Submitted by Faruk Mohammed, OIA’s Immigrant Capacity Building VISTA
On September 21, 2021, the Mayor of Philadelphia Jim Kenney, signed Executive Order (EO) 5-21. This EO officially reestablished the Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs within the Office of Immigrant Affairs (OIA) for the City of Philadelphia.
Mayor Kenney signed the EO outside City Hall and the event was attended by notable figures within city government including former Mayor John Street, who was mayor when the Commission was originally established in 2005. Speeches and remarks were given by Mayor Kenney, Mayor Street, Managing Director Tumar Alexander and leaders of the African and Caribbean communities within Philadelphia. The population growth in Philadelphia is largely due to an increase in immigration. In Philadelphia, the number of African and Caribbean immigrants has grown rapidly with the number of African immigrants increasing at the fastest rate, more than doubling in number between 2000 and 2016.
Also, immigrants from Haiti and Jamaica are the 5th and 7th largest immigrant groups respectively in Philadelphia (The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2018). The signing of the executive order reaffirmed the important role that the Commission plays in ensuring that there is a system in place and people in power to address the needs of African and Caribbean communities in Philadelphia. Being The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection means that Philadelphia must have the tools and resources to welcome those who need help and or seek refuge.
Some of the key functions of the Commission are:
- To encourage the development and implementation of City-sponsored policies and programs focused on improving the social, economic, political, educational, cultural, and general well-being of African and Caribbean immigrants, refugees, and asylees.
- To assist African and Caribbean-led organizations in achieving self-sufficiency, developing partnerships with City agencies, and creating access to City resources.
- To provide a forum that focuses on bringing Africans, Caribbeans, and all people of the African Diaspora together to affect policy improvements and changes
Call for Interest: Mayor’s Commission on African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs
The role of the Mayor’s Commission of African and Caribbean Immigrant Affairs is to advise the Mayor on policies and programs to improve the lives of African and Caribbean immigrants, refugees and asylees. The Commission, chaired by former Councilwoman Jannie L. Blackwell, has up to 25 positions for Commissioners who will be appointed by the Mayor and City Council President, as per the executive order. Commissioners will serve without compensation. To ensure the Commission is inclusive and provides an opportunity for many to be involved, it also allows for people to serve as Committee members. Committee members may contribute to one or more committees and provide input on issues within their community. Commissioners will be appointed by the Mayor to serve in a formal role and take responsibility for the outcomes of the commission. The Commission also seeks to have parity of African and Caribbean Commissioners. OIA and the leadership of the Commission are now accepting applications for Commissioners. Interested parties should complete this brief application by January 15, 2022 in order to be considered for a formal role.
If you have questions about the application, please contact Faruk Mohammed, in the Office of Immigrant Affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org.