Northam proclaims June as Immigrant Heritage Month in Virginia
Gov. Ralph Northam has issued a proclamation declaring June as Immigrant Heritage Month in the Commonwealth to celebrate the history, cultures, and contributions of Virginia’s immigrant communities.
Immigrant Heritage Month is observed in June across Virginia and nationwide. Northam issued the following statement and shared a new video message to commemorate the observance.
“We are a nation of immigrants, and our communities are strong because of hard-working individuals striving to create a better life for themselves and their children. During Immigrant Heritage Month, we celebrate the countless ways that immigrants enrich our Commonwealth and our country, as well as our shared future.
“One in eight Virginia residents is an immigrant — they are business owners, health care workers, friends, neighbors, and a critical part of the fabric of our Commonwealth. Our Administration is dedicated to creating a Virginia that is accepting, welcoming, and inclusive of all who chose to call our Commonwealth home. We have placed equity at the center of our agenda, and we have great strides in increasing access to opportunity for our immigrant populations through the historic passage of driver privilege cards, Medicaid expansion, and in-state tuition for all students regardless of citizenship status.
“I urge my fellow Virginians to join us in commemorating Immigrant Heritage Month and exploring the diversity that continues to shape the unique American story.”
During the 2020 General Assembly session, Northam signed legislation creating the Office of New Americans and establishing the Office of New Americans Advisory Board to advise the governor, cabinet members, and the General Assembly on strategies to improve state policies and programs to support the economic, linguistic, and civic integration of new Americans throughout the Commonwealth.
“We are working to ensure that state government policies and practices foster support for new Americans who face institutional barriers to meaningful integration,” said Mona Siddiqui, deputy chief diversity officer and senior policy advisor for the Office of New Americans. “The Governor’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion serves as a liaison between the governor, Office of New Americans, and the Office of New Americans Advisory Board to improve equitable opportunities and foster a sense of belonging to all those who have made their home in Virginia.”
“Our great nation was built upon the determination, talents, and ingenuity of the immigrants who came before us,” said Eric Lin, chair of the Office of New Americans Advisory Board. “This holds true today, as our immigrant communities come and seek the American dream. I applaud Governor Northam for his understanding and uplifting of the valuable potential and contributions that our immigrant communities bring to the Commonwealth.”
Northam also recently wrote a letter urging President Biden to include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented essential workers in the next federal relief package. This change could grant legal status to about 140,000 people living in Virginia.