In August of 2016, the City of Houston, BakerRipley (formerly Neighborhood Centers) and the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative launched the Welcoming Houston initiative, a multi-sector strategic planning effort focused on welcoming and integrating new Americans.
The mission of Welcoming Houston is to recommend and implement policies and programs that foster the integration of immigrants and refugees into the civic, social, and economic fabric of Houston. This document represents the first step in this mission. The strategic plan and detailed recommendations below call upon public, private, and nonprofit stakeholders to work collaboratively to ensure that Houston is not merely diverse, but pluralistic and committed to equity.
The Welcoming Houston recommendations were compiled with the input of more than 100 individuals, including a 39-member Task Force, 50+ community members and civic leaders across committees covering six different topic areas, a Project Team, and several volunteers. Welcoming Houston participants include immigrant and native-born voices, refugees, documented and undocumented individuals. It also includes those who work with asylees and asylum seekers as well as victims of human trafficking, the LGBTQI community, faith leaders, persons of all abilities, academics and researchers, civil servants, and individuals from the private sector and the education sector. The Task Force also administered a web- and paper-based survey and focus groups to garner ground-level input from immigrant community members.
The planning effort was supported by the Gateways for Growth Challenge, an initiative of Partnership for a New American Economy (NAE) and Welcoming America. Houston was one of 20 communities nationwide selected to receive support for immigrant integration planning. We thank NAE and Welcoming America for their assistance in this work.
The implementation of these recommendations will require ongoing collaboration and communication among all stakeholders, accountability measures, transparent metrics, and direct engagement with immigrant individuals and families across Houston. The Collaborative is working on a number of the recommendations as part of its ongoing work to provide high quality legal services to low-income immigrants in Houston.