Reps. Meng, Jayapal and García, Joined by Immigration Advocacy Organizations, Unveil Sweeping Legislation to Strengthen Support for Immigrants and Refugees

Oct 30, 2019
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL), introduced bold legislation that would ensure a more inclusive and welcoming system to help new Americans achieve their American Dream.
The “New Deal for New Americans Act” would establish critical assistance programs for immigrants and refugees to overcome common challenges such as language barriers and employment attainment, and help in breaking down barriers to naturalization. The measure consists of numerous provisions to accomplish these goals and they would do the following:
  • Establish a National Office of New Americans in the Executive Office of the White House to promote and support immigrant and refugee integration and inclusion and coordinate efforts of federal, state, and local governments to support social, economic, and civic integration of immigrants and refugees.
  • Establish a Federal Initiative on New Americans to coordinate a federal response to address issues that affect the lives of new immigrants and refugees, and communities with growing immigrant and refugee populations.
  • Create a Legal Services and Immigration Assistance Grant Program to support organizations that provide direct immigration assistance to those in need of immigration screening; know-your-rights education; assistance in applying for citizenship, lawful permanent resident status or other legal status (DACA, TPS, asylum, etc.); or seeking relief from a removal order.
  • Create an English as a Gateway to Integration Program for organizations that teach English or help individuals prepare for naturalization or earn a GED.
  • Create a Workforce Development Grant Program to ensure that immigrant and refugee adults have equitable access to education and workforce programs that help equip them with occupational skills needed to secure or advance in employment.
  • Reduce barriers for individuals to naturalize by establishing a flat application fee for naturalization, amending the English and civics exam requirements for older individuals, and exempting eligible U.S. high school graduates from taking the naturalization exams.
  • Limit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) ability to raise fees without Congress’ approval, plus require authorization of appropriations to cover USCIS’ need to operate and adjudicate cases.
  • Promote civic engagement through automatic voter registration of newly naturalized individuals.
  • Expand family integration by reducing the age of citizens who are able to petition eligible family members from 21 years old to 18 years old.
  • Increase Refugee Admissions level to 110,000 per fiscal year.
  • Provide social, economic, and civic support to refugees and rebuild the capacity and infrastructure of local communities to welcome refugees.
  • Amend the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to no longer allow deportation of an individual deemed to have become a public charge.
“The U.S. has always been a nation of immigrants, and as the daughter of immigrants and a Representative from Queens – the most diverse place in the nation with immigrants from across the globe calling the borough home – I will never back down from fighting for our immigrant communities,” said Congresswoman Meng. “The New Deal for New Americans Act is a bold and sweeping effort to strengthen support for immigrants and refugees. It will break down barriers to help them succeed, and pave the way for their hopes and dreams to come true. Immigrants and refugees have always been America’s strength, and improving our system to welcome new Americans will ensure that our nation continues to thrive. I will always stand with the hardworking immigrants of this nation and I urge all my colleagues to do the same, and support this critical bill. I am proud to partner with Reps. Jayapal and García in introducing this legislation, and I look forward to it moving through the House.”     
“As a naturalized U.S. citizen and a longtime immigrant rights advocate and activist, I am proud to introduce the New Deal for New Americans Act,” said Congresswoman Jayapal. “This bill not only counters the cruel and hateful policies of the Trump Administration, but also ensures we are welcoming immigrants, refugees and new Americans. By providing valuable skills and tools to help our newest Americans integrate in their communities, we can empower them to fully and freely contribute to the richness of the United States.”
“I was born in Mexico and now I represent my Chicago community in the U.S. Congress,” said Congressman García. “When my family and I arrived in the U.S. in 1965, we were welcomed into a community and network of services that enabled us to become U.S. citizens. The New Deal for New Americans Act upholds our commitment and values as a nation that welcomes immigrants. While the Trump Administration continues to attack us, we are building the systems to help immigrants succeed because it’s the right thing to do. It’s time to tear down the ‘Second Wall’ of roadblocks to citizenship created by the current administration and build a humane immigration system for all.”
“It's time for a new vision for America—one that fulfills Lady Liberty's promise, honors our values as a diverse and welcoming nation, and engenders solutions that allow new Americans to truly belong, fully contribute and achieve the American Dream,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA) Board Co-Chair. “Today, we're pleased to stand with our local Congresswoman Grace Meng and other Members of Congress to introduce a bill that offers exactly that opportunity—the ‘New Deal for New Americans Act.’ We call on each and every Member of Congress to support this bill and work to pass it into law.”
“In contrast to the administration’s fear-mongering and extreme policies that hurt immigrant and refugee communities, NPNA, its members and policy allies have been working to ensure that the aspirational vision and humane solutions of a welcoming and inclusive society are realized,” said Eva Millona, Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) and NPNA Board Co-Chair. “The introduction of the New Deal for New Americans Act, introduced on the heels of NPNA’s successful National Immigrant Integration Conference (NIIC), is a significant and vital step forward in this important work.”
“The senseless cruelty of today’s myopic immigration policies are a total waste of resources and human potential,” said Gustavo Torres, Executive Director of CASA and NPNA Board Member. “Economists everywhere have proven again and again that immigrants and refugees contribute more to our nation than they take. When this bill becomes law, it will help unify us, make us stronger and supercharge New Americans’ investment in our nation.”
“There are nearly 71 million displaced people in the world today, which makes the U.S. refugee admissions cuts unconscionable,” said Basma Alawee, Refugee Organizer at the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), an NPNA member organization. Each day, 34,000 people leave everything behind in the hope of finding safety and a better tomorrow. I am one of them and I am proud to support the New Deal for New Americans Act which opens the doors to those seeking safety and freedom in the U.S.”
“Full belonging and participation in our democracy is vital to the national welfare and requires more than a naturalization certificate,” said Susan Collins, NPNA’s Director of Policy and Advocacy. “We cannot allow the grit, drive, skills, and contributions of immigrants and refugees—who with their children make up more than 1 in 4 of us in the U.S.—to languish. The policies our national leaders pursue will impact our diverse communities for years to come. That’s why we need this bill now so that immigrants and refugees have skin in the game and a voice and vote in what affects them. Our shared future is at stake.”
"Every day in my work, I see the barriers to integration disappear when aspiring Americans are welcomed and have the tools they need to belong, contribute and feel at home," said Alain Nahimana, Executive Director of The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center and NPNA member. "That's why this bill holds so much promise. Imagine how much more our communities could achieve if the current obstacles to U.S. citizenship, civic engagement, learning English and job opportunities were eliminated. New Americans' contributions to the United States would have no limit. Congress needs to pass this bill for the good of our country."
The New Deal for New Americans Act has been endorsed by the following organizations and individuals:
  • National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA)
  • Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice
  • Arkansas United
  • CASA
  • Causa
    Center for Popular Democracy
  • Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights
  • Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition
  • Comunidades Unidas
  • Florida Immigrant Rights Coalition
  • Global Cleveland
  • Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center
  • Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama
  • Junta for Progressive Action
  • Latin American Coalition
  • Maine People’s Alliance
  • Make the Road
  • Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
  • Michigan United
  • National Korean American Service & Education Consortium
  • Nebraska Appleseed
  • New York Immigration Coalition
  • OneAmerica
    Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition
  • Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada
  • Promise Arizona
  • Somos Un Pueblo Unido
  • Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition
  • The Resurrection Project
  • Voces de la Frontera
  • Community Change
  • Consejo de Federaciones Mexicianas
  • Colorado People’s Alliance
  • El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos
  • Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights
  • Idaho Community Action Network
  • Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
  • Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
  • Montana Organizing Project
  • Movement of Immigrants in America
  • New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrant Rights
  • People’s Action
  • Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste
  • Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network
  • Sunflower Community Action
  • Unite Oregon
  • WashingtonCan!
    Workers Defense Project
  • We Are All America
  • Treetops Collective
  • Global Detroit
  • Rural Women's Health Project
  • Mobile Pathways
  • River City Federal Credit Union
  • Justice for Our Neighbors - Michigan
  • Academy of Medical & Public Health Services
  • Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese
  • Healthy Illinois Campaign
  • Crossways Consulting
  • Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, City of Albuquerque
  • The Legal Clinic (Justice for Our Neighbors Hawaii)
  • Campaign-Urbana Public Health District
  • Homies Unidos
  • International Council for Refugees and Immigrants
  • Mayor Sylvester Turner, Houston, Texas
  • Mayor’s Office, Denver, Colorado
  • UnidosUS
    Mayor Jenny A. Durkan, Seattle, Washington     
  • Mayor Jacob Frey, Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Mayor Eric Garcetti,
  • Mayor Tim Keller, City of Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Madeline Rogero, Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Immigration Hub
  • Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance
  • United Farm Workers Foundation
  • Kentucky Refugee Ministries
  • NETWORK Lobby
  • Fair Immigration Reform Movement
  • Farmworker Justice
  • Commissioner Pete Gerken, Lucas County, Ohio
  • James F. Kenney, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Mayor Robert Garcia, Long Beach, California
  • Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, Chicago, Illinois
  • Mayor Melvin Carter, City of Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Commissioner Tina Wozniak, Lucas County, Ohio          
  • Church World Service
  • SPLC Action Fund
    The Next100
  • Pious Ali, City Councilor At-Large, Portland, Maine
  • Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO)
  • America's Voice
  • Mi Familia Vota
  • International Rescue Committee
  • World Education Services
  • New American Leaders
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
  • HIAS Pennsylvania