The full integration of immigrants, particularly the large number of poor immigrants, is both an opportunity and a challenge for our nation. Most are going to be here for the long haul. We can also say with certainty that they will be numerous.
Will they be undercompensated, undereducated, and in time resigned to second class status? Or will they be educated, productive, and a source of youthful energy for every institution in American Society? Either way, they will move the needle of national progress in one direction or the other.
While our political leaders focus on a workable legal framework for a successful immigration policy, I believe our nation, through our educational, social, and economic institutions, will be called to work smarter and in even greater partnership and create programs that foster the full integration of immigrants into American Society. And, although countless nonprofit institutions work tirelessly to affect positively the immigrant experience, the desire and commitment must also come from within the immigrant population – it must include people, like me, who’s family immigrated and became United States citizens generations ago as well as undocumented immigrant families who have come more recently.
The Cisneros Center was established to develop a “road map” to empowering immigrants as they strive to fully integrate into American Society. We will harness the collective knowledge and expertise of our fellow practitioners and leverage partnerships with key civic, academic, and corporate stakeholders.
We embolden and equip the next generation of motivated young professionals to be our nation’s “boots on the ground” in communities as they work to catalog, articulate and help address the gaps and barriers that keep immigrant communities and families from achieving the American Dream.
Just as the “piece meal” approach to immigration policy is not a long-term solution, neither is the “piece-meal” approach to immigrant integration. Our efforts must be comprehensive and our resolve unwavering if we are to empower immigrants to achieve the American Dream.
Today, I invite you to learn more about the Cisneros Center mission and objectives and I offer my sincere appreciation for your future active participation in this critical work.
Henry Cisneros, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton, founded the Cisneros Center to ensure that every immigrant family has the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.
Secretary Cisneros’ community-building career began at the local level. In 1981, Secretary Cisneros became the first Hispanic-American mayor of a major U.S. city (San Antonio, Texas). In 1984, Secretary Cisneros was interviewed by the Democratic Presidential nominee as a possible candidate for Vice President of the United States and in 1986 was selected as the “Outstanding Mayor” in the nation by City and State Magazine.
In 1992, President Clinton appointed Secretary Cisneros to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. As a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet, Secretary Cisneros was credited with initiating the revitalization of many of the nation’s public housing developments. After leaving HUD in 1997, Secretary Cisneros was president and chief operating officer of Univision Communications, the Spanish-language broadcaster which has become the fifth-most-watched television network in the nation. Secretary Cisneros currently serves on Univision’s Board of Directors. Secretary Cisneros has served in a variety of leadership positions in the public and private sectors. These organizations include the National League of Cities, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Broad Foundation, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity International.
Secretary Cisneros holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from Texas A&M University. He earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University, studied urban economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, holds a Doctorate in Public Administration from George Washington University, and has been awarded more than 20 honorary doctorates from leading universities. He served as an infantry officer in the United States Army. Secretary Cisneros is married to Mary Alice P. Cisneros, who from 2007–2011 served on San Antonio’s City Council and they have three children – Teresa, Mercedes, and John Paul – and four grandchildren.