Detroit, Macomb County Among First White House Welcoming Communities
The White House capped the fourth annual Welcoming Week and Thursday’s Constitution/Citizenship Day commemorations by unveiling it’s “Stand Stronger” public awareness campaign based on key recommendations from the White House Task Force for New Americans. The announcement included several programs and initiatives that promote the rights, responsibilities, and opportunities of citizenship among eligible legal permanent residents (LPRs), and break down the barriers that LPRs face in naturalizing, as well as the announcement of the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign.
The announcement of the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign, the White House’s partnership with Welcoming America to encourage local communities to engage in local immigrant integration efforts, calls on local communities to act on a set of principles to build inclusive and welcoming communities that allow immigrants to thrive and succeed enhancing the communities at large.
Detroit, Macomb County, Sterling Heights, and Clinton Township were among the first 40 communities acknowledged in yesterday’s launch of the White House’s Building Welcoming Communities campaign. In fact, Michigan had the second largest number of communities on the list and the Rust Belt accounted for 17 of the 40 initial communities.
The number of Michigan and Rust Belt cities embracing immigrants as a means of revitalizing urban neighborhoods and spurring local economic growth continues to grow, positioning the state and the Rust Belt region at the leading edge of the growing movement. As a more welcoming approach to immigration spreads quickly – and pays off for local economies – this new field of practice is picking up steam.
The Stand Stronger campaign launched yesterday included acknowledgements of:
- Cities that are working to expand naturalization outreach and processing programs;
- Presidential Ambassadors for Citizenship and Naturalization;
- Grants supporting citizenship and refugee integration;
- A Welcoming Communities Americorps program;
- Increased access to low-cost legal services for immigrants and refugees; and
- The Building Welcoming Communities campaign
While the benefits of naturalization for immigrants are clear (studies show that naturalized immigrants earn 8-11% more after naturalization, and family incomes rise an average of 15%), the conversation surrounding the benefits to our communities and country is less prevalent. Naturalized citizens also stay in the U.S. longer, have better English language abilities, and have more education. These factors contribute to a higher likelihood of investments in U.S.-specific skills, and better job matching to a wider range of jobs. Naturalized citizens have lower unemployment rates, are half as likely to live below the poverty line, and weathered the recent economic crisis more successfully than noncitizens.
This past June, Global Detroit was able to attend the first Citizenship Ceremony held by the city of Detroit in over thirty years. We watched America get a bit stronger as we welcomed 105 new Americans from 27 countries, and it was a great reminder of how special it is to be a U.S. citizen.
Global Detroit supports increased citizenship for immigrants as an economic development strategy. Earlier this year, Global Detroit launched, in partnership with the Detroit New Americans Campaign, our Citizenship Ambassadors, a network of Michigan volunteers working to promote the benefits of citizenship, and assist candidates in navigating the path to becoming citizens. A detailed guide for Citizenship Ambassadors can be found here. To date our Ambassadors have volunteered over 100 hours to activities that welcome New Americans and assist them through the citizenship process.
Interested in becoming the next Citizenship Ambassador? Click for more information and to sign up.