The Center for American Progress Action Fund supports prompt passage of the Strengthening Communities through English and Integration Act of 2008, introduced today in Congress. Faced with a lack of comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, too many localities have attempted to address our broken immigration system on their own. Of the 1500 pieces of legislation introduced at the state level related to immigration and integration, most are hostile and few make an attempt to assist new citizens in their adjustment to a new home. With communities around the country experiencing a significant growth in the number of limited English proficient residents, it is past time for the federal government to become more proactive in the integration of our new citizens. Without federal action, we risk an even higher number of ad hoc and hostile legislative efforts across the country. In the process, our communities, our businesses, and all our citizens suffer.
The Strengthening Communities through English and Integration Act of 2008 provides the needed resources to stakeholders in communities to work together to meet individual needs by establishing a new Office of Citizenship and Immigrant Integration at the Department of Homeland Security. The office will promote civics education and English language acquisition for children, adults, both high- and low-skill workers, and involve the business community in the process. The legislation also establishes a national infrastructure to coordinate goals for integration and provide support for states and communities seeking to meet their needs.
“The Strengthening Communities through English and Integration Act of 2008 is essential to our ongoing efforts to reform our broken immigration system and rationalize our integration efforts for new citizens. By providing additional resources for English-language acquisition and civics education, the legislation will meet the growing demand by new citizens and native-born citizens of limited English proficiency to embrace our nation’s culture and values,” said Cassandra Butts, Senior Vice President for Domestic Policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.