An incredible honor from the President

This Tuesday, I had the honor of flying on Air Force One with President Obama to Nashville to celebrate the city as an exemplar of what a welcoming

community can achieve.


Let me share some of what the President said during his speech at Casa Azafran in Nashville:


“[L]et me close with the story of somebody who is working to bring people together. David Lubell, who…used to run the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. And he knew that some folks were skeptical about immigrants changing the face of Nashville. And he also knew though that these immigrants were good people. So he saw an opportunity for immigration to unite the city rather than divide it. And in 2005, he started Welcoming Tennessee which connects long-term residents in the community with new immigrants.…And the conversations weren’t always easy. But it created a foundation of mutual understanding and respect. And today, David’s initiative is expanding across the country….This is what makes America exceptional. That we welcome strivers. We welcome DACA from all around the world. And it keeps us young and it keeps us invigorated, and it keeps us thriving. And pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.”


We thank the White House and the President for this incredible recognition. To see the full speech, including the town hall portion, click here: (skip to 9:00 to hear President Obama recognize the welcoming movement).

It is truly an honor when the President recognizes your movement, and we are excited to share in this honor with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition – the creator and home of Welcoming Tennessee – and the thousands of courageous leaders from all sectors of Nashville who have made the city a national model of welcoming, including Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and the Mayor’s Office of New Americans. We also share this recognition with every leader and institution in the U.S. who is working to build greater understanding between immigrants and longtime residents and enact welcoming policies, particularly our numerous non-profit and municipal government members. Our non-profit members, or affiliates, deserve particular recognition, as they have been building our network from the ground up for many years and are true heroes of welcoming.


This recognition lifts us all up. It shows how far we’ve come, and so fast. It was extraordinary to hear the President talking about the need for empathy for those with fears and doubts about immigration and expressing why the simple effort of building bridges with receiving communities matters so much to national and local policy change – and culture change.


Our culture towards immigrants is changing – person by person, community by community. The President continuously highlighted the message of immigrants as assets and as neighbors who can positively transform communities, and this was echoed in the media, such as from the Associated Press, The TennesseanFusionCNNUSA Today, and the LA Times.


Not only was this message delivered on a national stage – but it’s about to be codified for the first time in national policy. As part of the actions taken several weeks ago, the President released a memorandum, Creating Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees. It calls for the creation of a White House Task Force on New Americans, an interagency effort to identify and support state and local integration efforts. This memo was made possible in partnership with the National Partnership for New Americans and many of you. Not only does this step set in motion the country’s first comprehensive federal immigration strategy, but it is the first time that a country has highlighted receiving communities and the role of local initiatives as a central part of its immigration approach. This will help invigorate efforts across all levels of government, leading to greater scale and impact in integration work throughout the country.


This is just the beginning, and we look forward to continuing this momentum with you to make our nation a truly welcoming one where immigrants are embraced and thriving. Welcoming America is a movement, an ideal for our country to live up to, and I hope you are as proud as I am to be a part of it.


My heartfelt thanks,


David Lubell

Executive Director

Welcoming America