Los Angeles — Ahead of Fourth of July citizenship celebrations and in the wake of the Senate’s passage of broad, bipartisan immigration reform last week, executives and employees with American Apparel, AltaMed and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce joined with the National Immigration Forum this morning to highlight the importance of immigrant integration and reaffirm their commitment to helping their immigrant employees become citizens.
As part of the Bethlehem Project—which is funded in large part by the New Americans Campaign—businesses in Los Angeles and other cities across the country have been increasingly leading the charge to integrate our nation’s newest citizens. Partnering with service providers such as the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Asian Americans for Advancing Justice, the Central American Resource Center, the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and Catholic Charities, these businesses are offering their immigrant employees onsite services such as English classes, civics instruction and legal assistance for citizenship applications, as well as reaping the benefits of a more engaged workforce.
“AltaMed is a proud partner of the Bethlehem Project,” said Robert Turner, AltaMed’s Vice President of Human Resources. “For more than 40 years, AltaMed has worked in underserved communities of Los Angeles, the very same communities that have high immigrant populations. Helping legal permanent residents find stable work and become engaged citizens of our neighborhoods is an optimal outcome for us all.”
“We are very fortunate and blessed to have been introduced to the good people at the Bethlehem Project, and we are honored and proud to be considered the flagship company for the Los Angeles area,” added Marty Bailey, Chief Manufacturing Officer at American Apparel. “Most importantly, with the Project’s guidance, many of our employees have quickly benefited and are much closer to citizenship than they possibly would have been otherwise.”
The Bethlehem Project is designed to meet the needs of employees and the businesses they work for. While hardworking eligible employees obtain essential skills such as English language training that increase their earning potential and open doors for engagement in their new homeland, businesses and communities earn many benefits as well.
“We are thrilled to work in partnership with the Bethlehem Project,” said David Rattray, Senior Vice President of Education and Workforce Development for the L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce. “Encouraging business to view themselves as an important component of the implementation of comprehensive immigration reform will ultimately enable California to gain an additional $4.6 billion annually.”
“Businesses have a unique opportunity to work with immigrants in their workforce and help them reach the dream of citizenship,” said Mark Falzone, Deputy Director of the National Immigration Forum. “With the entire nation debating immigration reform, now is the time for business to lead the way in immigrant integration services that are good for the bottom line and great for employees.”
Employees Attend Free Citizenship Workshop at American Apparel
LOS ANGELES — Today, the National Immigration Forum joined American Apparel employees to launch The Bethlehem Project in Los Angeles. Through this innovative citizenship initiative, businesses partner with local immigrant-service organizations such as NALEO, APALC, CARECEN and Catholic Charities to offer their immigrant employees onsite services such as English classes, civics instruction and legal assistance for citizenship applications.
Across the country, it’s business that is increasingly leading the charge to help new Americans integrate. Following the launch of the Bethlehem Project in Miami in April, American Apparel becomes the first Los Angeles–area business taking a leadership role by investing in its immigrant workforce — in a city where nearly 1.6 million people are eligible for citizenship.
“In the end, the most important parties involved — our employees — left well-informed and seemingly energized to make the step toward a better life for them and their families,” said Marty Bailey, President of Manufacturing at American Apparel.
The Bethlehem Project is designed to meet the needs of employees and the businesses they work for. Hardworking immigrants gain essential skills on the worksite that will increase their earning potential and allow them to fully engage as citizens in their new homeland, and businesses will benefit from increased loyalty and better-trained workers.
“The L.A. Area Chamber applauds the efforts American Apparel is putting forth, in conjunction with the National Immigration Forum’s Bethlehem Project, to help eligible immigrant workers pursue citizenship,” said Gary Toebben, President and CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “This is a model that should be replicated nationwide. Encouraging citizenship will improve economic prosperity for all stakeholders involved.”
“The Bethlehem Project is a unique opportunity for employers to support their workers in their journey to becoming American citizens,” added Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “From Miami to Los Angeles and beyond, we’re hearing from business leaders and employees who view this service as good for the bottom line and great for employee morale.”
The InterContinental Miami, the Betsy Hotel and Miami-Dade College Participate in National Immigration Forum’s Bethlehem Project
MIAMI, FL. —Today, the National Immigration Forum inaugurated Miami as the official launch city for “The Bethlehem Project”. Through this innovative citizenship promotion initiative, businesses partner with immigrant-service organizations like the International Rescue Committee to offer their immigrant employees on-site services such as English classes, civic instruction and legal assistance for citizenship applications.
The business community is increasingly leading the effort to integrate our nation’s aspiring citizens. Miami companies like InterContinental Hotel—Miami, The Betsy Hotel—South Beach and Miami-Dade College are taking their leadership to a new level by recognizing the value of investing in their immigrant workforce and promoting citizenship and integration in the workplace. While many opportunities exist for English learning, civics instruction and naturalization assistance at different sites like churches, community colleges and immigrant service organizations, virtually nobody integrates all three needs in one site like the workplace.
Immigrant employees praised the project because it adds the invaluable convenience of accessing citizenship assistance at their place of work.
“Becoming a U.S. citizen is a very important step to me because I feel that this country is my home,” said Ráquel Araujo-Escobar, an employee at InterContinental Miami. “Having my employer support me in this important step by providing citizenship assistance at my place of work is a true blessing.”
Similarly, business leaders stressed the Bethlehem Project’s practicality and benefits to employees and companies alike.
“This program is easy to handle and coordinate. The Bethlehem Project supported us through the different stages of the program and provided flyers and easy-to-understand information that we could share with our staff in multiple languages,” said Nilmarie Almovodar, Human Resources Director at The Betsy - South Beach.
“With this partnership we are demonstrating to our employees that we care and support their best interests, and that we care for our community,” added Leonie Timothee of the Human Resources Department at The InterContinental Miami.
The city of Miami is a symbol of the convergence between business and immigration. Noted worldwide as an entrepreneurial city, Miami also boasts a significant immigrant population – with over 60% of its residents hailing from other parts of the world.
“In Miami-County we have over 520,000 individuals who are legal permanent residents who have not yet become citizens,” said Eduardo Padrón, President at Miami-Dade College. “Becoming a citizen not only provides you with greater responsibility for civic engagement and voting, but it also helps you and the companies involved to get a better return on your investment.”
The Bethlehem Project is designed to meet the needs of employees and the businesses they work for – on the one hand, hard-working immigrants achieve essential skills such as English language training that will increase their earning potential and allow them to fully engage as citizens in their new homeland. On the other hand, businesses will benefit from increased productivity from better trained workers.
“The Miami business community, many of whom are immigrants themselves, has long understood the importance of nurturing the innovation, energy and spirit of the immigrant community to build a more prosperous Miami,” noted Manny Díaz, Mayor of the City of Miami. “Today, we make another plea to our business community. Work with us as we try to bring these half-a-million citizen eligible residents in our community to become an even greater part of the American mainstream.”
“For hard-working immigrants in Miami, this assistance will mean the ability to realize the American Dream; for our partner businesses, this program will pay off in increased effectiveness and opportunities for advancement of their employees,” added Ali Noorani, Executive Director at the National Immigration Forum.
For more information and to join this groundbreaking initiative, please visit: www.joinbethlehemproject.org