Congress Introduces New American Success Act

Bipartisan Bill Would Provide Integration Assistance for the Foreign-Born

June 25, 2014 WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) introduced the New American Success Act, a bill that would create a comprehensive national immigrant integration strategy. Although many states, including Massachusetts, have taken it upon themselves to develop plans to promote the integration of New Americans, this would be the first time that the United States, a nation of immigrants, has developed such a strategy at the national level.

“For far too long, the integration of immigrants to the United States has been left to local communities without any coordination with government agencies,” said Eva A. Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition. “This bill represents an important opportunity to give New Americans the tools they need to succeed in their new home while also strengthening the communities that receive them.”

The New American Success Act would create the Office of New Americans within the White House to coordinate the varied policies of different federal departments including Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development. The Director of this new office would also chair the new Task Force on New Americans, made up of representatives from various agencies, to provide policy recommendations to Congress and the White House. The bill would also establish the Initial Entry, Adjustment, and Citizenship Assistance Grant Program, which would create a competitive grant to assistant public, private, and non-profit entities that assist immigrants in navigating the legal pathway from green card holder to US citizen. Finally, the bill would create Integration Success Grants to help states develop comprehensive plans for linguistic, civic, and economic integration.

A weaker integration provision had been included in the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate on June 27, 2013, but which the House has not acted on. This bill provides for far more comprehensive cooperation between federal agencies, improving efficiency. With immigration reform currently stalled, it is important that Congress act on legislation to create mechanisms and tools that allow immigrants who are already in the country to function and participate fully in their societies and communities, and to build healthy and valued lives for themselves and their families.