Global Conversation with Miriam Enriquez, Director of Immigrant Affairs

Miriam Enriquez is no stranger to city government. She began her career a Prosecutor for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and after seven years as a prosecutor, she moved on to City Council where she served as the Directory of Policy and Legislation for Councilman O’Brien.

Last year Mayor-Elect Kenney introduced her to Philadelphia as the newest member of his administration. Three months into her tenure as Director of Immigrant Affairs, Enriquez speaks to Global Philadelphia and reflects on her goals and challenges thus far.

Three months into your role as director of immigrant affairs, what has been the most challenging for you?

I think the most challenging part of this position is listening to the myriad of problems and challenges that face our city’s immigrant community and understanding the reality that no matter how hard we work, you will not be able to fix every single problem.

Also, there are so many great people in our city that are doing great things, I want to collaborate with all of them, but that is not always possible due to time or other competing priorities.

Have your goals changed at all?

I wouldn’t say they have changed, but I would say they have become more realistic—taking time and resources into account, we need to set realistic goals of what we can accomplish the first year and for the first term.

Last year, Philadelphia was designated as a World Heritage City. What does it mean for you to be working in a city with such a title.

This is an incredible designation for Philadelphia. We are the first and only (for now) world heritage city. This designation really reflects the varied identity of our city, and identity that immigrants play a large role in.

The mayor announced plans for a Philadelphia World Cup this coming fall, do you think it will unite Philly in a special way?

Philadelphia is a city with a diverse immigrant community. A community we are proud of. This tournament will be a great way for our immigrant communities to celebrate their pride in their home country, while at the same time- celebrating their pride in their new home—Philadelphia. Mayor Kenney knows, as many of us global fans do as well, that soccer or futbol is an international language that unites. The office of immigrant affairs is proud to play a role in making what began as an idea for the Mayor a reality.

What do you think it means to be a Global citizen in Philadelphia?

I think a global citizen is one who recognizes that our shared connections of humanity, regardless of nationality and ethnicity, is more important than what divides us, but that recognizing those differences and finding ways to bridge them is good for our society and other societies throughout the world.”

What does it mean to you that Philadelphia is such a diverse city?

It means a lot. I would hope that it means people from all over the world can come here and feel welcome. That whoever comes here can see that we are truly a melting pot. A city that respects our past, a city that has always welcomed immigrants and continues to welcome all people regardless of where you come from.