From the Halls of Government to the Heart of Communities, National Welcoming Week Celebrates and Uplifts Immigrants | Welcoming America

From the Halls of Government to the Heart of Communities, National Welcoming Week Celebrates and Uplifts Immigrants

Keiron Bone Dormegnie | October 2, 2014

This National Welcoming Week, communities across the country – rural and urban, large and small – stepped up to celebrate and integrate immigrants. From substantial policy changes to exciting events, Welcoming Week marked a watershed moment for our country.

Mayors and Communities Announce Major Welcoming Policy Initiatives

During Welcoming Week, four Welcoming Cities – Atlanta, Baltimore, Nashville, and Detroit – took huge leaps forward in their path to welcoming immigrants. These steps are not just symbolic gestures embracing newcomers – they are also momentous shifts in governmental and institutional policy that will tangibly improve the lives of immigrants.
 
In Atlanta, Georgia – which has the second fastest-growing foreign-born population of any metro area in the U.S., second only to Baltimore – Mayor Kasim Reed and the Welcoming Atlanta Working Group announced that the City of Atlanta will implement 20 policies and programs to foster a welcoming environment for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, or place of origin.
 
Baltimore, Maryland also celebrated with Mayor Stephanie Rawling-Blake’s announcement that the city will implement new efforts to attract and retain immigrants. To kick these efforts off, the city released a report on the role immigrants play in growing the city, as well as a video series celebrating Welcoming Week.
 
The birthplace of the Welcoming movement, Nashville, Tennessee, continues to lead the country, announcing last week the creation of a Mayor’s Office of New Americans, a successful example of the power of government-nonprofit collaboration that is at the root of our work. We commend Mayor Karl Dean and the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) for this momentous step forward.
 
Welcoming Week also saw the addition of two new cities to the Welcoming Cities and Counties cohort. Detroit, Michigan made their announcement during a panel featuring the Mayor, City Council, and our partner Welcoming Michigan. We also honor Anchorage, Alaska, which became the first Welcoming City outside of the contiguous U.S. during Welcoming Week.

Communities Celebrate Immigrants and Their Contributions

The power of ordinary residents to come together to celebrate, uplift, and welcome immigrants was never more apparent than during National Welcoming Week, which featured over 250 events in 27 states attracting over 13,000 participants. From coast to coast, community members created a surround sound of welcome to celebrate foreign-born neighbors through inspiring events. Among them:

These remarkable events attracted widespread media attention, from the Fresno Bee, to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, to the Charlotte Observer, to WJZ CBS Baltimore. Our message was only further disseminated through compelling pieces from Emerson Collective and Legacy Cities, which highlighted the big picture, long-term impact of the welcoming movement.

Thank you to all who participated in National Welcoming Week!

As parting words, we’d like to share with you a message from award-winning author Luis Alberto Urrea, who spoke recently at the Atlanta History Center:

* Photos captions, left to right: Community picnic in Lexington, Kentucky hosted by Kentucky Refugee Ministries and Seedleaf. Photo credit: Steve PaveyWelcoming Atlanta Working Group in Atlanta, Georgia at the National Center for Civil and Human RightsQuilting event in Omaha, Nebraska, hosted by Nebraska Is Home and the Quilted Conscience ProjectWall of welcoming in Los Angeles, California at an event hosted by Skirball Cultural Center and Immigrant NationFriendship Picnic in Montgomery County, Maryland, hosted by Human Rights Commission and Committee on Hate / Violence, the Faith Community Working Group, and the Office of Community Partnerships


Continue the celebration during 2015 National Welcoming Week – join us September 12-20, 2015!

Leaders Say, "Immigrants Make Us Stronger"

“As Atlanta positions itself to be a global leader, attracting and retaining talent is imperative. The Welcoming Atlanta initiative builds upon the existing priorities for the city – public safety, welfare, economic development, civic engagement, and education – and in so doing, will not only create an environment that is welcoming to new arrivals, but a stronger community for all Atlantans." - Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

"Baltimore's success is, in part, contingent upon ensuring that everyone has an equitable stake in their communities. If we want to grow our city, we must be receptive to all cultures and have a mutual understanding of what they represent. In Baltimore, we seek to create an environment where all cultures, ethnicities, and races feel welcomed and that everyone can call home." - Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

“Detroit’s immigrants historically played a key role in making the city one of the greatest in the world, and immigrants continue to play a key role in supporting the city….It is important to do what we can within local government to support current and future immigrants to foster the growth of a diverse, inclusive, global Detroit.” - Detroit Council Member Raquel Castañeda-López

“We are a stronger city, enriched with greater cultural and economic opportunity, when we create avenues that are accessible and welcoming to all of our residents — whether they have lived here for generations or are migrating to Pittsburgh for the very first time.” - Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto

"The East Lansing-[Michigan State University] community has long embraced its community members from across the globe and is committed to continuing to build a welcoming, all-inclusive environment for international residents and American-born residents alike." - East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett

[To immigrant residents] “Thank you for your sacrifices and reminding those of us born here what we have, and we sometimes take for granted. We need you. We need your efforts. We need your thoughts. We need your voice.” - Mecklenberg Co. Commissioners Chairman Trevor Fuller

Thank You to Our National Partners

In addition to our partners on-the-ground, a big shout-out goes out to all our national partners, who helped drum up and sustain excitement and energy around the week: 

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