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29 February 2016

Incubators of Immigrant Integration - It’s so Miami

As a bustling metropolis and cultural hub with a vibrant and diverse population, it is fitting that Miami was host to the third White House Regional Convening on New Americans. The event brought together a wide range of community leaders to learn about local priorities, discuss best practices, and identify opportunities to enhance local multi-sector partnerships to advance the civic, economic and linguistic integration of immigrants.

The enthusiasm of the convening participants was clear, including Miami Dade College and its president, Dr. Eduardo Padrón, who opened the doors of the college to us. It was gratifying to be surrounded by so many individuals with their own inspiring immigration stories, including two 2006 recipients of the Outstanding American by Choice recognition (Dr. Padrón and Gepsie Metellus, Executive Director of the Sant La Haitian Neighborhood Center) and White House Task Force on New Americans colleague Fatima Noor, who shared her own story with convening participants.

At this convening, Miami native and USCIS Director León Rodríguez highlighted what he believes is the foundation of a successful whole-of-society approach to promoting citizenship and civic integration: we are stronger together than we are apart. The first panelists brought this concept to life by showcasing a variety of best practices at the local level. This includes the National Immigration Forum's New American Workforce initiative, of which the City of Miami Beach is a participant; public awareness campaigns including the “Stand Stronger” Citizenship Campaign; and the critical support provided through community-based organizations.

The second panel focused on the critical role that the federal government plays in supporting immigrant integration efforts. Colleagues from the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Small Business Administration (SBA) highlighted available federal resources and initiatives. This includes SBA’s Made it in America campaign, DOL’s efforts to implement the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), educational resources from the Department of Education, and HHS’ Administration for Children and Families’ (ACF) resources and partnership opportunities.

Convening participants closed the day by brainstorming concrete action items to strengthen regional integration efforts and federal-local partnerships, including opportunities to engage youth; facilitate access to services; and enhance targeted, customer-centric approaches to outreach and engagement.
As the Task Force on New Americans moves forward with these regional convenings, it is important to recognize that the immigration journey and journey to citizenship can vary greatly—not just among individuals, but also among broader communities. Dr. Padrón framed it best when he reminded us that “Miami is an incubator for immigrant integration.” Participants left this convening invigorated by the energy of so many leaders committed to the principles of the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign and importance of citizenship to immigrants and the Nation.

For more information on the Task Force, please visit

For more information on the Administration’s Citizenship Awareness efforts, visit and

For a Roadmap guide to learn about ideas and resources to help build welcoming communities, visit



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