Co-authors: Micaela McConnell, Paloma Ramos

“Don’t forget about us,” is the cornerstone message that will be amplified across the United States this fall as Little Amal, a 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl, begins her 6,000-mile journey to 35 different communities. Little Amal represents a message of hope, welcoming, and belonging for immigrants and refugees who have been displaced across the globe as she is welcomed in each place she will visit.

By partnering with arts initiatives like Little Amal, the American Immigration Council aims to meet people where they are on immigration. We believe that art can break barriers and shine a light on our shared humanity. We are a proud national partner supporting the Little Amal Tour to spread her powerful and urgent message across the country.

“The Walk,” which kicks off on September 7 in Boston and will conclude in San Diego on November 5, will partner with and celebrate local community organizations and artists across 35 cities to commemorate Little Amal’s arrival in each location. During her tour of the continental U.S., Amal will be greeted by communities that have been underserved, such as refugees, immigrants, recently arrived immigrants, and multi-generational newcomer families. Each of Little Amal’s stops will be a reflection and celebration of the community’s unique identities.

The Council has served as a bridge to connect the Little Amal team to our network of local partners in participating communities. In addition to planning events to welcome Little Amal, these partners work year-round to build local policies and programs that foster an environment where everyone can live, thrive, and pursue opportunities. Just from the last year, a handful of highlights from our local partners include:

  • Baltimore County established a New Americans Task Force that is developing a strategic welcoming plan to make the county more welcoming and celebrate the strengths of immigrants
  • Los Angeles City Council voted to make the California city a “sanctuary city” for immigrants and would prohibit the use of city resources for federal immigration enforcement.
  • The city of Austin launched a pilot Enhanced Library Card program accessible to all residents regardless of status, which will be accepted as a valid form of identification by certain agencies and organizations across the Texas
  • Columbus City Council and Ohio State University held town halls to collect additional insights and recommendations from immigrants, migrants, and refugees to build on welcoming plan recommendations released in March 2022.
  • Global Detroit, Grand Valley State University, and the Grand Rapids Chamber are collaborating to create two programs that will connect international students and entrepreneurs with the local business community in Michigan and mentorship opportunities.
  • The City of Chicago established a Deputy Mayor of Immigrant, Migrant, and Refugee Rights to continue building support for newly-arrived community members.

As Little Amal starts her journey across the U.S., many communities are also kicking off events celebrating new community members, diversity, and inclusion as a part of Welcoming America’s Welcoming Week. Events will take place starting Friday, September 8 and conclude on National Citizenship Day on Sunday, September 17.

As Little Amal’s journey begins, she reminds us that we all deserve a safe, secure, and healthy home. Her walk shows that the work to create welcoming and inclusive communities is an ongoing and evolving journey.