Fort Wayne first Indiana city selected for Immigrant Integration Program

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Press release from the City:

Fort Wayne first Indiana city selected for Immigrant Integration Program
National League of Cities’ pilot project will work with local government, agencies for civic engagement, citizenship

Joining officials from the National League of Cities and local agencies serving immigrants and refugees, Mayor Tom Henry announced today Fort Wayne is one of three cities nationwide selected to participate in the league’s pilot program to engage and integrate immigrants into the community and civic life.

Fort Wayne will participate in the Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration program for 2009. It will focus on City government, non-profit agencies serving immigrant and refugee populations and immigrants themselves to emphasize civic engagement, working toward American citizenship and participation in the 2010 census.

“Fort Wayne cannot afford to have an ‘us and them’ mentality on this issue. Our city, as well as our entire country, has a rich history of immigration. As I have experienced repeatedly, we all gain when we work together and this program capitalizes on bringing groups together to achieve a greater goal,” Mayor Henry said. “We all have a responsibility, including immigrants and refugees themselves, to integrate some of Fort Wayne’s newest residents into our collective civic life. We will all benefit when their heritage, culture and experiences become part of the fabric of Fort Wayne.”

The National League of Cities selected Fort Wayne because of its nationally recognized efforts from Mayor Henry and City government, local agencies and state and federal government working together to address Fort Wayne’s growing international population, many of whom are political refugees. Last year the same groups collaborated to open the Community Resource Center for Refugees, 2826 S. Calhoun St., in September.

“Fort Wayne’s participation in NLC’s Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration program will enhance the city’s efforts in addressing the immigrant and refugee population,” said Kathleen Novak, president, National League of Cities, mayor, Northglenn, Colo. “It is our hope that, by connecting local officials and community-based organizations, cities can manage the social and economic implications of growing immigrant populations.”

The Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration program focuses on promoting civic engagement and naturalization among immigrant communities in U.S. cities. It will establish a knowledge-sharing network among cities and organizations. MAII aims to be a resource for municipal officials and community-based organizations who seek assistance in addressing immigrant integration challenges.

The two primary components of the program are:

  • The CITYzenship community initiative will help city officials strengthen working relationships with immigrant communities and organizations. Participants will work toward an action plan to manage immigrant integration challenges in Fort Wayne. The Municipal Action for Immigrant project will provide city participants with customized levels of assistance and support to help local officials promote civic participation and naturalization.
  • The NewCITYzen naturalization campaign will focus on highlighting the many benefits of citizenship. Fort Wayne can to use the program’s campaign toolkit to launch a naturalization campaigns locally.

Hispanic and immigrant liaison Palermo Galindo and other City staff will work closely with NLC staff and local agencies to design a customized program specifically for immigrants in Fort Wayne. The partnership will last a minimum of six months and could be extended as the groups further define short-term and long-term goals. The program comes at no cost to the City or participating agencies and individuals.

The other cities participating in 2009 are Littleton, Colo., and another city yet to be announced.

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