Press Release | Welcoming America

Category: Press Release

Welcoming America Urges Congress to Pass the Dream Act Now

| January 16, 2018

Welcoming America calls upon our nation's leaders to stand in fervent support of the Dream Act, and uphold our commitment to the values that are the bedrock of American democracy. Strong leaders in the 21st century recognize that to be American should never be defined by race, religion or country of origin, but by the content of our character and our contributions to our communities and country. Good neighbors treat one another with dignity, whether in communities or on a global stage. In an era of migration, the US should lead by example, drawing on these values to affirm an immigration policy that secures our future as a prosperous and desirable nation to live, do business and engage with the world. 

Today, we call on Congress to protect Dreamers and pass the Dream Act now. Dreamers are a generation of nearly 800,000 young adults who came to the United States as children. They have grown up as Americans, pledging allegiance to our flag, and have worked side by side with all Americans to build a more vital nation. Through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, they have been able to work legally, share their talents, and contribute to the economy without fear of being deported to a country they've never known.

“Every day that Congress delays passage of the Dream Act, 122 young people lose their DACA status jeopardizing their livelihood and the stability of local communities,” said Welcoming America Executive Director David Lubell. “Dreamers are quarterbacks on the local high school football team, nurses in the local clinic, and teachers in the local classroom; communities want Dreamers to stay, and we hope Congress hears these calls.”

One in every eight Americans lives in a community in the Welcoming America network. Small towns and large cities alike are a part of a growing movement of communities becoming more prosperous by helping all residents be able to fully participate in economic, social, and civic opportunities, including immigrants and refugees. If Congress does not pass the Dream Act and shield the hundreds of thousands of young people who came forward under DACA from deportation, the effect on families and the U.S. economy will be devastating. Not protecting Dreamers will result in a loss of $460.3 billion from the national GDP over the next decade. But more importantly, families - the very fabric that ties together community  - will be torn apart, putting a generation of American children in harm’s way. It’s time for Congress to stand with local communities and protect Dreamers by passing the Dream Act once and for all.

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Executive Action undermines our nation’s core values

Welcoming America | January 20, 2017

Our shared prosperity relies on the innovation and creativity of people who come from all over the world, all walks of life, and all faiths and cultural traditions. Providing protection to those seeking safety from violence and persecution is one of our nation’s proudest and longest standing traditions. It represents who we are as a people.

Welcoming America strongly opposes President Trump’s Executive Action that among other things would temporarily suspend the entire U.S. refugee resettlement program and institute extreme vetting for individuals seeking refuge from war-torn countries.

Refugees of many faiths and ethnicities are being welcomed by Americans in communities across the country. They are integrating successfully, and they are contributing economically, civically, and socially to their new homes. These refugees are our coworkers, neighbors, friends, business owners, community leaders, and proud American citizens and voters.

We vehemently oppose any proposal or statements calling for a ban on refugees, as well as discrimination based on religion or nationality. As a nation founded in part by refugees and immigrants, these kind of discriminatory policies dishonor our history, beliefs and values.

This Executive Order will not make us safer. It simply feeds the rhetoric of fear and distrust in the United States, and marginalizes new Americans who want to contribute to their new communities and country. By protecting those whose liberties and lives are at risk, we affirm our values, and we model them for the world at a time when moral courage is sorely needed. The United States has the responsibility to lead with compassion and strength and embody the values that are the fabric of our nation.

Welcoming America stands with our refugee neighbors of all faiths, and we pledge to continue to fight discrimination in all its forms.

We call on members of this Administration and Congress to reverse this announcement.

Take Action

  1. Sign the Petition
    Tell the President that America is a welcoming country and that stopping this program will have profound and detrimental consequences.
  2. Call your U.S. Senators and Representatives to tell them you welcome refugees, and that our country should live up to its values and remaining a welcoming place. Here are ideas of what else you can tell them.
  3. Call and thank your mayor and other local officials who are supporting immigrants and refugees, or urge them to do so.
  4. Support local organizations that help immigrants and refugees. They need your help more than ever. Volunteer, donate, or support a refugee family. Find volunteer opportunities here.

You can help Welcoming America’s efforts to welcome immigrants and refugees by donating today.


Welcoming America leads a growing movement of communities becoming more prosperous by helping all residents be able to fully participate in economic, social, and civic opportunities. Reducing barriers to participation for immigrants and refugees means barriers are reduced for all residents – welcoming helps everyone thrive. One in every eight Americans live in a Welcoming Community through our growing network. Learn more at

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Embassy of Mexico selects David Lubell for Ohtli Award

Deborah Hakes | September 15, 2016

David Lubell, founder and executive director of Welcoming America, has been selected as the 2016 recipient of the Ohtli Award, one of the highest awards given by the Government of Mexico to those who work with the Mexican community abroad. He will be honored as the first non-Hispanic recipient of the prestigious award in Atlanta, Georgia, for efforts to advance prosperity of Latino communities and open pathways that improve quality of life for immigrant population.

Launched in 2009 by Lubell, and based in Decatur, GA, Welcoming America has spurred a growing movement across the United States, with one in every eight Americans living in a Welcoming Community. Lubell is an accomplished social entrepreneur who began his career as an advocacy and organizing director of Latino Memphis. He later founded and became executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, where he helped to found Welcoming Tennessee, the model for what is now Welcoming America. He was named 2015 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and selected to the first Chronicle of Philanthropy 40 Under 40 list of innovative social change leaders in 2016.

The Ohtli Award is given to individuals who have distinguished themselves by dedicating their professional lives to advancing the prosperity of Mexican-American and Latino communities and opening pathways that improve the quality of life of the immigrant population. Ohtli is a Nahuatl word that means "pathway," or “camino” in Spanish. The Institute for Mexicans Abroad, part of the Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, annually grants the Ohtli Award, which consists of a medal, a silver rosette, and a diploma.

The award will be presented on Sept. 20 at the headquarters of the Consulate General of Mexico in Atlanta, as part of the celebrations for the 206 Anniversary of the Independence of Mexico, as well as the Welcoming Week celebrations happening across the United States. Welcoming Week is an annual celebration hosted by Welcoming America that brings together thousands of people at hundreds of local events to celebrate the contributions of immigrants and refugees and the role communities play to foster greater welcome.

 “It is an enormous pleasure for the Mexican Consulate General in Atlanta to deliver the Ohtli Award 2016 to Mr. David Lubell for his outstanding contribution fostering immigrant communities in the United States not only in Tennessee, where he started developing the valuable program of Welcoming Nashville  but also in the rest of the country, for it grew to become Welcoming America, including Atlanta.” stated the Consulate General of México in Atlanta.

“I’m deeply grateful for this honor, which is also a recognition of the growing movement being led by many across the country who recognize that our communities work best when everyone feels welcome,” said David Lubell.

“In a rapidly globalizing world, communities that thrive will be those that address fear and divisiveness at its root, and go beyond tolerance to ensure that people of all backgrounds can fully participate and contribute to broader economic and social vitality. This Welcoming Week, and throughout the year, an every-growing number of communities are choosing to respond in ways that reflect the best of American values -- inviting new neighbors to join meals, creating welcoming policies that encourage things like civic participation and entrepreneurship, and opening the door for more New Americans serve in public office.”

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New fellowship to advance racial equity and immigrant inclusion in eight US communities

Alaina Pitt | August 31, 2016

Contact: Deborah Hakes, [email protected]

ATLANTA - Welcoming America announced today eight recipients of the 2016 SPARK Fellowships to advance racial equity. Selected from a pool of highly competitive applicants of Welcoming America member municipalities and nonprofits, the first class of fellows will participate in a two-year, intensive program on race in their communities to raise awareness of disparities and develop a strategy for change.

“Welcoming America believes that these fellows will make important contributions to closing the gap in racial equity in their communities while also advancing immigrant inclusion,” said David Lubell, Welcoming America founder and Executive Director. “Creating a welcoming place for all residents means helping all residents participate fully and belong. Pew research shows that a majority of Americans believe more needs to be done to achieve racial equity, and efforts such as the SPARK Fellowship will work toward that change.”  

Racial disparities exist across education, income, and housing, among other indicators. As an example, US Department of Education research found that black students as young as four years old face unequal treatment from school administrators.

The fellowship challenges recipients to delve deeper to learn about racial equity and access to justice in their communities and others as they learn linkages among the shared history of race, attitudes about immigration, and economic trends; and they will receive insights and concrete content to champion issues of racial justice in their daily work.

SPARK fellows will receive funding, resources, and guided toolkits to conduct city-to city visits that focus on exposure and analysis of communities through a critical consciousness of race lens. City visits will focus on learning from each community’s low-income housing, incentive programs, immigrant-dense corridors, lowest and/or highest performing schools, and other relevant local options that showcase the local story of access and inclusion over time.

The fellowship is made possible by a two-year grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and it is part of Welcoming America strategy for leadership development to build a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by making everyone who lives there know they belong. Welcoming America’s commitment to thriving communities and intersection includes focusing on five key areas: economic stability, education, social and community context, health and health care, neighborhood and built environment.

The 2016 recipients of the SPARK Fellowship for achieving racial equity include:

Melissa Bertolo, Welcome Dayton Program Coordinator, City of Dayton Human Relations Council

Amy Coffman, Special Assistant to Mayor Berkowitz, Municipality of Anchorage

Patricia Y. Hernández, Senior Attorney, Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc.  

Jazmin Long, Immigrant Integration Specialist, Global Cleveland

Elisa Neira, Executive Director, Princeton Municipality Department of Human Services

Trang Truong, Technical Advisor for Global Initiatives, YMCA of the USA

Ze Min Xiao, Community Innovation Manager and Refugee Liaison, Salt Lake County, Utah

Emily Yaffe, International Relations Specialist, City of Charlotte, Office of International Relations


Welcoming America believes that all people are valued contributors and vital to the success of both our communities and our shared future. Our approach helps strengthen communities as they move beyond divisiveness and fragmentation to a coordinated web of policies and programs that ensure that all residents - including new Americans - can thrive. We partner with more than 100 communities across the United States and are the nonprofit partner to the White House’s Building Welcoming Communities Campaign. Learn more about Welcoming America.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit

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50 cities and counties honored at White House

Welcoming America | June 30, 2016

Local innovations to welcome all residents, including immigrants and refugees, are driving cultural vitality, prosperity, and global competitive edge.

Today more than 50 U.S. cities and counties were honored at the White House for their innovative and proactive efforts to bring all residents into their community fabric. These communities understand that creating a welcoming environment where all can thrive is an imperative now for their survival, prosperity, and global competitive edge, and they are leading the way for the nation in immigrant integration.

These communities are part of the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign, a partnership among The White House Task Force on New Americans, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Welcoming America, a national nonprofit organization with expertise in welcoming efforts, to encourage communities to engage in local immigrant integration efforts.

"Since we launched the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign, cities and counties across the country have answered our call and built coalitions that create welcoming, inclusive communities where all can thrive,” said Cecilia Munoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. “We are pleased to highlight innovative, local efforts and hope others will help us stay true to our core American value of being a place of welcome, where newcomers and established residents work together to build a bright future for all.”

“The local governments being honored today represent the leading edge of a growing movement that recognizes that being more welcoming to all residents, including immigrants, is not only the right thing to do, but smart policy for economic growth and building more cohesive communities,” said Welcoming America Executive Director, David Lubell.

U.S. President Barack Obama has called on these communities to act on a set of principles to build inclusive, welcoming communities that allow all residents to thrive and advance integration efforts in three core areas: civic, economic, and linguistic integration.

The White House also released Bright Spots in Welcoming Communities and Integration, which highlights efforts from several cities and counties. Cities and counties being honored today by The White House include:

  • Atlanta, Georgia: The city has become a national model for how city government, in partnership with business and civic leaders, can create and implement an intentional welcoming plan grounded in its community’s values with an eye towards increasing its competitive edge. Immigrant businesses contribute more than $2.9 billion in annual business revenue to Georgia’s economy.  
  • Dayton, Ohio: Welcome Dayton’s immigrant welcoming approach is a key strategy for building prosperity in a city marked by over 50 years of population decline, which is now being reversed through successful efforts to attract new immigrants. Dayton’s plan has resulted in a 40 percent growth in the immigrant population from 2011-2012 - compared to just seven percent growth for Ohio overall – and has led to thriving business districts and a socially and culturally vibrant city.
  • Los Angeles, California: With an estimated 350,000 lawful permanent residents who are eligible to naturalize living in the city of Los Angeles, under the leadership of Mayor Garcetti, the city is setting the bar for how localities can help residents better their economic prospects by making robust citizenship programming accessible through neighborhood libraries – a practice now being replicated in other cities across the country.
  • Pittsburgh and Alleghany County, Pennsylvania: The region has made welcoming immigrants and refugees a key priority and is a national model for how to incorporate welcoming into an attraction and economic growth strategy.

While immigrant integration starts at the local level, the federal government has a critical role to play in supporting communities to leverage the competitive advantage that comes from creating a welcoming climate, and these efforts must continue beyond the current Administration. The federal government should ensure that host communities are a component of any immigrant integration initiative and that legislation and activities are supported accordingly.

Establishing a White House Office of New Americans, to build on the legacy of the Building Welcoming Communities campaign, is imperative. Such an office is critical to ensure a coordinated response that maximizes resources; leverages interagency and intergovernmental collaboration; and engages both immigrants and receiving communities to create the long-term conditions for successful integration and secure a positive future for all Americans. Read Welcoming America’s vision for a national welcoming strategy.

ACCESS TODAY’S RECORDED PRESS CALL: Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services León Rodríguez, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, and Welcoming America Deputy Director Rachel Peric today offered media a first chance to hear about White House plans to honor them for innovative efforts to welcome immigrants. Listen to the call and Q&A.

CONTACT: Alaina Pitt, Welcoming America, [email protected].


About Welcoming America

Welcoming America is leading a movement of inclusive communities across the nation becoming more prosperous by making everyone who lives there feel like they belong. As communities are reshaped by demographic change, there must be an intentional effort to manage that transformation. Our unique focus is helping communities move beyond divisiveness and fragmentation to a coordinated web of policies and programs that ensure that all residents—including immigrants—can fully participate and belong. We partner with more than 100 communities across the United States and are the nonprofit partner to the White House’s Building Welcoming Communities Campaign. Learn more at

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Hundreds of local leaders affirm commitment to building welcoming communities for all

Welcoming America | April 21, 2016

Growing trend counters divisive political rhetoric, underscored by movement of communities working to ensure all residents - including new Americans - participate, thrive, and belong.

ATLANTA… As the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a landmark case to determine the fate of millions of undocumented Americans and on the heels of the Clinton campaign commitment to establish an Office of Immigrant Affairs, many of the U.S. communities leading the way to create more inclusive communities for all residents, including immigrants and refugees, gathered this week in Atlanta to move the conversation forward.

Local leaders, immigrant experts, and national and federal partners representing 75 of these forward-thinking communities participated in the Welcoming America Interactive on April 19-21 to collaborate innovative ways to welcome and integrate newcomers.

The growing trend of actively welcoming newcomers, counter to divisive rhetoric by some political candidates, shows that immigrant inclusion is thriving at the local level. Welcoming America helps communities to build understanding between host communities and newcomers, so that everyone can participate, thrive, and feel a sense of belonging.

“As American communities continue to grow more diverse, the communities that will thrive in the future are those that celebrate and capitalize on this asset and make sure that all residents can fully participate and thrive,” said David Lubell, founder and executive director of Welcoming America.

Welcoming America’s efforts have been recognized in Germany and Australia, where they are being replicated; delegations from both countries participated in the Welcoming Interactive. Learn more about our international welcoming work.

Key attendees at the Welcoming Interactive included:

  • David Lubell, Founder and Executive Director, Welcoming America
  • Laura Patching, Chief of the Office of Citizenship, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  • Dr. Linda Lopez, Chief, Los Angeles Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • Delegate Sam Rasoul, Eleventh District in Virginia General Assembly House of Delegates
  • Isabel Wilkerson, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns
  • Michelle Maziar, Director, Welcoming Atlanta, Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • Tara Raghuveer, Deputy Director, National Partnership for New Americans

Key tweets from participants:

  • "Integration happens at the local level & it's important 2 build networks between local orgs & the federal gov't." @USCIS #interactive2016
  • "Hate comes out of ignorance. In countering ignorance, we'll be able to build a welcoming America!" [email protected]_Rasoul #Interactive2016
  • "If we look at ppl as a sum of what they don't have then we'll never get to the empowerment lens" @GlobalYMCA #Interactive2016
  • "Democracy is better when everyone participates & everyone is included." #Interactive2016 #NewAmericansInOffice
  • "It's not about drawing lines it's about building bridges." @Isabelwilkerson @WelcomingUSA #Interactive2016
  • "If all human beings could reach their full potential,  what a beautiful planet this would be."- Isabel Wilkerson #Interactive2016

A schedule of keynote addresses and sessions may be found here.

About Welcoming America

Welcoming America is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is leading a movement of inclusive communities across the nation becoming more prosperous by making everyone who lives there feel like they belong. As communities are reshaped by demographic change, there must be an intentional effort to manage that transformation. Our unique focus is helping communities move beyond divisiveness and fragmentation to a coordinated web of policies and programs that ensure that all residents—including immigrants—can fully participate and belong. We partner with more than 100 communities across the United States, we are the nonprofit partner to the White House’s Building Welcoming Communities Campaign, and we are piloting international welcoming efforts in Germany and Australia. Learn how your community can become a more welcoming place:


Deborah Hakes at [email protected]

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Communities to receive support for welcoming New Americans

Welcoming America | March 29, 2016

Twenty Communities Selected for “Gateways for Growth Challenge” to Welcome and Integrate New Americans


New York, NY — Building on the growing desire of civic and business leaders to attract, retain, and integrate immigrants as part of an economic growth strategy, the Partnership for a New American Economy Research Fund (PNAE) and Welcoming America are pleased to announce communities that have been selected as part of the Gateways for Growth Challenge.

Launched in December 2015, Gateways for Growth invited communities across the United States to apply for research, technical assistance, and matching grants to support the development and implementation of multi-sector strategic plans for welcoming and integrating new Americans.

These communities are part of a national trend in which local government, business, and civil society leaders embrace research showing that being inclusive toward immigrants helps cities and counties thrive economically. They are working proactively to ensure an environment where all residents can contribute and succeed.

Of the many communities that applied to the challenge, the following cities were selected:

  • Akron, OH & Summit County
  • Anchorage, AK
  • Birmingham, AL
  • Brownsville, TX
  • Columbus, OH
  • Detroit, MI
  • Fargo, ND
  • Houston, TX
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Kansas City, KS/MO
  • Lancaster, PA
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Macomb County, MI
  • Nashville, TN
  • New Orleans, LA
  • Phoenix, AZ & Arizona State
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • San Jose, CA
  • Salt Lake County, UT
  • Upstate NY Region (Syracuse/Buffalo, NY)

“While Congress fails to enact legislation that would bring the best, brightest, and hardest-working to this country, cities across the United States have recognized the economic contributions immigrants make—as consumers, job creators, and entrepreneurs,” says John Feinblatt, Chairman, Partnership for a New American Economy. “The Gateways for Growth Challenge will help communities develop and implement plans to integrate immigrants into their localities and compete in the global economy.”

“These communities are leaders in the broader and growing trend to be more inclusive, countering the narrative often heard in the mainstream news,” says David Lubell, Executive Director, Welcoming America. “Inclusive economic growth strategies that take into account both U.S. and foreign-born communities make cities more vibrant, attractive places for all residents to live, work, and thrive.”

PNAE and Welcoming America will provide communities selected for Gateways for Growth with one or more of the following:

  • Customized quantitative research reports on the contributions immigrants make to their local economies
  • On-the-ground, technical assistance to help communities draft, execute, and communicate a multi-sector immigrant integration strategy
  • Small planning grants that a local partner has committed to match. 

PNAE and Welcoming America have produced an interactive map showing initiatives across the United States that support immigrant and U.S.-born entrepreneurs, promote citizenship and financial empowerment, improve public safety and access to services, and advance education and workforce goals to help regions compete in the global economy. The map provides detailed information about and examples from the communities that have embraced this work, as well as guidance for those seeking to replicate successful programs and policies.

Complementing the Gateways for Growth Challenge, PNAE and Welcoming America will be working this fall in partnership with EngageNWA, with support from Walmart, to conduct a study on the impact of immigration in the Northwest Arkansas region. The groups will also convene leaders to develop a regional approach to welcoming and integrating immigrant communities as part of a broader strategy for promoting the region as a global community of talent.

About the Partnership for a New American Economy            

The Partnership for a New American Economy brings together more than 500 Republican, Democratic and Independent mayors and business leaders who support immigration reforms that will help create jobs for Americans today. The Partnership’s members include mayors of more than 35 million people nationwide and business leaders of companies that generate more than $1.5 trillion and employ more than 4 million people across all sectors of the economy, from Agriculture to Aerospace, Hospitality to High Tech, and Media to Manufacturing. Partnership members understand that immigration is essential to maintaining the productive, diverse, and flexible workforce that America needs to ensure prosperity over the coming generations. Learn more at

About Welcoming America

Welcoming America is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that is leading a movement of inclusive communities across the nation becoming more prosperous by making everyone who lives there feel like they belong.

As communities are reshaped by demographic change, there must be an intentional effort to manage that transformation. Just as fertile soil is needed for a seed to grow, receptive communities are critical for immigrants to be able to fully participate in the social, civic, and economic fabric of their adopted hometowns. Our unique focus is helping communities move beyond divisiveness and fragmentation to a coordinated web of policies and programs that ensure that all residents—including immigrants—can fully participate and belong. We partner with more than 100 communities across the United States, and we are piloting international welcoming efforts in Germany and Australia. Learn how your community can become a more welcoming place for all:

Partnership for a New American EconomyWelcoming America

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Statement in Response to Belgium and Turkey Attacks

Welcoming America | March 23, 2016

Welcoming America extends its sincere condolences to all victims of attacks in Belgium and Turkey. These horrific incidents aim to instill fear among people of all faiths and races, but we must not succumb to divisive tactics.

We must continue to stand together, and not allow ourselves to be divided as we face threats.

We urge Americans to resist the divisive rhetoric by some politicians to stoke fear and further discrimination. Targeting people based on their faith or ethnicity is wrong, and it goes directly against our values as a country.

It is not acceptable for politicians to divide people against each other in order to use prejudice and fear for their own political advancement.

To keep our families safe, Americans of all backgrounds must stand united and uphold the values that have made our nation strong – and one that embraces diversity as a strength.

We must hold fast as a nation to our values of equality and justice for all, especially in times of crisis.

By working together, we can make sure that our community stands on the better side of history. When we look back 10 or 20 years from now, we will remember that we weren’t hindered by our fears. Instead, we invited diverse new neighbors to join us in building a stronger community, and we all became better for it.

Whether we were born here or not, and no matter who we pray to, what matters most is that we all want the same thing as Americans – the freedom to speak, to pray, and to raise our children with hope. That’s what binds us as a community, as a country. We need to stop thinking in terms of us versus them, and start thinking in terms of just us. If we can do that, we will be able to do so much, together.

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