Immigrant Integration


Communities all over the nation are learning the difference between immigration policy and immigrant integration policy. The federal government has a responsibility to regulate how people come to and stay in this country. Meanwhile, local community leaders have a responsibility to ensure that all residents enjoy civic participation and economic success, regardless of where they are born.

When local governments consider how to engage new immigrant communities, some are tempted to compensate for the federal government’s failure to adequately regulate immigration. Punitive polices are designed to make life more difficult for certain immigrants, with the hopes that some may choose to leave. Unfortunately, such efforts often result in costly, unintended consequences for the city as a whole, and risk alienating entire sectors of the community.

TIRRC works with local communities in Tennessee to focus instead on immigrant integration, the two–way process by which new immigrants learn to fully participate in their new communities and receiving community members begin to broaden their sense of identity to make room for these new residents. 



Click here to learn more about TIRRC's Citizenship Program where we help eligible immigrants through the naturalization process..

Click here to learn more about TIRRC's Civic Engagement Work where we work with New Americans to engage in the civic process. 

Click here to learn more about TIRRC's Welcoming Tennessee Initiative where we work with receiving communities in Tennessee to welcome our newest residents. 


Latest News:


TIRRC Director, Stephen Fotopulos on Welcoming TN and Immigrant Integration


TIRRC Earns National Award for Exceptional Immigrant Integration Initiatives

WASHINGTON – The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) on Wednesday announced the four winners of its inaugural E Pluribus Unum national awards for exceptional immigrant integration initiatives, with an innovative Tennessee-based public education and communications campaign receiving a $50,000 prize.

The E Pluribus Unum Prizes program, established by MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policywith generous support from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, seeks to inspire others to take on this important work and encourage the adoption of effective integration practices.

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalitionand the three other E Pluribus Unum Prize winners will be honored tonight at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress featuring remarks by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and other national policymakers. The winners were selected from more than 500 applications received from around the nation.

Against a backdrop of changing demographics common to Tennessee and other “new destination” states (with a more than 300 percent growth in its immigrant population over 15 years), the organization launched its Welcoming Tennessee Initiative (WTI) in 2006, to foster constructive public dialogue on immigration within the state. WTI was designed to increase public understanding of the realities of immigration, situating the recent demographic changes in a broader historical context and trying to constructively engage the public in areas where they have concerns.

"The Welcoming Tennessee Initiative stands out as a positive, creative way to have a constructive, mutually enriching dialogue between the native-born members of the state and its newest members – with the goal of creating stronger, more vibrant communities for everyone,” said MPI Senior Vice President Michael Fix, co-director of the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. “And it is serving as a model for community leaders in other new destination states.”

Said TIRRC’s Executive Director Stephen Fotopulos: “The impact of the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative is clear: Members of communities receiving immigrants are more likely to respond to the challenges of immigration with empathy rather than distrust or fear, decision-makers are given the political room to pursue proactive policies, and immigrants feel welcomed and encouraged to participate and contribute.”

Click to read more ...