Accessibility spotlight: Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (2024)

In 2016, Mayor Martin J. Walsh signed a City ordinance called “Establishing Language and Communications Access for City Services.” We are excited to share with you the progress that has been made in this monthly article series. We hope you will support us in making Boston a more accessible place to live, work, and play.

The City of Boston’s Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (MOIA) was one of the first of its kind in the US. Founded in 1998, MOIA gained recognition as a model for other cities. It wasn't until 2008 that offices like MOIA began to grow in number around the country. Today, remains central to Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s vision for Boston. MOIA works to strengtheMOIA n the ability of immigrants in Boston to take part in the city. This includes the economic, civic, social, and cultural life of the city. They also promote the recognition and public understanding of immigrant contributions to Boston.

The lens of language and communication access is vital for MOIA to achieve its mission. MOIA serves a unique population. It includes people who live in the diverse Boston boundaries. But it also includes people who come to Boston to work, go to school, shop, and take part in cultural events. Language can be a significant barrier for these constituents. 17.4% of city residents identify as having a language access need in English. This doesn’t even account for the 22.7 million people predicted to visit Boston in 2019.

The City must represent and cater to its diverse constituents. An Le is MOIA’s Policy and Communications Advisor. He believes language and communications access must be “an operational function of City government, not a luxury feature.” Le points out that this function is also important for English-speaking immigrants. There are many immigrants who already communicate well in English. But, they may still need clarification for certain information. For example, words such as “justice” can take on many meanings in different situations. Unfamiliar and complex subjects, like immigration, are at risk of mistranslation. Such topics need context to be clearly communicated. MOIA can help clarify these concepts and jargon to Boston constituents.

MOIA serves as a main information center for immigrants. They offer multilingual Immigrant Information Centers in libraries and community centers. They host monthly free immigration consultations with volunteer attorneys. Constituents can request free interpretation services for the clinics a week in advance. They also promote public understanding of immigrant contributions to Boston. MOIA’s “To Immigrants With Love” program is city-wide. It shares stories of immigrants and encourages civic involvement.

The first step towards language access in Boston took place through MOIA. Before the 2016 law, MOIA managed two very well known resources. These are the LCA Volunteer Pool and the Professional Vendor Directory. Departments often reached out to MOIA when language services were in need. In 2016, the Mayor wanted to think about language and disability access in a more strategic way. After the 2016 ordinance became law, the LCA team began to plan and create resources. LCA extends tools, trainings and information across all departments. Now, departments no longer need to refer language access cases to MOIA. The City has made a united effort to increase language and communications access. City offices now use translation and interpretation services in their everyday operations. They can respond to in-person interpretation requests, including ASL and Deaf Interpreters. They also have access to Video Remote Interpretation (VRI) for walk-ins. Or, Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) for longer meetings.

MOIA also partners with community organizations to serve constituents. On September 28, hundreds of people will be at Roxbury Crossing for Citizenship Day. This annual event attracts over 350 applicants for U.S. citizenship. Since 2014, 1,444 applicants submitted applications on Citizenship Day. Over 350 volunteers, law students, and attorneys are also expected to show. In a city where 1 in 4 residents is an immigrant, this event matters.

Language and communications access are crucial for a successful Citizenship Day. U.S. citizenship applications must be completed in English. Certain applicants aged 50 years or older may be eligible for language exemptions. These are the “50/20” and “55/15” exemptions. But all other applicants must fill out the application themselves in English. Multilingual volunteers pre-screen applicants for the required level of English. They also fulfill American Sign Language (ASL) and Certified Deaf Interpreter requests. Applicants who need more English skills receive information on learning resources.

As a collaborating partner, MOIA manages event outreach. They design multilingual materials and advertise the English-language rule to potential applicants. MOIA collaborates with local ethnic media outlets to promote the event. On previous Citizenship Days, some immigrant groups have had lower representation. MOIA addresses this by working with local community groups for outreach support. MOIA even sends out translated appointment reminders to applicants through the AlertBoston system. MOIA and Project Citizenship work together to pool resources. Thus, they are able to plan a united approach.

Events like Citizenship Day are important. They show that planning is essential to successful engagement. They show the importance of collaboration. And they show the value of language and communications access. As such, MOIA aims to continue such efforts and programs. They will be a continued presence within the immigrant community and City of Boston as a whole.

The Office of Language and Communication Access works to strengthen the City of Boston so that services, programs and activities are meaningfully accessible to all constituents. To learn more, visit theLanguage and Communications Access website.

Accessibility spotlight: Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (2024)


Why did the government restrict immigration? ›

A variety of factors encouraged immigration restriction. These include a concern about the impact of immigration on the economic well-being of a country's workforce as well as anxiety about the feasibility of assimilating immigrants of diverse ethnic and cultural origins.

What is the Immigrant Economic Recovery Initiative in Boston? ›

Program Overview:

For one year, the Immigrant Economic Recovery Initiative (IERI) will support 200 low-income immigrant households in Boston by providing monthly unconditional cash grants of $600, as well as opportunities to participate in workshops and savings-based incentives to earn an extra $300 each month.

How many immigrants get denied citizenship each year? ›

Of the applications submitted each year, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves about 23%, denies about 2–3%, and leaves about 70% pending. This article covers the U.S. citizenship by naturalization process and statistics on that process.

How many immigrants are allowed in the U.S. each year? ›

The law governing U.S. immigration policy is called the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The INA allows the United States to grant up to 675,000 permanent immigrant visas each year across various visa categories.

What has Biden done for immigration? ›

The Biden administration issued an executive order restoring an Obama-era policy repealed by Trump that grants asylum to apprehended migrants fleeing domestic or gang violence, allowing them to stay in the United States while their case is being reviewed.

How much money do immigrants add to the economy? ›

Immigrant workers will add an extra $7 trillion to the U.S. economy within the next decade and an extra $1 trillion in federal tax revenue.

What kind of programs helped immigrants the most? ›

What kind of programs do you think helped immigrants the most? the language and job skills programs were the most beneficial- gave immigrants practical skills.

Why did some Americans want to restrict immigration? ›

Some Americans wanted to restrict immigration because they felt threaded by the new immigrants who were different. Also, many did not want any criminals, immoral people, or paupers to come to the U.S.

Why did the U.S. government limit immigration in the 1920's? ›

In the 1920s, policymakers reduced immigration with several cultural and economic goals in mind. One economic goal was to reduce the number of low-skilled workers in the U.S. economy, therefore allowing manufacturing to evolve in the direction of higher-skilled, higher productivity manufacturing activity.

Why does the federal government control immigration? ›

The Constitution delegates to the United States Congress the power “[t]o establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, … throughout the United States.” Thus, the Constitution gives Congress the power to determine which foreigners can become citizens, and under what conditions.

Why did the U.S. not limit immigration during most of the 19th century? ›

What was the main reason the United States did not limit immigration during most of the 19th century? - Quora. Simple answer: Workers. The United States needed laborers, lots of them, and low paid and even forced labor at that.

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