Summary: In partnership with the City of San José, the WHIAAPI hosted the 5th White House Regional Convening on New Americans to discuss how everyone can thrive in Silicon Valley
On the heels of Cesar Chavez Day, the White House Task Force on New Americans worked with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which is housed within the Department of Education, to host its fifth White House Regional Convening on New Americans in San José, California. In partnership with the City of San José, the convening brought together close to 100 federal, state, and city officials, along with local agencies and business and community leaders, to discuss how to develop a vision for shared prosperity where all residents, including immigrants and refugees, can thrive in the Silicon Valley region.
Mayor Sam Liccardo welcomed community leaders to the convening stating: “We are a city of immigrants. Our immigrant community is a critical thread of our DNA, and while San José is well on its way to becoming the most successful multi-cultural city on this planet, we still have work to do.”
Zulma Maciel, Assistant to the City Manager, noted the region is especially ripe to pursue shared prosperity for all Americans, new and existing, since the majority of Silicon Valley residents are immigrants and their children. Among immigrant communities in the region, more than 60 percent hail from Asia, and over a quarter are from Latin America. Last August, Mayor Liccardo, with support from City Council, established an Office of Immigrant Affairs to lead the city’s immigrant integration and welcoming efforts. Since its inception, the Office has convened a Steering Committee of community leaders charged with developing a three-year immigrant integration plan, its Welcoming San José Plan. It has also established citizenship corners in local libraries and held naturalization workshops in partnership with local service providers.
Doua Thor, Executive Director of the Initiative, moderated a panel that explored the immigrant profile in Silicon Valley, which spans across the world and levels of educational attainment and economic security. Panelists included Stanford Professor Tomás Jimenez, Silicon Valley Community Foundation CEO Emmett Carson, and Wendy Ho at the Silicon Valley Council of Non-Profits. These community leaders emphasized the need for an inclusive and vibrant community where everyone is lifted up.
The convening concluded with discussions on key issues and challenges for immigrant and refugee communities and an exchange between community leaders and federal agency representatives to share best practices for supporting career pathways for immigrant families, fostering entrepreneurship and small business growth, creating welcoming communities through family engagement, strengthening pathways to naturalization, and advancing access to affordable and safe housing. The Task Force and Initiative look forward to continuing the dialogue on welcoming and integrating new Americans with community leaders and the City of San José Office of Immigrant Affairs.