Statement in response to President Trump’s executive order banning entry for 90 days by citizens from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen

 

The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians has been opening our doors to immigrants and refugees from around the world for the past 14 years because we know that welcoming works. Welcoming works to revitalize neighborhoods and commercial corridors. Welcoming works to promote entrepreneurship and job creation. Welcoming works to address gaps in the labor market, both for low-skilled and high-skilled jobs. Welcoming works to grow our economy and make our country great again, and again, and again, as it has since our founding.

 

Immediately following the election and again after the inauguration, we’ve heard from so many people who share our values offering to help. Perhaps you are one of them. While we remain focused on providing the quality education, training, and support to those who want to succeed in America, as we always have, here are a few simple ways to make a meaningful contribution and to demonstrate just how welcoming works:

 

Donate to the Welcoming Center to ensure that we are able to continue providing education and training, job placement and small business development services. Financial support in these uncertain times is needed more than ever as we can no longer rely on government funding.

 

Talk to an immigrant or refugee. Ask them how they are doing. Learn about their culture and customs. Find out what music they like, what their favorite foods are and what they find most surprising about America. Ask how you might be helpful to them. Refer them to the Welcoming Center if they are looking to improve their English to get a job or build a business. Getting to know one another can lead to untold adventures or simply create one less stranger in your world.

 

If you hear someone disparage or ridicule another for being different, speak up. We cannot be silent and tolerate ignorance. We must stick up for one another and protect those who are being targeted by bullies or experiencing vulnerability and isolation.

 

Join us on March 2nd for our annual Solas Awards as we shine a light on visionary leaders who support immigrant integration and economic advancement for all people, regardless of where they were born.

 

Practice regular acts of kindness to strangers and make a commitment to cultivating empathy for others. Demonstrate for your family, your colleagues and your community what it means to be welcoming.

 

Volunteer. Offer your time and share your talents with organizations that help immigrants and refugees. Believe me, we need your help. In some cases, we may actually need your help to manage the outpouring of support. So offer to coordinate volunteer efforts, if you have the skills and time. The more people engaged in welcoming immigrants and refugees, the better our world will be.

Offer a job to an immigrant or refugee. If you are an employer or in a position to hire, understand that immigrants and refugees are eager to support themselves and their families by applying their education, skills and work experience. Take time to understand the value of an immigrant’s credentials and promote diversity, equity and inclusion in your company.

 

Patronize your neighborhood businesses; chances are you will be supporting an immigrant entrepreneur. Since 2010, 96% of the main street business owners in Philadelphia have been foreign-born.

 

Travel. Read. Expand your horizons and never stop learning. Education is the key to understanding and engaging with the world.
Invite an immigrant or refugee to have coffee or tea and introduce them to others in your network. Mentoring and making connections can make all the difference in the world, reducing social isolation and accelerating immigrant integration. Show others how welcoming works.

 

Peter Gonzales
President & CEO
Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians