Office of New Americans and Immigrant Communities


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Terence O’Neill directs the Office of New Americans and Immigrant Communities. Bringing together Houston's uniquely-diverse international community, O'Neill's team promotes their well-being and connectedness and facilitates their successful civic, and cultural integration in Houston.

He helped initiate the City’s first language access program, the City’s first wage theft ordinance, the Houston Police Department’s first human trafficking unit; he expanded the size and scope of Citizenship Month, held the City’s first ever Mayor’s State of the Refugee Community Breakfast, and initiated other projects that have enhanced Houston’s reputation as an international city.

He was recently was tapped by the Special Assistant to the President for Immigration Policy to host a White House Regional Convening at City Hall for the purpose of increasing resources and collaborative efforts in Houston that improve services to the immigrant community.  The President honored the Office of New Americans at the White House in June 2016 for its work to improving the quality of life for immigrant communities in Houston.

His work has been featured in Governing Magazine, the Houston Chronicle, Monocle Magazine, and several academic publications.  He was recently nominated for the University of Houston’s Master of Public Administration Public Official of the Year Award (2016). He studied philosophy at the University of Houston-Downtown and is pursuing a master's degree from Rice University.

Benito Juarez oversees immigrant and refugee affairs for the city of Houston.  Originally from Guatemala, he has served as the city’s expert on immigration issues for three Houston mayors.  Prior to working for the city, Juarez was an active member of community organizations advocating for immigrant and refugee rights.

Juarez oversaw that creation of the Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs (MOIRA) in 2001 as well as the Mayor’s Advisory Committee on Immigrant & Refugee Affairs (MACIRA) which is a diverse group of community representatives and stakeholders engaged in immigrant and refugee issues.

Juarez leads the city’s citizenship efforts including citizenship educational forums and other activities and events that raise awareness on issues affecting immigrant populations.  He oversees one of Houston’s most popular signature events, Citizenship Week, which attracts thousands of participants each year.

In his spare time, Juarez enjoys reading and staying current on world events.  He is married and has one daughter.