While some fear that demographic shifts threaten American identity, yet another piece of research has come out showing that today’s immigrants want to and are integrating into American society just like generations of immigrants before them.
After more than two years of collaboration and initiatives among 20 federal agencies and a variety of stakeholders, the Task Force on New Americans delivered a report this past Monday. The Task Force was assembled in 2006 with a call to “strengthen the efforts of the Department of Homeland Security and federal, state, and local agencies to help legal immigrants embrace the common core of American civic culture, learn our common language, and fully become Americans.” The Task Force’s recommendations are based in the belief that immigrants can and do integrate into U.S. society and that integration is also a federal responsibility.
The Task Force made the following ten recommendations:
1. An Americanization movement for the twenty-first century;
2. Viewing integration as a two-way street;
3. Improved legislation on integration and citizenship;
4. Federal celebration of citizenship;
5. Federal leadership on integration;
6. Enhanced e-learning tools for adults;
7. Encouraging the private sector to promote integration;
8. Mobilizing the volunteer community;
9. Increasing integration stakeholders; and
10. Broadened analysis and evaluation of integration.
Some, however, are criticizing the report’s preoccupation with the “threat” of immigrant enclaves in the absence of such integration policies. Elsa Valdez, a sociology professor at Cal State San Bernardino, says,
“The only reason you have enclaves or segregated communities is we haven’t done a very good job integrating the different immigrant groups economically and socially in terms of jobs, health care and education.”
Most immigrants want to be citizens and active members in their communities. Unfortunately, those immigrants who apply for naturalization are forced to wait for long periods of time before their applications are processed and they are sworn in as U.S. citizens-a detail that the Task Force’s report failed to adequately address.
Supporters, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, include William Ramos, who heads the Washington office of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. Ramos “praised the report for involving the entire community in the integration process and said it provides a good blueprint for the incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama.”
Ultimately, integration policies are only one component of the necessary comprehensive, fair, and workable solutions to our immigration system and economic situation that bring honest and hardworking immigrants out of the shadows and provide them with the opportunity to become fully integrated and productive members of our society.
FILED UNDER: Department of Homeland Security