Civic Inclusion and Participation

Definition
Civic inclusion stresses the connection that migrants feel with the larger urban community and which is created by their local involvement with the city. Efforts for civic inclusion in border regions can be made at the neighborhood, metropolitan or even transnational scale.

Challenges
As for political inclusion, many civic inclusion issues are the result of an uncertain or temporary legal status.  Yet, there are other barriers such as language, access to information, and long hours spent working/commuting that inhibit local involvement with the community.

What can be done?
Institutions such as public schools, places of worship, places of work, and various immigrant outreach centers can work collectively to instill a greater sense of civic pride and involvement with the city of residence. International migrants do participate in civic life and could do more if supported by residence-based citizenship that promotes civic engagement. Local authorities should ensure the involvement of migrant communities in urban decision-making processes by establishing channels for representation and participation. Fostering a culture of volunteerism is also an extremely effective way to have different groups come into contact and work together.

Examples of good practice:

Civic Participation and Immigrant Integration, Stuttgart, Germany
Since 2000, central coordination for all integration and diversity-related measures lies with the Department for Integration Policy (Stabsabteilung für Integrationspolitik), which is directly answerable to the Lord Mayor. Administered by the Integration Commissioner, this department develops official policy strategies and concepts. In 2009, the Department began playing a leading role in the ‘Municipal Quality Circle for Integration Policy’ project, funded by the European Integration Fund, which is administered by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF). The aim of the project is to further develop successful integration strategies with practical measures at the municipal level. Its work is also supported by an International Committee (Internationaler Ausschuss), responsible for advising the municipal council and administration on all matters of integration and diversity.

The Alexandria Citizenship Day, Alexandria, Virginia, USA
Each year the City of Alexandria, through the Alexandria Multicultural Services Initiative, joins with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in recognizing newly naturalized United States Citizens through the Annual Citizenship Day ceremony. The City’s event is scheduled during the month of September (to celebrate the National Citizenship Day) and is held in Market Square in Old Town, Alexandria. The Citizenship Day provides an opportunity for diverse communities to celebrate newly naturalized citizens who were born in a foreign country but live and work in the local community, and for local officials and residents to welcome them to the City. New citizens are offered the opportunity to register to vote and to interact with other residents, and to speak with and ask questions to the City’s Multicultural Services Coordinator and the City officials, staff and other local elected officials.

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