WASHINGTON, D.C., October 30, 2019 – Today MIRA Executive Director Eva A. Millona joined legislators and advocates on Capitol Hill to unveil the New Deal for New Americans Act, which was introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Grace Meng (NY), Jesús “Chuy” García (IL) and Pramila Jayapal.
The bill, which has the strong support of MIRA and the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), which Millona co-chairs, lays out a vision for more welcoming and inclusive nation that rejects hate, fear and division and instead aims to ensure that all people can feel at home and truly thrive here.
Under the proposal, the federal government will invest in strategies that have proven successful in integrating immigrants and refugees in our communities, enabling them to realize their economic potential and fully participate in civic life, to the benefit of the whole country.
The New Deal for New Americans Act accomplishes this by reducing barriers to naturalization and providing more support for eligible residents to become U.S. citizens; investing in high-quality English classes that meet the needs of immigrant communities; ensuring that immigrants can get the training they need to fill the jobs that are driving our economy; and supporting cities and states with the resources they need to resettle refugees.
“I am proud to support this visionary bill, which reflects the values that we cherish in Massachusetts and all across America,” Millona said. “Some have tried to pit us against one another, but we know that our strongest, most vibrant communities are those that embrace their diversity and enable everyone to thrive – whether they were born there, or came from thousands of miles away.”
The bill draws on key elements of NPNA’s New American Dreams Platform, a broad and ambitious framework that looks beyond the immigration policy battles being waged today to envision what a truly welcoming, inclusive and equitable America would look like. The platform includes provisions on citizenship, education, health, refugee resettlement, access to justice and economic inclusion. Just days ago in Detroit, some 1,400 advocates, civic leaders and experts, including several MIRA staff, gathered at the National Immigrant Integration Conference to discuss how to turn that vision into reality.
Millona was one of five leaders of major immigrant advocacy organizations to speak at today’s press conference. She focused on the economic benefits of the bill, which would meet critical needs in Massachusetts and across the country.
Nationwide, for example, English classes for adults serve just over 700,000 people a year, or less than 4% of the 23 million who need them. In Massachusetts, about 542,000 adults over 18 – roughly 1 in 10 – can’t speak English very well, and there is a waitlist of over 17,000 for available classes. Existing programs are also limited in their scope, teaching basic language skills but often leaving immigrants without the tools they need to keep learning on their own and fully participate in society.
“One of the greatest strengths of this bill is that it recognizes that immigrants and refugees are enormous economic assets to the U.S. – and it aims to make the most of their potential,” Millona said. “28% of working-age adults in the U.S. are immigrants or children of immigrants, up from 22% in 2010 – and in many states, including Massachusetts, the share is already greater.”
“As the native-born population ages, immigrant workers will be increasingly crucial to our economy,” Millona added. “By enabling foreign-born people to fully realize their economic potential by mastering English and boosting their job skills, this bill would benefit the entire nation. Immigrants make huge contributions to the U.S. We deserve true equality and shared prosperity.”