Immigration and Federal Depository Libraries
Alfonso Aguilar, Chief, Office of Citizenship, Homeland Security
Focusing on the specialized information and services provided to immigrants by the Office of Citizenship, the presenter will also discuss the Presidentâ€™s Task Force on New Americans, whose goal is to coordinate Federal resources to promote the integration of legal immigrants. Under the auspices of the Task Force, the Office of Citizenship plans to offer a Citizenship and Civics toolkit for immigrants to libraries nationwide, including the Federal Depository Libraries.
Explain the debate on immigration of the day. Numbers
Why is this important now?
- U.S. is facing record levels of legal migration
- 1 in 9 U.S. residents are foreign-born
- 3.84 million new LPRs from 2002 to 2005
- 2.18 million new citizens naturalized, from 2002-2005
- Over 80 percent of immigrants from outside of Europe
- Top 5 birth countries of new American citizens, 2005: Mexico, Philippines, India, Vietnam, China, Africa, Asia, South America
Immigrants increasingly settle in â€œNew Gatewaysâ€, i.e. North Carolina, Nevada, Georgia. In the 90s, New York, Houston, LA. Some states havenâ€™t seen a wave of immigration. So that is a great challenge. Proportionately, it isnâ€™t as large as the 20th century, but still very impressive. Challenge of undocumented immigrants. 9/11 also created a problem, how can we be an open welcoming nation with 9/11. The immigration situation is broken and needs to be fixed. We need security and border control, but we also need a guest worker program. Our native born work force is shrinking.
Bush asks how are we to assimilate immigrants into our country. If we have an open legal immigration policy, what are we doing to help them become part of the American community. Bush is the first President to talk about immigration as part of his policy and legacy.
Our national identity is based on ideals rather than religious or ethnic issues. We need a common set of values so we can preserve our common national identity.
Most people believe that immigration assimilation and integration patterns arenâ€™t handled, we will have social issues to deal with in 20 years or so.
1924 to 1965 we didnâ€™t have immigrants within the American culture because there was a moratorium. Since 1965 we have had a comprehensive immigration reform program, with legal immigration. We need to strengthen out program. We will have a nation of minorities in a few decades. But it is also a challenge. If your nation is composed of diverse peoples, having different cultures, it becomes a real challenge to bring them in to the culture. Look at France from this past summer. And the U.K. where some of the terrorists felt they were not part of that community or the murder of Nederlandâ€™s photographer who produced a movie on Islam.
You cannot have political and social cohesion if people donâ€™t share values in a country. Perhaps (in France) the multinational plan doesnâ€™t work. In U.S. we have built our nation on civic ideals. But we may have similar problems like Europe is having now.
Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were champions of this idea. Even libraries were part of the assimilation movement in the 20th century. We want to make sure they do assimilate. You can respect your heritage but still be part of the American culture.
The office was created by the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Office of Citizenship. Mandate to help immigrants to use the resources to help them assimilate.
- Promotes instruction and training on citizenship rights and responsibilities, and
- provides immigrants with information and tools necessary to successfully integrate into American civic culture
Products and Publications
Promoting Civic Literacy in the Community
Through the development of educational materials for permanent residents to sue as study tools and educators to use in the classroom, the Office of Citizenship is assisting the immigrant community learn more about American History and Government.
The community we are targeting are the permanent residents, those who are making America their home. How to settle in the U.S., learn English, etc. the guides are in 10 different languages because they are just beginning the process of assimilation.
We are developing a citizenship questions and answers to pass the citizenship test. In 2008 we are developing a standard class on citizenship and our national identity. This is just a beginning in terms of the work. The President signed the:
Task Force on New Americans is looking at different initiatives.
- Established by Executive Order. Essential component of the Presidentâ€™s comprehensive immigration reform proposal.
- Develop educational initiatives to help legal immigrants embrace the common core of American civic culture, learn English, and fully become American
- Prevent marginalization of the foreign-born â€“ which can lead to social problems, radicalization â€“ via successful integration
New Americans Library Initiative
- Description: Expand access to citizenship and civics materials and educational programming at public libraries
- Distribute a toolkit with citizenship and civic publications to libraries nationwide, they also have English/ Spanish software and English classes
- Partner with GPO, Institute of Museum and Library Services (MLS), and state libraries
- Use libraries as venues to deliver Civic Orientation sessions developed with National Constitution Center. The federal assistants are willing to go to libraries to promote assimilation to immigrants. Many college libraries have developed programs with the community in mind to help them assimilate.
- Develop educational products with other federal agencies
POC: Carlos MuÃ±oz, 202-272-1304, Carlos.firstname.lastname@example.org“>Carlos.email@example.com
This is the basic concept we have developed and want to share with you. It would be interesting to partner with the depository libraries. Issue of funding. As we develop this effort, we will hold round tables and see how we can leverage funding for the program. Grants to libraries and the private sector. In general that is what I have to share with you. This will garner more attention in the next year. I truly believe libraries can play a pivotal role. Materials and resources and build capabilities to deal with these communities and provide funding for these programs.
Thank you. (applause)
Q. Have you done market surveys to find out how these customers have received this information in the past.
A. Little research on this topic. Immigrants using libraries, there is very little information. Did set up a focus group with groups that had integration programs. Uscis.gov has the report. When they heard from libraries and churches there is lack of information. Those libraries who reach out to immigrants, their libraries are used. Some libraries donâ€™t have the resources so there are challenges. In some of the district offices there is online assistance, to get their appointments. But libraries didnâ€™t have the services necessary to help them. The toolkit is on their web site for the immigrant to use. He feels they need to develop an initiative and then do the research. Something needs to be done now, because immigrants are in our community now. Start a program and then do the research to see if it is working. This needs to be done now. Feedback they have gotten is extremely valuable.
Q. Never heard of his office. Federal funding agency. Every state manages those funds and some funds actually make their way to those programs. ALA has already done a lot of research on these communities so he needs access to those reports. The public libraries do work to help the immigrant and serve this population. What would be useful would be information for library staff to bridge the gap between American library culture and their own. Example, many cultures donâ€™t understand the idea of checking out a book and then bringing it back.
A. This is a comprehensive approach, that is part of a larger effort. To encourage Americans with in the program to teach English to foreigners. Also there is a problem because they canâ€™t take English classes because they work two jobs. Churches also help immigrants to assimilate. We need volunteers to help move the program forward. Something we have to look at. Separate from other funding streams. Private sector for funds. Libraries are another resource to go to get their information.
ALA one of the first places was ALA. Initially, one of the problems was a suspicion because we are part of the homeland security department.
Q. Most of the immigrants canâ€™t use the computer to make appointments so they want the librarian to fill out the forms for them. The lottery program came out this month but it isnâ€™t in Spanish, only in English and it is an online form. They need a picture to be uploaded with the application. There isnâ€™t enough staff to handle all these questions.
A. This is mainly about providing material but not specifically about filling out forms. Each district office has its own way of handling problems. Obviously, this isnâ€™t the best way to handle things.
Q. Sometimes the immigrant doesnâ€™t know what a web address is.
A. We are aware of this. Absolutely, but this is not something that can be addressed from our office. but we will take it into account. We donâ€™t want to recommend they go somewhere where they canâ€™t get the information they need. We are also looking at non-mandating online filing.
Q. I am not a librarian but I am a technologist. Librarians feel they are taking the overflow from the offices. Wouldnâ€™t it be appropriate to develop a program with libraries in their own languages? Itâ€™s going to take some work. Libraries are places to exchange information.
A. We are already working with some libraries who are targeting orientation sessions with the Office of Citizenship.
Libraries are going to have funding issues to provide services to community members and immigrants. It is a very complex issue and it isnâ€™t going to change. We need to address those needs. Are we going to have adequate funding? Probably not. We need to have more funding for libraries.
Q. Recommend he write a letter of what is needed to address and help the immigrant populations.
A. He doesnâ€™t want to make this another unfunded mandate, he wants to make this a partnership. He wants to start little by little with those libraries who can help fund this on their own first. Then look at grant monies.
Q. Ami Quinn. There is a big disconnect with immigrants and librarians in filling out forms. The Univ. ILL has been working to help with this already. There needs to be a national strategy on how to work with this. That includes the libraries and churches. There needs to be a meeting at least once a year to update the changes with the immigration law.
A. The government is working on this initiative. They are interested in helping immigrants come together to get the information they need. Congressmen have been holding classes in their offices in English. Chicago area to provide adequate information. We need to think smart to work with different groups to get the message out. We have immigration meetings.
Q. Seattle pub lib what about podcasting? It might be a way to spread out the information. If we do that as a .government, she can certainly work with people to see that immigrants can have access to computers at her library.
A. They are working on it. Government site in language, that has web casting. Interesting idea. In California they have a great program but only a small portion use the libraries. We need to look creatively.
Q. Massachusetts. We have an Immigrant Services Librarian. Users want them to do things and public libraries want to help but they donâ€™t have the funds to do everything, They just had to cut back on the English classes. Work with ALA and help librarians find what is available. What might be a better use of funds would be orientation for librarians.
A. What I am hearing here today, task force will be working with the library community to hear your ideas. Certainly donâ€™t want to impose an unfunded mandate. But he truly believes that you need to start building on something to get the attention of the policy makers.
Q. To the task force members list available on the web site?
A. There are about 10 cabinet level agencies.
Q. Closed libraries in the west. We need advice and how to reach the members of our communities to help them. We need help with marketing ourselves.
A. We have a very nice flash presentation. We could train the trainer. With immigrants, you wouldnâ€™t have the knowledge to answer some of their questions and you shouldnâ€™t answer them.
Q. Hispanic in Arizona, there is a huge mistrust of government sites, so they donâ€™t go there. They wonâ€™t come even if we have the marketing available. These sessions canâ€™t be labeled immigration in any way.
A. The old IMS has been disbanded. We have information for documented immigrants, not undocumented. This initiative is targeting those who are in the country legally. They shouldnâ€™t have a problem using a government web site. Until we have a comprehensive immigration reform, we will have problems with this area. Many of the customers in your library will be in the target population.
He avoids answering some questions because of the problems. Immigration law is more complex than tax law. He is a lawyer.
Make sure you refer people to accredited immigration lawyers. You can provide basic orientation, but donâ€™t answer immigration questions. And make sure they are referred to the correct people.
If your library decides to provide a citizenship program, they will have materials on their web site to help them.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.