Welcoming America

(DECATUR, GA) – Today, Welcoming America released a letter signed by Mayors and County Executives from some of the nation’s largest communities in which they promise to compassionately support and welcome the young children from Central America seeking refuge in the US.  Reflecting a symbolic cross section of America, this initial group of Mayors and County Executives are showing tremendous leadership among a growing number of communities that have been willing and able to ensure that children are cared for.

“As leaders of the nation’s cities and counties, we remind the American public that the moral compass of our nation resides in our local communities. We call on our residents and leaders across the country to respond with compassion and concern for the welfare of all children, and to join us in doing all we can to live up to our values as a just and welcoming nation,” the letter states.

Mayors Kasim Reed of Atlanta, Georgia, Martin J. Walsh of Boston, Massachusetts, Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Illinois, Stephen K. Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina, Michael B. Hancock of Denver, Colorado, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, California, Michael A. Nutter of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, William Peduto of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Daniel L. Bianchi of Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Edward B. Murray of Seattle, Washington, Francis G. Slay of St. Louis, Missouri, Jonathan Rothschild of Tucson, Arizona, and County Executive Isiah Leggett of Montgomery County, Maryland all signed the letter.

“As we reflect back on the initial concerns raised around children fleeing violence, we see that our values have prevailed.  These leaders are demonstrating that communities have responded with compassion, and can successfully help children in need, now and into the future,” said Welcoming America Executive Director, David Lubell. 

“This isn’t a political issue – it’s a humanitarian one,” said Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta, Georgia. “I’m proud to sign this statement with my colleagues. As the moral compass of our country, we recognize that being welcoming is consistent with our values as a nation and that includes taking care of the welfare of all of the children in our communities.”

You can find a copy of the statement here and below.

About Welcoming America

Welcoming America, which recently received recognition from the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations and the BMW Group through the 2014 Intercultural Innovation Award, is a national nonprofit that helps communities across the country reach their full economic and social potential by becoming more welcoming toward immigrants. Welcoming America brings together a broad network of non-profits and local governments from across the U.S. and strengthens their work with the know-how, tools and incentives they need to transform their communities in to vibrant, prosperous places where all residents can contribute. To find out more, visit www.welcomingamerica.org.

We Will Provide Compassion and Care for Children: A Statement of the Nation’s City and County Leaders

Today, children fleeing horrific violence are seeking shelter and safety in the United States.  These young children from Central America have often traveled thousands of miles, have suffered abuse along the way, and have surrendered themselves to U.S. border patrol agents, asking for our help.

As leaders of the nation’s cities and counties, we remind the American public that the moral compass of our nation resides in our local communities.  We call on our residents and leaders across the country to respond with compassion and concern for the welfare of all children, and to join us in doing all we can to live up to our values as a just and welcoming nation.

As Americans, we will not turn our backs on children. Fortunately, the majority of these children have family living in our communities who are longing to take care of their loved ones. Local governments, community organizations and volunteers across the country are working together to assist these families and provide shelter and care for the few who do not have it. We will do our part to support their efforts, as well as those of faith communities who are leading the call to help children in need.

As Americans, we also believe in the values of freedom, justice, and due process. We will listen to these children and treat them fairly. The children should have a chance to tell their story and the law should be applied fairly and in accordance with our justice system. The children are also young, scared, and need a trusted adult looking out for their interests, whether as a translator, legal advocate or care provider.  Volunteers in our towns and cities are already stepping up to provide this help, and we commit to supporting their efforts in whatever way we can.

We believe, and know, our local communities to be welcoming communities. Whether our residents were born here or traveled thousands of miles to join us, we all look out for one another and for our families. Our values – and for many of us, our empathy as parents with young children of our own – remind us that our greatest strength lies in our ability to work together and care for one another.  As local governments, we will play an essential role in bringing our communities together to strengthen our ability to respond compassionately.

We know that our nation can and will respond with courage and compassion, just as we always have in moments of adversity.  We are proud that our nation’s cities and counties are leading the way and of what our communities are already doing to be welcoming places, and hope that you and your community will join us.

Mayor Kasim Reed
City of Atlanta, Georgia

Mayor Martin J. Walsh
City of Boston, Massachusetts

Mayor Rahm Emanuel
City of Chicago, Illinois

Mayor Stephen K. Benjamin
City of Columbia, South Carolina

Mayor Michael B. Hancock
City of Denver, Colorado

Mayor Eric Garcetti
City of Los Angeles, California

County Executive Isiah Leggett
Montgomery County, Maryland

Mayor Michael A. Nutter
City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mayor William Peduto
City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi
City of Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Mayor Edward B. Murray
City of Seattle, Washington

Mayor Francis G. Slay
City of St. Louis, Missouri

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild
City of Tucson, Arizona