Center for American Progress

Idea of the Day:A National-Level Commitment to Better Coordinate Local and State-Level Integration Efforts
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Idea of the Day:A National-Level Commitment to Better Coordinate Local and State-Level Integration Efforts

The president, Congress, and other federal agencies should do more to publicly promote the cause of integration, through increased civic education, volunteerism, and federal hiring practices. One way to signal this commitment would be through the establishment of a National Office of Integration in the White House, in addition to or as an expansion of the mandate of the existing Department of Homeland Security Office of Citizenship.

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The president, Congress, and other federal agencies should do more to publicly promote the cause of integration, through increased civic education, volunteerism, and federal hiring practices. One way to signal this commitment would be through the establishment of a National Office of Integration in the White House, in addition to or as an expansion of the mandate of the existing Department of Homeland Security Office of Citizenship.

Integration at its heart remains a process that occurs on the local level, but this federal-level body could serve a coordinating and resource-sharing role between the Department of Homeland Security, which holds primary responsibility for the immigration and naturalization process; the Department of Justice, with its extensive civil rights and antidiscrimination mandates; the Department of Education, with its role in improving English language proficiency for non-native speakers; the Department of Housing and Urban Development, responsible for fair housing; government at the state and local level; and private sector groups. The United States should closely review the difficulty Europe is having in getting the Common Basic Principles established at the European Commission level to trickle down into individual member states in conjunction with any moves to federalize U.S. integration efforts.

The office could also undertake activities similar to that of the European Union Agency of Fundamental Rights, or FRA. The FRA provides assistance to the European Union on issues of fundamental rights while simultaneously working to increase awareness of discrimination, racism, and xenophobia within the E.U. population through various research projects. With the help of a policy monitoring tool similar to the European Commission’s Migrant Integration Policy Index, or MIPEX, the office could oversee integration practices of individual states.

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