Wel­com­ing im­mi­grants to Tulsa

La Semana - - FRONT PAGE / PORTADA -

The City of Tulsa last week un­veiled the New Tul­sans Wel­com­ing Plan, an or­ga­nized ef­fort to make Tulsa a more wel­com­ing place for im­mi­grants and a city where im­mi­grants and other new res­i­dents can thrive and build suc­cess­ful lives, ca­reers and busi­nesses.

The plan was an­nounced dur­ing a two day pub­lic event at Martin Re­gional Li­brary, a lo­ca­tion cho­sen in part be­cause of its lo­ca­tion in East Tulsa, an area con­sid­ered the heart of Tulsa’s im­mi­grant com­mu­nity.

The plan spans five ar­eas of mu­nic­i­pal life, Civic En­gage­ment, Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment, Ed­u­ca­tion, Health and Pub­lic Safety, ar­eas city of­fi­cials see as “crit­i­cal to build­ing a wel­com­ing city.”

Within the five cat­e­gories are a to­tal of 26 goals the plan has set for Tulsa, goals that range from in­sur­ing that im­mi­grants are prop­erly rep­re­sented on the city’s au­thor­i­ties, boards, and com­mis­sions to in­creas­ing ac­cess for school age stu­dents and adults to English lan­guage classes and GED pro­grams.

Dr. Bruce Niemi, leg­isla­tive, ed­u­ca­tion and gov­ern­men­tal ad­vi­sor with the Amer­i­can Dream Coali­tion (ADC), at­tended the New Tul­sans event at Martin li­brary, and said he was im­pressed by the plan’s recog­ni­tion of the need for bet­ter pub­lic trans­porta­tion and ac­cess to post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties.

“Latino kids, many of whom are first gen­er­a­tion im- mi­grants, are now a large per­cent­age of the stu­dent body in Tulsa schools, and are the ma­jor­ity in many class­rooms,” Niemi said, “and when they grad­u­ate high school it’s vi­tal that they have a range of ed­u­ca­tional choices, whether seek­ing a col­lege de­gree or at­tend­ing one of the ex­cel­lent vo­ca­tional schools here in Tulsa.”

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum launched the New Tul­sans Ini­tia­tive just over a year ago, and dur­ing the past twelve months a co­he­sive plan was put to­gether with the in­put of com­mu­nity lead­ers and mem­bers of the pub­lic.

“Ul­ti­mately, the New Tul­sans Wel­com­ing Plan in­vites ev­ery­one, both im­mi­grants and long-term res­i­dents, to build the foun­da­tion for eco­nomic pros­per­ity, im­proved health and en­hanced qual­ity of life for our en­tire com­mu­nity,” Bynum said. “By cel­e­brat­ing and valu­ing our di­verse cul­tures, we can build con­nec­tions and cre­ate strong sup­port net­works that can lead to a more uni­fied and wel­com­ing city.”

Bynum has of­ten pointed out that were it not for im- mi­grants, Tulsa would have lost pop­u­la­tion in re­cent years, and in fact be­tween 2010 – 2015, over 27 per­cent of Tulsa’s pop­u­la­tion growth can be at­trib­uted to im­mi­grants.

Stud­ies by groups such as New Amer­i­can Econ­omy have shown how im­mi­grants have lifted up Tulsa’s econ­omy and will con­tinue to do so if the city acts to fur­ther such growth by im­ple­ment­ing the New Tul­sans Wel­com­ing Plan.

“The im­mi­grant pop­u­la­tion is a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of our work­force and a grow­ing seg­ment of our pop­u­la­tion,” said Christina da Silva, the Direc­tor of Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment and the New Tul­sans Ini­tia­tive for the City of Tulsa. “We look for­ward to work­ing with com­mu­nity mem­bers and part­ners as we im­ple­ment the New Tul­sans Wel­com­ing Plan that will help move our city for­ward.”

To read the plan in Span­ish, in­clud­ing its 26 goals, visit http://www.city­of­tulsa.org/me­dia/8525/ntspan­ish­plan-4pg-web.pdf. (La Se­m­ana)

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