Pennsylvania Democratic state lawmakers and immigrant advocates are calling for a new office to attract immigrants to the Commonwealth and help them once they arrive.
House Bill 2173 would establish an office that would act as an “information clearinghouse” for and about immigrants.
It would review trends in immigrant communities, direct language resources, provide matching grants for business owners and provide policy suggestions for new arrivals.
Democratic Rep. Sara Innamorato of Allegheny County is the lead author of the measure.
“The creation of this office signals that we are doing everything we can to provide a welcoming and supportive home for our new neighbors,” she said Wednesday during a news conference.
The proposal is companion legislation to a similar one in the Senate — introduced more than a year ago. Neither bill has any Republican co-sponsors.
Mike Straub, spokesman for the Republican House Caucus, did not respond to questions if GOP lawmakers would move on the bill and why neither Democratic bill has support across the aisle.
The number of immigrants living in Pennsylvania has grown over the past decade from around 4% to nearly 8%, according to U.S. Census estimates.
Steven Larin, deputy director with the nonprofit Nationalities Services Center, said having a central place to help guide immigrants will boost their contributions to the economy and culture.
“People are looking to build their new life,” he said. “People are looking to start businesses, people are looking for opportunities to work, and they need to find a place, right – if you weren’t connected to an organization, in your region, in your city, that work gets harder to do to get that information.”
Amy Eusebio, Philadelphia Office of Immigrant Affairs, said she thinks a central statewide office would meet needs that many immigrants face.
“It is important for us to be very intentional about including and integrating them,” Eusebio said. “An office of New Pennsylvanians would really be significant in driving that.”