Mayor Scott, Councilwoman Ramos Introduce Legislation to Codify the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs
Monday Oct 16th, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BALTIMORE, MD (Monday, October 16, 2023) – Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott championed a groundbreaking legislative proposal to codify the work of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MIMA).
Introduced by Councilwoman Ramos on behalf of the administration, Bill 23-0438, seeks to solidify the existence and operations of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, establishing it as a vital component of Baltimore’s commitment to equity, diversity, and the well-being of its immigrant population. The proposal reflects Mayor’s Scott’s unwavering dedication to creating a more equitable and welcoming environment for all residents.
In Baltimore, the immigrant population has been a consistent source of growth, mitigating overall population loss. From 2010 to 2021, the city’s foreign-born population grew by over 4,571 people, a 9% growth rate compared to an overall population decrease of 44,000 people in the same period. Today, Baltimore’s foreign-born population represents 8% of the city’s total population.
“Immigrants bring diverse perspectives, skills, and experiences that enrich our City, but they also face unique challenges as they settle into a new home,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “MIMA has already done incredible work both supporting and advocating for our immigrant community. In order to better serve this growing demographic and uphold our commitment to equity, inclusivity and diversity, it is imperative that we institutionalize the work of MIMA.”
“Embracing our immigrant community isn't just a matter of policy; it's a reflection of our shared values,” said Councilwoman Odette Ramos (District 14). “Codifying the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs will ensure that Baltimore City government continues to keep the needs of our immigrant and Limited English Proficient communities in mind. I am honored, as the first Latina Councilperson in Baltimore City, to be part of this chapter in our history.”
MIMA’s key features outlined in the legislative proposal include:
- Technical Assistance and Comprehensive Support: Continue to serve as a hub where City agencies can access information and resources related to demographics, language access, training, outreach strategies, messaging and communications, information dissemination, best practices, policies, and more. MIMA’s work is to ensure that local government agencies are culturally competent and sensitive to the needs of immigrant communities as programs and services are developed and implemented.
- Messaging and Communications: Continue to facilitate communication tailored to immigrants' needs, ensuring that information about policies, events, and opportunities is accessible and understandable in the City’s five core languages. This is critical as a third of the City’s foreign-born population cannot read, write or speak English. MIMA employs various communication channels to keep communities informed such as a monthly newsletter, social media, biweekly community stakeholder calls, community events and collaborations with immigrant focused CBOs and ethnic media.
- Community Building and Engagement: Continue to coordinate community engagement and promote civic participation, helping immigrants become active members of society. This includes organizing events, conducting outreach activities, hosting a civics academy program, soliciting input regarding local government programs, and staffing multiple community workgroups such as the Baltimore City Hispanic Commission, Language Access Oversight Committee, MIMA’s Community Advisory Board, and the Asian American and Pacific Island Workgroup.
- Language Access and Federal Compliance: Continue to assist city agencies to achieve compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on national origin, which is interpreted to include language. MIMA provides language access resources to city employees to overcome language barriers when serving residents whose English is not their first language.
- Advocacy and Policy Development: Continue to advocate for the rights and interests of immigrants. In this role, MIMA informs the development of more inclusive and effective polices and processes at the local level.
Codifying MIMA comes, in part, at the request of community groups and organizations such as the Baltimore City Hispanic Commission.
“Baltimore has a rich immigrant history and a long tradition of welcoming all people, no matter their country of origin. By codifying MIMA, our Mayor is not only ensuring that immigrants are represented in Baltimore City during his administration, but also for years to come,” said Flor Giusti, Chair of the Baltimore City Hispanic Commission. “On behalf of the Commission, I commend the mayor for taking leadership on this issue.”
Established in 2014, MIMA has served as a hub for technical assistance, immigrant support, civic engagement, information, resources, and advocacy. In 2021, Baltimore City was ranked number #5 in the country in immigrant integration efforts by the American Immigration Council and the New Americans Economy. The index measures and compares immigrant integration across the 100 largest cities in the United States by assessing local policies such as language access, immigration legal services, government infrastructures dedicated to supporting New Americans and more. In addition, in 2019, Baltimore City earned the nationally recognized designation of Certified Welcoming. This designation is possible after an intensive audit process in which Welcoming America, a national organization that provides support to welcoming communities, assessed Baltimore’s City’s programs and policies against identified national best practices.
“As MIMA’s founding Director, I am proud of the work accomplished in partnership with community members, non-profit organizations, advocates, faith-based institutions, philanthropy and more,” said Catalina Rodriguez, Director of MIMA. “MIMA’s codification underscores the administration’s commitment to fostering and inclusive city that acknowledges the contributions immigrants make to our city’s economic, cultural and social fabric. I am grateful to Mayor Scott and Councilwoman Ramos for their leadership and vision.”
Baltimore City residents, advocates and organizations interested in this proposal are encouraged to participate in the legislative process. For more information about the bill or to voice your support, please visit Legislative Process | Baltimore City Council
About the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MIMA)
The establishment of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MIMA) was a recommendation from The New Americans Task Force, a diverse group of community stakeholders. MIMA’s mission since its formation in 2014 has been to promote community well-being, economic development, and the integration of immigrant communities by identifying needs and opportunities that New Americans bring to our city while developing public-private partnerships to strengthen the development of these communities. For more information regarding MIMA, please visit https://mima.baltimorecity.gov