More than 50 U.S. cities and counties were honored at the White House on Thursday, for their work in creating inclusive and welcoming communities that engage in local immigrant integration efforts. The localities honored 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.

“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 White House also released Bright Spots in Welcoming Communities and Integration, which highlights efforts from several cities and counties including:

  • Dayton, Ohio’s Welcome Dayton initiative which 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, is making citizenship programming accessible through neighborhood libraries – a practice now being replicated in other cities across the country.
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania launched 30 Neighbors-30 Days, a storytelling campaign to raise awareness of the city’s growing diversity and its positive impact to their communities.

While immigrant integration starts at the local level, the federal government has a critical role to play in supporting communities that create 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.

Photo by mr_wahlee.

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