive Office of the President to coordinate federal, state, and local efforts that help immigrants and refugees obtain employment, and assist with language access, and civic engagement. It would also oversee the coordination of work by federal, state, and local governments to support integration efforts, such as helping to attain citizenship.

“When my family and I arrived in the U.S., we were welcomed into a community and provided services enabling us to make America our home. I am hopeful for a future where immigrants are fully included in the social and economic fabric of our diverse nation,” said Congressman Jesús "Chuy" García. “Achieving these ideals goes beyond providing legal status or citizenship -- it includes ensuring immigrants can achieve the dignity of work, livable wages, and access to affordable health care and education. Our success as a nation is tied to the success of our immigrant brothers and sisters and the National Office of New Americans Act will help immigrant communities thrive.”

“Immigrants make indelible contributions to our nation, and it is long past time that we create an entity in the Executive Office of the President that ensures our country is welcoming and helpful toward those who come to our shores,” said Congresswoman Meng. “While we aspire to be a beacon of hope and opportunity, we must match word with deed. We cannot allow immigrants to be treated as an afterthought; we must ensure their path to becoming ‘new Americans’ is clear and well resourced. After the atrocious last four years of an administration that demonized, criminalized, and dehumanized immigrants and refugees at every turn, our bill would ensure a welcoming and inclusive system for all new Americans. I thank my colleagues for joining me to introduce the National Office of New Americans Act as we look to building a more prosperous country that recognizes the humanity and dignity of all immigrants and refugees.”

“The United States has a moral obligation to provide safety, dignity, and opportunity to the immigrants and new Americans who enrich our nation,” said Senator Markey. “Sadly, during the pandemic, our immigrant neighbors were first to get sick as essential workers but last to get the health care they needed. The National Office of New Americans will create a welcoming and inclusive system for our new Americans, and provide the support and resources they need in order to fully thrive in the United States. This is our opportunity to create a more humane and just immigration system that sees the dignity in all those who hope to make the United States home.”

“As someone who came to the United States alone at the age of 16 and later founded Washington state’s largest immigrant rights organization, I know just how important it is to provide our newest Americans with valuable resources and helpful tools as they integrate in their communities,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “Modeled after successful programs in places like Seattle where I helped create the Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, the National Office of New Americans Act will mobilize resources at the federal level to finally create an office in the White House focused on assisting and supporting new immigrants and refugees with essential integration aspects such as employment attainment, language access and civic engagement.”

"A rising tide lifts all boats. At this historical moment, it's time to come together and drive forward a national strategy to include immigrants and refugees, for the benefit of all,” said Nicole Melaku, Executive Director of National Partnership for New Americans. “The National Office of New Americans is that vehicle and is how we expand citizenship and access to justice through immigration legal services, and innovate workforce development and English language learning programs for our shared prosperity. We are proud to stand with Representatives Meng, Jayapal, and García, and Senator Markey, as they present this proactive approach to how the federal government treats our communities."

“The pandemic and economic crisis remind us of the vital contributions aspiring Americans make to our nation,” said Clarissa Martínez De Castro, Deputy Vice President for UnidosUS. “Immigrants are part of America’s DNA, and it is a well-established fact that when immigrants become citizens, they deepen their roots and participation, increase their wages and tax contributions, and strengthen even more our local communities and economies. By expanding access to naturalization and promoting immigrants’ full inclusion in our society, Reps. Meng’s, Jayapal’s, García’s, and Senator Markey’s ‘National Office for New Americans Act’ will unleash the full potential of new citizens and help fuel our economic recovery. UnidosUS applauds the bill’s introduction and will work to ensure that the National Office for New Americans becomes reality.”

“There are 45 million immigrants who are an essential part of the fabric of communities across this country, and it is frankly way overdue that the White House have an office dedicated to our particular needs,” said Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York. “We’re excited to support Reps. Meng’s, Jayapal’s, García’s, and Senator Markey’s important new legislation to create a National Office of New Americans and work with them and our allies across the country to make it a reality.”

“The United States fulfills its promise as a beacon for refugees and immigrants when our policies actively work to integrate and include all who seek safety and security here,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). “I commend Representatives Meng, Jayapal, and García and Senator Markey for their leadership on this legislation which would create an office in the Executive Branch dedicated to welcoming and including immigrants into all levels of our society. As a Jewish anti-hate organization rooted in a community that has experienced the plight of living as refugees and immigrants throughout its history, ADL looks forward to working with the Office of New Americans to affirm ours as a nation of welcome and to dispel anti-immigrant hate for good.”

"Immigrants and refugees have always been the backbone of America's success throughout history," said Anu Joshi, Vice President of Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition. "The founding of the National Office of New Americans reestablishes our country's commitment to the very people that have kept our economic engines going as essential workers throughout this pandemic and ensures that immigrants and refugees have what they and their families need to thrive. We thank Reps. Meng, Jayapal, García, and Senator Markey for their steadfast dedication to the well-being of our communities and their recognition of the vital role all immigrants play in America."

"President Biden and Congress have a critical opportunity to reimagine the way that we treat immigrants in the United States. We must work to create a system that treats people with dignity and respect – and once again positions the United States as a beacon of hope and opportunity – but also pursue opportunities to foster greater connection between immigrants and the communities in which they live. The National Office for New Americans Act would achieve that goal by focusing federal resources on supporting immigrants in becoming part of American social, cultural, and civic life," said Jorge Loweree, policy director at the American Immigration Council.

"The Biden Administration has put forth a bold plan to reform our nation's immigration system in a way that honors America's aspirational ideals as a welcoming country and place of refuge," said Laura M. Esquivel, Vice President, Federal Policy and Advocacy at the Hispanic Federation. "A National Office of New Americans will support this vision by creating opportunities for the effective inclusion of immigrants and refugees across government agencies and services and, ultimately, into the fabric of this country."

“The Asian American Federation is excited by the National Office of New Americans, which will support all immigrants who land on our shores,” said Jo-Ann Yoo, Executive Director of the Asian American Federation. “After four years of assault under an anti-immigrant administration, we have the opportunity to reimagine how we offer, welcome and support to our immigrant neighbors. As we emerge out of the pandemic with a new Administration that recognizes the importance of immigrants and our contributions, we must rebuild our country by acknowledging the role of immigrants and offering support so that newcomers can succeed in every way they imagine possible. We applaud Reps. Meng's, Jayapal’s, García’s, and Senator Markey’s efforts and look forward to offering our support to President Biden in this important endeavor.” 

"As we shift away from the last administration’s denigration of immigrants and its draconian immigration policies, establishing a National Office of New Americans will be critical," said Diana Konaté, Policy Director at African Communities Together. "The Office would not only serve to recommit the US to being a country that is welcoming, but would also be tangible action towards the integration and inclusion of all immigrants into our society. We applaud Reps. Meng, Jayapal, García, and Senator Markey on the introduction of this legislation and their steadfast support of immigrant communities." 

“For far too long, immigrants have been viewed as a problem that needs to be solved rather than what they truly are – an essential piece of the fabric of our nation,” said Eva Millona, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “Comprehensive immigration reform necessitates not only reversals of the harmful policies from the past four years, but a long-term commitment to build a system that reflects our country’s values of inclusion and justice. The establishment of a National Office for New Americans would do just that by investing in immigrant integration and inclusion. MIRA is proud to be a strong member of the advocacy team in support of this bill, along with our partners at the National Partnership for New Americans, and we extend our deepest appreciation to Senator Ed Markey and Reps. Grace Meng, Pramila Jayapal, and Jesús “Chuy” García  for their leadership and urge Congress to pass this legislation immediately."

“For the past four years, the government made harassing, targeting, banning and removing immigrants a priority. The National Office of New Americans Act will help end that dark era and make welcoming immigrants a priority,” said Muslim Advocates Special Counsel for Anti-Muslim Bigotry Madihha Ahussain. “Thank you, Reps. Meng, Jayapal, García and Sen. Markey for introducing this necessary legislation. Our greatness comes from our diversity and we must do everything we can to restore that legacy. Congress must pass the National Office of New Americans Act and ensure that our nation once again welcomes the ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’”

The National Office of New Americans Act is endorsed by over 100 organizations, including: National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, Make the Road New York, Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), United We Dream, Church World Services (CWS), American Immigration Council, Anti-Defamation League (ADL), African Communities Together (ACT), UnidosUS, Hispanic Federation, Asian American Federation, CASA, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA), National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), Center for Victims of Torture, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, OneAmerica, AsylumWorks, National CAPACD – National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development, Association of New Americans, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Comunidades Unidas, Center for New Americans, We Are All America, African Services Committee, Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice, Arkansas United, Causa Oregon, Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Global Cleveland, Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, Junta for Progressive Action, Latin American Coalition, Maine People's Alliance, Michigan United, Nebraska Appleseed, Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Promise Arizona, Somos Un Pueblo Unido, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, the Resurrection Project, Texas Organizing Project, Voces de la Frontera, Unite Oregon, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, Oxfam America, and NETWORK Lobby

The legislation is a standalone measure from the New Deal for New Americans Act that was introduced in the last Congress.

Original cosponsors to Reps. Meng, Jayapal, and García's House measure include: Reps. Jake Auchincloss (MA), Earl Blumenauer (OR), Jamaal Bowman (NY), Cori Bush (MO), André Carson (IN), Ed Case (HI), Judy Chu (CA), David N. Cicilline (RI), Yvette D. Clarke (NY), Jim Cooper (TN), Jason Crow (CO), Danny K. Davis (IL), Val B. Demings (FL), Mark DeSaulnier (CA), Adriano Espaillat (NY), Dwight Evans (PA), Ruben Gallego (AZ), Sylvia R. Garcia (TX), Jimmy Gomez (CA), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ), Alcee L. Hastings (FL), Steven Horsford (NV), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (GA), Mondaire Jones (NY), Kaialiʻi Kahele (HI), Ro Khanna (CA), Barbara Lee (CA), Ted W. Lieu (CA), Carolyn B. Maloney (NY), Doris Matsui (CA), James P. McGovern (MA), Jerrold Nadler (NY), Grace F. Napolitano (CA), Joe Neguse (CO), Marie Newman (IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Ilhan Omar (MN), Chellie Pingree (ME), Katie Porter (CA), Ayanna Pressley (MA), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Albio Sires (NJ), Adam Smith (WA), Jackie Speier (CA), Eric Swalwell (CA), Mark Takano (CA), Dina Titus (NV), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Ritchie Torres (NY), Norma J. Torres (CA), Lori Trahan (MA), Nydia M. Velázquez (NY),and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ).

Original co-sponsors of the legislation in the Senate include Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

 

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