On Friday, the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives announced the establishment of the Office of Immigrant Affairs to better promote English language programs, strengthen access to career options, and assist with paths to U.S. citizenship.
The new office is statutorily required by SB 85, which passed in the 2021 legislative session. Lorena Rivera, the current director of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives Commission on Hispanic Affairs, will serve as director of the Office of Immigrant Affairs. Rivera oversaw the 2020 U.S. Census effort in Maryland, including four state Area Census Offices in Hanover, Hagerstown, Baltimore City, and Towson.
“I am honored to be appointed as director for this new office, where we will work to increase access to resources that support transitioning immigrants into American society,” said Rivera. “We will connect state agencies, coordinate with our ethnic commissions, and fight for fair treatment of those who choose to call Maryland home.”
According to a Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives press release, the new Office of Immigrant Affairs has the following responsibilities:
- Establish a network of neighborhood-based opportunity centers
- Increase access to programs that teach the English language
- Connect immigrants with job training and employment referral services
- Decrease exploitation of immigrant communities, including support of the Asian American Hate Crimes Workgroup established by Governor Hogan
- Establish a toll-free, multilingual hotline and website
- Coordinate with state agencies that provide services to immigrants