The federal government is relaunching the Task Force on New Americans to integrate immigrants and refugees into the United States.
The task force launched and lapsed under a number of presidents since the mid-2000s.
President Joe Biden tasked the White House Domestic Policy Council with reconvening the task force, which had lapsed under President Donald Trump, in a Feb. 2 Executive Order. The DPC is responsible for coordinating “the Federal Government’s efforts to welcome and support immigrants, including refugees, and to catalyze State and local integration and inclusion efforts.”
“New Americans and their children fuel our economy, working in every industry, including healthcare, construction, caregiving, manufacturing, service, and agriculture,” wrote Biden. “Our Nation is enriched socially and economically by the presence of immigrants…The Federal Government should develop welcoming strategies that promote integration, inclusion, and citizenship, and it should embrace the full participation of the newest Americans in our democracy.”
Biden’s iteration of the task force will focus on supporting workforce training and assisting with access to educational, financial, and healthcare services.
Under President Barack Obama, the task force led a number of initiatives including connecting immigrants with adult education, promoting immigrant entrepreneurship, and launching a citizenship campaign to increase awareness of the “rights, responsibilities, and importance” of United States citizenship.
“Immigrants and refugees have always been a source of our Nation’s strength. By extending a welcoming hand, the United States has continually tapped new sources of economic and cultural vitality,” wrote Cecilia Muñoz, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and León Rodríguez, the director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in a one-year progress report. “The integration plan you tasked us with developing is a more focused, deliberate approach to the federal government’s efforts to integrate new Americans.”
Mike Gonzales, a fellow at The Heritage Foundation, noted that the Obama administration’s strategic plan for the task force did not include the word “assimilation,” “patriotism,” or “Americanization.”
Gonzales wrote in May of 2015:
What it seems to have plenty of is how communities must be the ones to change so they can celebrate immigrants’ ‘diverse linguistic and cultural assets’; how governing institutions must sanction ‘diverse cultural practices’; how becoming a citizen should be streamlined; and how we must have ‘bi-literacy and dual-language learning’ so as ‘to maintain native-language proficiency to preserve culture.’
Biden has backed a number of pro-immigration policies while in office. He raised the national annual cap on refugees to 125,000, which had been set to 62,500 during the Trump administration.
“That number excludes the roughly 180,000 Ukrainians and Afghans who came to the United States through a different path that moves more quickly than the traditional refugee program but only allows for stays of up to two years,” reports AP News.
Biden pledged to make the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program permanent and to increase accessibility to permanent and temporary work visas.
Additionally, Biden called for a moratorium on all deportations during his first 100 days of office.