Immigrant integration is central to MIRA’s mission and our advocacy at the federal, state and local levels. Since 2011, the New Americans Integration Institute has served as a hub for this work, providing policy research, program engagement, and administrative advocacy. Launched with a grant from The Boston Foundation, the Institute operates at the center of a diverse network of state, local and national organizations seeking to expand integration opportunities for immigrants and refugees in Massachusetts. Its Advisory Board includes representatives of state and local government, nonprofits, academia and philanthropy.
The Institute builds coalitions and develops programs to support the three components of immigrant and refugee integration. The Institute Director also plays a central role in fostering a cohesive strategy among MIRA’s advocacy, organizing and communications teams.
New Americans Integration Institute key focus areas
Economic integration initiatives
Workforce development is a key aspect of the Institute’s economic integration work. We support foreign-born workers at all skill levels, helping them obtain professional credentials and licenses; advance their skills through education and English language instruction; and obtain U.S. citizenship. The Institute is currently supporting legislation to create a commission to explore creating a credential process for foreign-trained health professionals who could provide urgently needed medical services in underserved communities throughout Massachusetts.
Civic integration initiatives
Since 2013, more than 1,400 Massachusetts residents have become U.S. citizens as a result of MIRA’s application assistance programs. MIRA’s voter registration outreach created 10,000 newly registered immigrant voters prior to the 2016 elections. In addition, Get Out the Vote drive boosted turnout from New American voters by 10%, three times the typical increase from such efforts.
Social integration initiatives
We have built statewide coalitions of practitioners, stakeholders, and experts on K-12 education for immigrant children and the U.S.-born children of immigrants. Through this coalition, the Institute provides trainings to refugee resettlement agencies and childcare providers on improving access to childcare and early childhood education for refugee children. The Institute is also developing a strategy to monitor the impact of the state Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan on children from immigrant and refugee families. Finally, hundreds of adult immigrants and refugees receive English language instruction every year through the New Americans Integration Program.
New American Integration Program AmeriCorps
The New American Integration Program, established in 2011, places up to 30 AmeriCorps members yearly in immigrant-serving organizations across Massachusetts to provide English language instruction, citizenship and job training services. Given the enormous unmet need for these services, the NAIP AmeriCorps program is playing a crucial role in building nonprofits’ capacity to serve immigrants and refugees.
All these programs are part of a nationwide move to reshape thinking and action in communities and the country as a whole to value the foreign-born as one of our greatest assets. MIRA joins in this effort with fellow members of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), which since 2008 has sponsored the National Immigrant Integration Conference. MIRA Executive Director Eva Millona serves as the NPNA co-chair. Now with 37 members in 31 states, NPNA has become a leading national voice for advancing immigrant rights and opportunities. NPNA has developed a comprehensive policy agenda, the New American Dreams Platform.