June is Immigrant Heritage Month, and given the shrill and often negative rhetoric we hear around immigration, it seems more important than ever to take time to appreciate our immigration history and what newcomers bring to our nation and our lives.

Though our country’s roots can be largely traced back to successive generations of immigrants, many of today’s federal immigration policies ignore and do a disservice to that history.

However, there are bright spots, as state and local governments increasingly pursue immigration policies and initiatives that integrate immigrants and capitalize on the new energy they bring to local communities.

Additionally, a growing number of communities have adopted welcoming policies where local governments and community groups work to devise innovative programs and policies that help immigrants integrate into the fabric of the city, and, in return, become more productive community members.

Interestingly, some of the states welcoming and benefitting from immigration now were once struggling with the issue, even passing punitive immigration enforcement policies. However, many are rethinking their old exclusionary policies and are reaping the benefits as a result.

Many of these welcoming cities are also participating in Immigrant Heritage Month activities as another way to bring neighbors together. Through events across America, communities will celebrate the contributions that immigrants have made and continue to make to our nation.

This type of community building that local communities are taking on is powerful.

Through Immigrant Heritage Month, Welcome.US is reminding all of us to explore our own immigrant heritage, and the diversity that comes from being a nation of immigrants.

Photo by Courtney Hedger