Photo Courtesy of Rep. Meng
“When we invest in helping new Americans thrive and integrate into our country we are investing in our future generations,” Rep. Meng said.
By Forum Staff
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) on Tuesday announced the reintroduction of the New Deal for New Americans Act, a bill to promote the inclusion of new immigrants and refugees in the United States.
The legislation would establish new programs to assist immigrants and refugees overcome common challenges such as language barriers, obtaining employment and helping to break down obstacles to naturalization. The measure would also strengthen coordination between federal, state and local governments to support the social, economic and civic integration of immigrants and refugees.
Specifically, the New Deal for New Americans Act would:
- Establish a National Office of New Americans in the Executive Office of the White House to promote and support immigrant and refugee integration and inclusion and coordinate efforts of federal, state and local governments to support social, economic and civic integration of immigrants and refugees.
- Establish a Federal Initiative on New Americans to coordinate a federal response to address issues that affect the lives of new immigrants and refugees, as well as communities with growing immigrant and refugee populations.
- Create a Legal Services and Immigration Assistance Grant Program to support organizations that provide direct immigration assistance to those in need of immigration screening; know-your-rights education; assistance in applying for citizenship, lawful permanent resident status or other legal status (DACA, TPS, asylum, etc.); or seeking relief from a removal order.
- Create an English as a Gateway to Integration Program for organizations that teach English or help individuals prepare for naturalization or earn a GED.
- Create a Workforce Development Grant Program to ensure that immigrant and refugee adults have equitable access to education and workforce programs that help equip them with occupational skills needed to secure or advance in employment.
- Increase authorization of appropriations for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) Citizenship and Integration Grant Program to $100 million.
- Reduce barriers for individuals to naturalize by establishing a flat application fee for naturalization, amending the English and civics exam requirements for older individuals, and exempting eligible U.S. high school graduates from taking the naturalization exams.
- Limit USCIS’ ability to raise fees without Congress’ approval, plus require authorization of appropriations to cover USCIS’ need to operate and adjudicate cases.
- Promote civic engagement through automatic voter registration of newly naturalized individuals.
- Expand family integration by reducing the age of citizens who are able to petition eligible family members from 21 years old to 18 years old.
- Increase Refugee Admissions level to 125,000 per fiscal year.
- Provide social, economic and civic support to refugees and rebuild the capacity and infrastructure of local communities to welcome refugees.
- Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to no longer allow deportation of an individual deemed to have become a public charge.
“The United States is a great nation because of its rich and diverse immigrant communities. When we invest in helping new Americans thrive and integrate into our country we are investing in our future generations,” Meng said. “We must fight to protect the principles our nation was founded on and ensure our immigration system is an inclusive and a welcoming safe haven for all who come here.”