On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a bold, new goal: to make Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the world.
Emanuel, who comes from a family of immigrants and has been a vocal supporter of the DREAM Act, is launching the Office of New Americans to expand opportunities for immigrant business owners and entrepreneurs and to improve immigrant access to city services.
“Chicago’s vitality has been built on the strength of immigrant populations that have come to enjoy new freedoms and access new opportunities,” Emanuel said in a statement. “I want to make Chicago the most immigrant-friendly city in the world and the Office of New Americans will ensure every law-abiding Chicagoan has access to the resources they need to become productive members of society and contribute to our thriving global city.”
Emanuel pointed out that one in five new Chicagoans are immigrants, and told NBC Chicago that immigrants are 50 percent more likely to start small businesses.
The Emanuel administration will pay for the new office with money it set aside after slashing administrative costs in the mayor's office.
Some of the office's goals include:
* Establishing a centralized language access policy for the City of Chicago that ensures access to important information about education, public safety, healthcare, and City services.
* Expanding opportunities for immigrant business owners and entrepreneurs.
* Enhancing coordination between City government and community organizations to increase access to existing city, state and federal programs.
* Expanding immigrant parent engagement throughout the Chicago Public School system by building on successful models such as the Logan Square Neighborhood Associations’ Parent-Mentor program.
* Expanding English language educational resources and opportunities in community settings.
* Supporting the launch of the Illinois DREAM Act to ensure Chicago’s students have access to funds to attend college.
* Promoting U.S. citizenship by working with community organizations and federal agencies that provide immigration and citizenship services.
WATCH Emanuel discuss the new office here:
View more videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com.