The Plan to Establish an Office of New Americans in Maine
On Aug. 3, 2023, Governor Janet Mills signed an Executive Order (PDF) directing her Administration to develop a plan to establish an Office of New Americans in Maine State government.
The Executive Order directed GOPIF to work with stakeholders – including other State agencies, municipalities, schools and colleges, employers, community-based organizations, and the immigrant, refugee, and asylum-seeking communities – to create a plan for the establishment of the new office to be delivered to the Governor by January 19, 2024.
This plan was delivered to Governor Mills consistent with her executive order. It outlines the mission and structure of the office, the timing of its establishment, and the scope of its work, with the overarching goal of ensuring that Maine is effectively incorporating immigrants into its workforce and communities to strengthen the economy over the long-term.
Throughout the fall of 2023, the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and Future undertook an extensive stakeholder outreach effort to solicit input on the ONA plan, which included over 100 meetings with more than 800 individuals from every county in Maine representing municipalities, schools and colleges, employers, chambers of commerce, community-based organizations, and immigrant communities.
Under the plan, the Office of New Americans (ONA) would be charged with “making Maine a home of opportunity for all, by welcoming and supporting immigrants to strengthen Maine’s workforce, enhance the vibrancy of Maine's communities, and build a strong and inclusive economy.” The plan calls for an office of four people and the creation of an advisory council of 19 to advise ONA on matters related to the long-term economic and civic integration of immigrants in Maine.
The plan also proposes that ONA focuses on strengthening English-language acquisition opportunities, building workforce pathways and support for entrepreneurs, improving coordination of organizations and entities that support immigrants, including communities, schools, and employers, engaging in federal immigration policies to benefit Maine, and improving Maine’s data about its immigrant populations.
The Governor’s Executive Order also directs GOPIF to participate in the Office of New Americans State Network, a consortium of U.S. states with dedicated offices or staff for coordinating immigrant integration. The Network is coordinated by a partnership of two organizations, World Education Services and the American Immigration Council. Maine is the 19th state in the Network, following North Dakota and Utah in 2023.
For inquiries about the plan, or for more information about translations or other language supports, please contact us.