Upwardly Global Applauds “First Steps” from Biden-Harris Administration in Rolling Back Public Charge and Building Federal-Level Supports for Immigrant Inclusion
February 2, 2021—The Biden-Harris Administration today outlined steps to establish a White House Task Force on New Americans and build humane, orderly, and streamlined systems that champion the inclusion of immigrants, refugees, and asylees in our workforce and communities. Included in today’s executive orders is a call for a comprehensive review of “Public Charge” rules expanded under the previous administration to penalize immigrants who temporarily accept public benefits.
Jina Krause Vilmar, president and CEO, issued the following statement in response to today’s executive actions:
“Over 20 years, Upwardly Global has supported more than 18,000 immigrant professionals—including refugees and asylum seekers—in rebuilding careers in the U.S. These individuals come from diverse backgrounds, but share a common journey: They experience hardship and hit hurdles when they first come to this country. Yet when given the opportunity, they succeed and contribute in meaningful, tangible ways.
Today’s Executive Orders outline encouraging actions in removing barriers and championing the skills, experience, and promise of immigrants in this country. Upwardly Global applauds these first steps, and encourages the Biden-Harris Administration to fully develop these initiatives by establishing a permanent White House Office of New Americans and by fully rescinding the Trump-era expansion of Public Charge rules.
The story of Au, a market analyst from Vietnam who came to the U.S. in 2016, illustrates what is possible when individuals are supported on pathways to opportunity and inclusion. Au immigrated to reunite with her husband in California, with ambitions to rebuild her career in the Bay Area. The couple survived on his minimum-wage salary until they received surprise news: Au was pregnant. With temporary access to Medicaid, Au was supported through her pregnancy and delivered a healthy baby boy. Today, after going through Upwardly Global’s coaching program, Au is back to work as an analyst, earning a six-figure salary and giving back to her community in myriad ways.
In 2020, Upwardly Global program alumni—people like Au—earned an average salary of nearly $60,000 and contributed millions in state and local taxes. They work in essential sectors, including roles in healthcare, IT, and logistics, supporting our fight against COVID-19 and our nation’s long-term economic vitality. Their stories demonstrate what is possible if we can scale immigrant inclusion at a federal level.
Yet their stories also illustrate what our country has missed amidst a limited federal infrastructure for immigrant inclusion and Public Charge rules that stymie their contributions. Before entering our program, 85 percent of Upwardly Global participants—people like Au—hit systemic barriers to rebuilding their careers, and were unemployed or underemployed. A 2018 survey demonstrated that 61 percent of our program alumni could have been vulnerable to Public Charge tests based on their household incomes alone.
Today’s Executive Orders mark encouraging first steps in addressing these hurdles to immigrant inclusion. We look forward to continuing to partner with the Biden-Harris Administration building a workforce and country where everyone can fully contribute and thrive.”
- Link to Upwardly Global’s policy priorities for the Biden-Harris administration.
- Link to Upwardly Global’s 2018 comment on Public Charge
About Upwardly Global
Founded in 2000, Upwardly Global is the first and longest-serving organization focused on advancing the inclusion of immigrant and refugee professionals into the U.S. workforce. Upwardly Global’s innovative skill-building and networking programs coach internationally trained professionals in rebuilding professional careers and U.S. employers in accessing their talents with inclusive hiring practices. To date, Upwardly Global has trained nearly 18,000 people, adding millions to the economy each year. Learn more at www.upwardlyglobal.org.