Web portal to list immigrant services

City orders its staff to form task force to create the site
2013-05-30T00:00:00Z Web portal to list immigrant servicesDarren DaRonco Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 30, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Immigrants will soon have a one-stop shop to get in touch with city services.

The City Council directed its staff to create an Immigrant Task Force to tackle all of the issues facing newcomers from other countries.

First on the task force's list will be setting up a Web portal linking immigrants to services available around the city.

When the portal is up and running, immigrants will be directed to housing programs, consulate services, low-income transit programs and more. It's also expected to contain a how-to guide on applying for or accessing certain services.

The task force and Web portal are an outgrowth of the city's resolution last August declaring Tucson an immigrant-welcoming city.

"This resolution committed the city to ongoing immigrant-rights issues," Councilwoman Regina Romero said.

Since then, an informal group of residents has been meeting and discussing what that means and how the city can be as inclusive as possible.

The city doesn't expect the Web portal or the new committee to add any additional costs to the city budget.

The move on Wednesday formalizes a committee that will be made up of city and police officials, immigrant-rights advocates, religious representatives and others.

Councilwoman Karin Uhlich praised the measure as another sign that Tucson is ahead of the curve when it comes to immigrant issues.

"Our proactive position to embrace diversity is a very attractive element and helps set us apart in the state of Arizona," Uhlich said. "It's reinforcing our efforts in economic and quality-of-life development."

The portal will also spur some international business, Councilman Richard Fimbres said.

Fimbres said the portal will allow the city to disseminate information that will benefit its plans to increase commerce with Mexico and beyond.

The portal is also a compromise of sorts. In January, a collection of about 80 individuals and groups submitted a petition to the Mayor's Office asking the city to establish a local Office of Immigration.

According to the petition, the office might offer social service information, driver's license and identification card help, legal assistance and more to "develop the necessary infrastructure for immigrants and refugees to feel welcome and rapidly adapt to their new community as productive and happy denizens."

It pointed to similar agencies in New York and Illinois as possible examples the city could follow.

But since the city lacks the funds to support such an endeavor, Romero proposed the Web portal as an alternative.

Romero said the portal is another step in the right direction to building an immigrant-welcoming city.

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

Contact reporter Darren DaRonco at 573-4243 or ddaronco@azstarnet.com.

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

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