Fort Wayne, Indiana and Littleton Colorado will serve as testbeds for a National League of Cities (NLC) and Knight Foundation initiative to promote civic engagement and naturalization among immigrant communities.
The Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration (MAII) project is a new NLC project, which hopes to establish a knowledge-sharing network across different cities and organizations for those who seek assistance in addressing immigrant integration challenges.
“These cities’ participation in NLC’s Municipal Action for Immigrant Integration program will enhance the city’s efforts in addressing the immigrant and refugee population,” NLC president and Northglenn, Colo. mayor Kathleen Novak, said in a statement.
The MAII project has two components that focus on the benefits of naturalization, as well as provide city participants with customized levels of assistance and support to help local officials promote civic participation among immigrant groups. The NewCITYzen Naturalization Campaign works to promote voting and similar rights afforded to naturalized immigrants, while the CITYzenship Community Initiative will give technical assistance to cities who already have outreach efforts in place.
According to the NLC, Fort Wayne and Littleton were chose because of each city’s respective need for immigrant services, and their growing numbers of immigrant populations. Fort Wayne has a population of 250,000 residents, 6 percent of which are foreign born, with a significant increase in Burmese refugees. Littleton has a little under 4,000 foreign born residents, 60 percent of whom are not naturalized citizens.
“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,” Ms. Novak said.