Government and Politics
March 21, 2023
Washington (March 21, 2023) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Grace Meng (NY-06) today reintroduced the New Deal for New Americans Act, legislation to promote the inclusion of immigrants and refugees in the United States. The New Deal for New Americans Act would help immigrants and refugees overcome common challenges, such as language barriers and employment attainment, and help break down obstacles to naturalization. The bill would also strengthen coordination between federal, state, and local governments to support the social, economic, and civic integration of immigrants and refugees. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) is a cosponsor.
“Immigrants and refugees deserve the opportunity to fully thrive in the United States, not just survive,” said Senator Markey. “I am proud to reintroduce this visionary roadmap for an immigration system that isn’t only centered on enforcement and penalties, but instead prioritizes support for refugees and migrants as they navigate their new homeland and participate in the social, economic, and civic life of their communities.”
“The United States is a great nation because of its rich and diverse immigrant communities. When we invest in helping new Americans thrive and integrate into our country we are investing in our future generations,” said Representative Meng. “We must fight to protect the principles our nation was founded on and ensure our immigration system is an inclusive and a welcoming safe haven for all who come here. I am proud to once again champion the New Deal for New Americans Act on behalf of the countless people who wish to join, contribute and succeed in the U.S. as New Americans.”
Specifically, the New Deal for New Americans Act would:
Establish a National Office of New Americans within the White House to promote and support immigrant and refugee inclusion and coordinate efforts of federal, state, and local governments to support social, economic, and civic inclusion;
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;
Protect fee waivers and expand reduced fee applications for immigration benefits;
Establish Grant Programs for community-based organizations and other entities that offer legal services for those applying for immigration relief; English classes; and workforce development training;
Limit U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) ability to raise fees without Congressional approval.
Appropriate sufficient funds for USCIS operations, such as adjudication of refugee and asylum processing;
Promote civic engagement through automatic voter registration of newly naturalized individuals;
Increase the Refugee Admissions level to 125,000 per fiscal year.
The New Deal for New Americans Act is endorsed by National Partnership for New Americans; Nebraska Appleseed; Comunidades Unidas; Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition; Immigrant Legal Resource Center; One Refugee; The Welcoming Center; Refugee Congress; Asian Community Development Council; One APIA Nevada; Bend the Arc: Jewish Action; Church World Service; World Education Services; The Advocates for Human Rights; OneAmerica; Global Detroit; Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada; UnidosUS; Restore Education; Champaign-Urbana Public Health District; Value our Families; Upwardly Global; Justice in Motion; Service Employees International Union (SEIU); The IMPRINT; Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative; American Federation of Teachers; ProsperityME; and Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy (MIRA) Coalition.
“I want to thank Senator Markey and Congresswoman Meng for their leadership on this transformative legislation for immigration inclusion,” said Nicole Melaku, Executive Director of the National Partnership for New Americans. “Our diversity is our strength, and this bill will transform how the federal government treats immigrant communities by investing in them instead of attacking them. We urge lawmakers to support this critical piece of legislation, which will help immigrants overcome common challenges such as language barriers, lack of legal services, and the price of immigration application fees, and build a lasting, national welcoming infrastructure.”
In February, Senator Markey called on the Department of Homeland Security to stop using its CBP One App, which continues to have glitches and raises privacy concerns for asylum seekers. In January, Senator Markey sent a letter to the Biden Administration concerning vigilante groups—who sometimes collaborate with or receive approval from local, state, federal law enforcement agencies—patrolling the Southern Border while intimidating, harassing, and detaining immigrants. Last September, Senator Markey led Massachusetts colleagues in urging the Department of Treasury to investigative Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for misuse of federal pandemic relief funds from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund through the American Rescue Plan to relocate vulnerable immigrants from Florida to other states across the U.S.