Advocates ask Tucson to open an office to help immigrants

2013-03-21T00:00:00Z Advocates ask Tucson to open an office to help immigrantsPerla Trevizo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 21, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Community leaders are asking the city to create an office of immigration as the next step for the council's proclamation of Tucson being an "Immigrant Welcoming City."

"We need to strengthen this culture of acceptance, not just through a declaration but really permeate every structure of government," said Florencio Zaragoza, president of Fundación México.

The local organization, which works to strengthen the relationship between Mexico and the United States, has collected 100 signatures and earlier this year presented its proposal to Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

The group will hold a breakfast Saturday at Hotel Congress to discuss the idea behind the office where potentially new residents could get information on everything from civic engagement to how to start a business.

Rothschild said there's room for citizen groups in welcoming immigrants and refugees, and the city will support them as much as it can, but city lacks the funds to create an office for the integration of immigrants.

"The city just had to cut back significantly in recent years," said Rothschild. The city has been forced to focus primarily on delivering core services, he said.

"We can look at the creation of a commission but there's no funding attached to that," he said.

Rothschild said he agrees with the idea due to Tucson's proximity to the border and the specific needs of immigrants and refugees who are new to the country, "as all of us were at one time."

There are about 80,000 immigrants in Tucson, latest U.S. census figures show.

The City Council passed a resolution in August declaring Tucson an immigrant-welcoming city and created an informal task force to draft goals and policies to present to the council.

Zaragoza moved to Tucson from Sonora 25 years ago and said the integration and assimilation process would have been a lot easier if there had be an entity to guide his family through it.

Zaragoza said he understands the city is working under a tight budget and is aware it might not be able to create the office this year, but said his group wants to raise awareness for its need.

There are several groups that already provide services to immigrants and refugees in Tucson, but Zaragoza said the city's leadership is essential.

"The city is a neutral entity that can work with everybody," he said. "It has a much bigger reach."

On StarNet: Find extensive coverage of immigration issues at azstarnet.com/border

IF YOU GO

• What: Office of immigration information breakfast

• When: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday

• Where: Hotel Congress - Copper Hall, 311 E. Congress

• Cost: $15, includes breakfast, taxes and gratuity

• RSVP: fzaragoza@aol.com

ARIZONA's immigrants

• In 2011, 13.4 percent of the state's total population were immigrants, up from 7.6 percent in 1990.

• 65.3 percent are from Latin America.

• 17.8 percent from Asia.

• 10 percent from Europe.

• The top three countries of birth of immigrants are: Mexico, Canada and Philippines.

Source: Migration Policy Institute

Contact reporter Perla Trevizo at ptrevizo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4213. On Twitter: @Perla_Trevizo

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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