Why I’ll be in Nashville today

Update 2: Watch the full town hall below or go to minute 9 to listen to President Obama speak about David Lubell and the Welcoming America movement. Read the transcript here


Update: We are so honored that our movement was recognized by the President during his visit to Nashville! A special shout out goes out to Mayor Karl Dean, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, and all who have helped make Welcoming Tennessee and the welcoming movement a reality.


Today, I’m in Nashville with the President and community leaders to celebrate the city’s story of redemption. As a new gateway for immigrants, Nashville saw its community change quickly, like so many other American cities and towns. When I launched Welcoming Tennessee with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) in 2006, we worried that growing fears and concerns about that change would prevail. Instead, the work of many civic, business, and community leaders have helped set Nashville on a different course. From Mayor Karl Dean to TIRRC and the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative, along with Nashville for All of Us and the many groups within it, Nashville represents the best of what can be achieved when a community comes together. Now, Nashville has remade itself into a more inclusive place, one that embraces and welcomes the city’s growing diversity – and has reaped the economic benefits. Nashville’s story is the story of America – a country that is grappling with whether to embrace immigrants. Nashville’s story reminds us that there is a positive way forward for all communities, as well as a more inclusive and prosperous future for those like Nashville that seize the opportunity to become more welcoming. <span “>“We’ve worked hard to create in this city an example of what it means to truly welcome New Americans….Diverse communities are the ones that have the best chances to thrive in today’s world, and Nashville is proud to be one.”  

The birthplace of Welcoming America and a model that we are now replicating nationwide, Nashville has been a tremendous catalyst for nationwide change. It has inspired a locally-led welcoming movement by towns, cities, and counties across the country that see immigrants as an essential asset.


As American communities wrestle with whether to embrace their growing diversity, Nashville’s success and recognition today reminds us that there is a way to move our communities forward and that American cities thrive when diverse people from around the world feel valued and want to put down roots.


Today’s visit by the President also celebrates the fact that all immigration is local. The President’s recent memorandum on Creating Welcoming Communities and Fully Integrating Immigrants and Refugees represents a historic federal commitment to local integration. It recognizes the leadership of communities in immigrant welcome and the need for integration efforts like those in Nashville. <span “>”With the number of foreign-born residents more than doubling over the past decade, Nashville has actively worked to welcome new Americans. Through community-based programs and government initiatives, the city is empowering and engaging New American community leaders. And the city’s actions are paying off.”

– Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary President Obama to Give Immigration Speech in Nashville

That’s why I’ll be joining the President and Nashville leaders today to recognize Nashville’s success and to celebrate all of the unsung leaders across the country who are making their communities more welcoming ones.


David Lubell

Executive Director, Welcoming America