MILFORD >> Milford Speaks Out advocacy group is celebrating immigrants with its first Thanks for Coming!! award.

Dave Duffner, who is on the MSO Immigration Committee, said the award is “an effort to create a unifying approach.”

The group is taking nominations through Sept. 15; the winner will be announced in November.

Forms are available on bulletin boards at City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, Milford Public Library, the Senior Center and the Parsons Government Center.

A form can also be obtained by emailing dlduffner@yahoo.com.

Duffner said the award will recognize the service of immigrants, provide role models, and inform people of immigrants’ achievements.

REQUIREMENTS

Duffner said the award is open to foreign-born Americans with a Milford connection.

Nominees must have made a substantial contribution to the health, civic or economic life of Milford or, while a resident of Milford made a significant contribution to the civic, cultural, social, economic, health, family or educational life of the state or nation.

The award will be presented on a day near Thanksgiving that will be proclaimed “Immigration Day” in Milford, he said.

Candidates must have been in the country at least 10 years — they need not be continuous — and a naturalized citizen, or have formally applied for U.S. citizenship, according to the application form.

DRAFT PROCLAMATION

The proclamation is not complete, but a rough draft quotes the Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal and … endowed with … unalienable rights … Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” Duffner wrote in an email.

He said it may also mention the words on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Duffner said the draft says: “Immigration provided the labor and energy to build our transportation systems, to populate our farms, to fill our factories and, in turn, to consume our goods and services and to defend our country.

“The inspirations and innovations from first-generation immigrants from Alexander Hamilton to David Sarnoff to Albert Einstein to Madeleine Albright to Yo-Yo Ma to Sergey Brin increased the prosperity, education and security of all Americans,” he said.

It conveys that the immigrants’ “cultural practices, religious beliefs, artistic achievements, and charitable works influenced and modified the American experience and, in turn, were themselves modified by their encounter with daily American life.”

Mayor Ben Blake said that since November is a few months away, no proclamation has been formally drafted.

But Blake said he’ll likely highlight that “Thanksgiving Day is one of America’s most beloved and widely celebrated holidays — whether descendants of the original Colonists or new residents, we all join with family and friends to give thanks for the blessings of freedom, peace and plenty.”

SANCTUARY CITY

MSO researched months ago having Milford designated as a “sanctuary city,” but found that unnecessary after discussions with the police chief, who said the state and city already have strong laws protecting undocumented workers.

MSO steering committee members said at the time in a press release that they explored the issue, because of “increased detentions and deportations of undocumented immigrants by the federal government.”

In May, MSO presented a talk by a Muslim couple to help counter stereotypes and misperceptions.