Hartford – The Hartford City Council unanimously approved a resolution last night calling for the creation of a task force to establish a Commission on Immigrant Affairs. The task force is the result of months of advocacy by the Hartford Public Library’s Immigrant Advisory Group and local groups in the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance.
Ana María Rivera Forastieri, legal and policy analyst of Junta for Progressive Action, a member of the Connecticut Immigrant Rights Alliance, said, “The adoption of an immigrant affairs task force will be a big win for the Hartford immigrant and refugee community. Its creation will ensure that this community is not further marginalized and their needs are brought to the table when the city adopts policies that will significantly impact their lives.”
“While we keep up the pressure on Congress and President Obama to move commonsense immigration reform forward, we must do our part locally to promote justice for Hartford’s immigrants and enhance their contributions to our economy. This historic commission will be entrusted with the safety and welfare of all Hartford immigrants to come and we hope it is replicated across the country,” added Kurt Westby, vice president and Connecticut state director of 32BJ SEIU, the largest property service workers union in the country with 4,500 members in Connecticut.
Councilman Joel Cruz, Jr. was the primary sponsor of the resolution. “As a third generation Puerto Rican living in Hartford, my parents and grandparents have passed on to me their stories of struggle with language, culture, and racism when they first came to the city of Hartford. I find it to be my duty to help create a solid voice for others that come to this country. As a city and as a community that has much diversity, we must hear the concerns and attend to the needs of others. I believe a commission on immigration, composed of those in the front line of immigration concerns and needs, will help us create a Hartford that truly embraces its people,” Councilman Cruz said.
The council’s Quality of Life and Public Safety Committee voted last Tuesday to favorably recommend the resolution and bring it before the full council last night. The task force will formally establish a commission to advise the mayor and city council on the issues faced by immigrants and refugees living in Hartford, and to propose local pro-immigrant and refugee policies. The commission will oversee the well-being of the city’s immigrant communities and facilitate the successful integration of immigrants into the civic, economic and cultural life of the city.