President Obama’s White House Task Force on New Americans unveiled its recommendations Friday for a national strategy to “integrate” millions of immigrants and refugees into “welcoming communities” across the U.S.
The co-chair of the task force, Obama’s domestic policy adviser Cecilia Muñoz, said her focus is on making sure Obama’s historic immigration policies get “institutionalized” so they will live on long after she and her boss are gone from the White House.
Obama created the task force Nov. 21 when he announced his plan to unilaterally grant amnesty to more than 5 million illegal immigrants and child migrants. His administration is also bringing in 70,000 foreign refugees per year from places like Iraq, Somalia, Bhutan, Burma and Syria.
Friday’s conference was titled “The New National Integration Plan: Making the Most of a Historic Opportunity.”
Muñoz, a former executive with the National Council of La Raza, said it was her job “to make sure we build this really into the DNA across the federal bureaucracy, at a leadership level, but much more importantly to make sure that when political appointees like me are no longer here this (immigration strategy) is built into what those agencies do and think about every day.”
Muñoz said it was important for the federal government to standardize, set benchmarks and “measure successes,” ensuring states and localities create the desired “welcoming communities” for immigrants and refugees.
Eva Millona, co-chair of National Partnership for New Americans, a coalition of 34 organizations involved in everything from protecting immigrant rights to providing social services, echoed the call for a strong federal role.
“We have been pushing to really have a centralized leadership in terms of implementation of this report,” Millona said. “We are happy that the report has called for a centralized entity to really move it forward.”
She said Felicia Escobar, special assistant to the president for immigration policy, will be leading the way.
“And let me make a pitch for philanthropy,” Millona said. “There’s a huge opportunity for them to have their voice and their say and many of our friends and funders are involved.”
She spoke of “diverse needs” of the immigrants and making sure those needs were met.
She stressed it is critical “to have a very strong and centralized entity to make things happen.”
Millona said the 34 organizations affiliated with the National Partnership for New Americans already have “boots on the ground” in 29 states, including all manner of service providers, immigrant rights attorneys, interpreters, and advocates “to make sure immigrants have what they need.”
“It’s a national group and the only one of its kind pushing an immigration integration agenda forward,” Millona said.
Silent on ‘assimilation’ and security risks
The conference Friday was also notable for what was not addressed.
Hotbutton issues of assimilation and protecting national security never came up during the 90-minute conference at the Migration Policy Institute in Washington.
The poor record of assimilation into American society by refugees from Somalia and other Muslim countries never got mentioned. Dozens of Somalis living in Minnesota and other states have been arrested on charges of providing material support to Islamic terrorist groups al-Shabab, al-Qaida and ISIS. The FBI’s newest “most wanted terrorist,” Liban Haji Mohamed, was a Somali-American cab driver from Northern Virginia who entered the country as a refugee. Two Iraqi refugees living in Kentucky were also arrested in 2011 and charged with sending support to al-Qaida.
Six Bosnian natives who immigrated to the U.S. were indicted in February in New York for allegedly sending money and military equipment to al-Qaida in Iraq and the ISIS terror group.
The Boston Marathon bombers were also Muslims who entered the country as asylum seekers from Chechnya.
Just this week, Thursday, another Somali-American, 23-year-old Abdirahman Sheik Mohamud of Columbus, Ohio, was indicted on charges that he provided a computer and other support to terrorists during a trip to the Middle East. He came to the United States from Somalia as a young child refugee.
But rather than addressing assimilation and national security problems, the conference focused on “integration.” It’s the new buzz word for planting diverse, multicultural communities within communities.
Obama, in his Nov. 21 memo, challenged 16 federal agencies to get involved in the effort of “creating welcoming communities.” The focus should be three-pronged, Muñoz said — economic, linguistic and civic.
What was meant by “civic” was never explained, but some observers see it as preparing the new migrants to be registered voters and activist citizens who will engage in political issues favorable to open borders and easy paths to citizenship for new generations of migrant workers and refugees.
Indeed, one new program was announced at the conference Friday that will involve refugees in volunteer service through AmeriCorps.
“The Refugees Corps we are creating is a program that AmeriCorps runs in partnership with the Office of Refugee Resettlement …to actually serve in that program to help the next generation (of refugees) to become citizens,” said Escobar, special assistant to the president for immigration policy.
A woman who said she was representing the National Council of La Raza, a left-of-center Chicano advocacy group, said at Friday’s conference, “Our affiliates are ready to help local partners on the ground … to pull together civic, economic and linguistic resources in an integration zone.”
Global integration zones are seen as the new economic unit, transcending national borders and linking specialized economic functions such as transportation. Workers freely cross in and out of a country to work in the zone.
Kevin Appleby, director of immigration and migration services for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stood up Friday and urged Obama’s team to include “faith-based” organizations in its integration plans. The Conference of Catholic Bishops is one of nine primary resettlement agencies that contract with the federal government to resettle refugees in America. The Lutherans, Episcopalians, evangelicals and Reform Jewish groups are also running resettlement agencies funded largely by federal grants.
“The local church is often the second place, after the family, the immigrants go to and the role of faith-based groups is often overlooked,” Appleby said. “…So as we go forward look at the ways the government and faith-based groups can work together. Where do they meet and how can they meet?”
Radio host Mark Levin, in a recent show, interviewed Susan Payne, who infiltrated a telephone conference call with more than a dozen members of Obama’s White House Task Force on New Americans. The teleconference was hosted by Muñoz.
Payne told Levin that by listening in on the call she learned the following: The participants spoke of their plans to plant “seedlings” of immigrant populations into “receiving communities” that would be cultivated into fertile “soil.”
The idea was that the seedlings would sprout and grow into communities within communities. This is “integration.” The soil, meaning the community, needed to be changed to accommodate the needs of the seedlings, rather than the other way around. Eventually, the mature seedlings would take over the host community.
Listen to Mark Levin’s full interview with Susan Payne below:
Task force leaders said Friday they held three national outreaches involving 3,000 so-called stakeholders, which included people from government agencies, NGOs, immigrant advocacy groups and local elected officials.
Waging a propaganda war on ‘receiving communities’
Preparing the receiving communities requires agitators on the ground at the local level. Their role is to combat any push back that might be encountered from local residents.
One big player in this propaganda war is Welcoming America, which was started with seed money from billionaire George Soros. Its stated mission is to work at the grassroots level, setting up “welcoming communities” in cities and counties across the U.S. Soros’s Open Society Institute granted the organization $150,000 in December 2010.
The group’s website describes its mission as a “collaborative that promotes mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans. Through a countrywide network of member organizations and partners, Welcoming America works to promote a welcoming atmosphere – community by community – in which immigrants and native born residents can find common ground and shared prosperity.”
The group sponsored “Welcoming Week” Sept. 13-21, 2014, to “celebrate immigrants and refugees and the growing movement of leaders and communities that fully embrace immigrants and refugees and their value to the fabric of our country.”
The group also formed the Welcoming Institute to train up leaders who will engage in “building community support for refugees” across the nation. It also runs radio and TV ads and pays for billboards promoting open immigration.
David Lubell, executive director of Welcoming America, said his organization brings a new approach to immigration, focusing on resident populations of the “receiving communities” as much as the immigrants.
His role is to soften up the soil, getting it ready for the planting of the seedlings.
“A lot of groups are trying to water the seed, and not the soil surrounding it,” Lubell told Huffington Post, using the same language Payne said she heard on the conference call. “We’re trying to water the soil. Nothing’s going to grow just by watering one alone.”
Lubell was rewarded for his efforts last December. Obama invited him for a ride on Air Force One and lauded his groundbreaking work on behalf of immigrants, the Tennessean reported.
Another player in funding the propaganda war is the New York-based JM Kaplan Fund.
This organization’s mission is to “ensure that immigrants capitalize on measures designed to allow them to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation; and encourage the development of robust immigrant integration agendas at the local, state and federal levels,” according to its website.
A check of Kaplan’s list of grants for 2013 shows $145,000 sent to Welcoming America for general operations and $15,000 to the Migration Policy Institute for “Refugee Resettlement: Strengthening the System and Containing the Backlash.”
Welcoming America avoids the politics of specifics immigration policies, targeting instead the “social and cultural fears” suffered by Americans in “changing communities,” Lubell told Huffington Post. Of course, the people in these communities are never told that the changes being wrought upon them are being centrally planned by bureaucrats in Washington and the resettlement agencies that contract with the government, taking in millions in federal grant money.
“Our main goal is to reach those people who are unsure whether immigration growth is a positive thing or not,” Lubell said. “And some of them are very reasonable — they’re just not getting accurate information about immigration.”
The White House report encourages every community in every state to establish an immigration integration plan.
“The reason for the lightning speed on this is the president gave us a timeline, because he is eager for what we can accomplish, eager for outcomes,” Muñoz said Friday. “We’re making sure the federal government is doing its job and doing its best to lift up cities, mayors and local governments, to make sure others are taking this job on as well, and we have great, great examples to follow of many in this field of building welcoming communities. And the task force’s work is reflective of that. We heard from a lot of people around the country.”