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Office Will Help Immigrants Access City Services, Implement Welcoming City Plan

Mayor Sylvester Turner announced the creation of the Office of New Americans to improve access to City services for all Houstonians. The office, formerly known as the Office of International Communities, will serve as a clearinghouse for information and engagement with Houston’s thriving immigrant community and work with a task force of stakeholders to develop the City’s Welcoming Houston program. The task force will submit its assessment of service needs and gaps and recommendations for enhanced coordination between the city and community organizations early next year.

“Many members of our community are living in fear and asking whether they will continue to have a place in our great city,” said Mayor Turner. “I want all of our residents, including immigrants and refugees, and people of all faiths, to feel safe and protected. The Houston that existed before the November election is the Houston that still exists today. We will not tolerate violence or criminal activity against anyone. Houston is going to remain a city where all are welcome, where neighbors look out for one another and where we are proud of our diversity.”

Last week, Mayor Turner joined other mayors from across the nation in urging President-Elect Trump to continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program until Congress provides permanent relief. “It is essential that we do everything to protect these kids from being deported from the United States,” said Turner. The DACA program helps ensure that qualifying undocumented youth can seek higher education and work and engage in military service without fear of deportation. Nearly 742,000 youth have participated in DACA since the program began in 2012. The program applies to youth who were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012, and came to the U.S. before reaching their 16th birthday. These young people have lived in the US continuously for five years and are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.

The creation of the Office of New Americans and the Welcoming Houston Task Force are the latest in a series of steps Mayor Turner has initiated to make Houston a more welcoming city. Welcome signs in different languages have been posted in city buildings, at the airports and at the convention center and there’s a new website with a list of resources people can use to access assistance or report hate crimes.

For more information visit the Office of New Americans.