Mayors join Obama’s ‘welcoming’ parade for immigrants

By Leo Hohmann

Kasim Reed signs "new Americans" agreement with Leon Rodriquez, head of U.S. Customs and Immigration Service on April 23.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, left, signs “new Americans” agreement with Leon Rodriquez, head of U.S. Customs and Immigration Service on April 23.

For the millions of immigrants and refugees who might feel unwelcome in Georgia, Texas, Alabama and any other state not on board with President Obama’s plans to “build welcoming communities” for “new Americans,” Mayor Kasim Reed has a message: Come to Atlanta.

Reed became the nation’s fourth mayor to embrace the White House push to roll out the welcome mat for new immigrants and refugees and remove barriers to citizenship. Critics say the program has little to do with creating new citizens and everything to do with creating new Democrat voters.

On April 23 Reed signed an agreement with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) making Atlanta a “welcoming city,” following similar deals signed by mayors Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Karl Dean of Nashville.

“The truth of the matter is a lot of our foreign-born population lives in rural areas in the region and so I am telling those folks, I think you are better off being inside the city limits,” Reed told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And if other folks don’t want to stand up and welcome you, why are you there?”

Reed blasted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who is leading a group of 25 other states, including Georgia, in suing to stop Obama’s plans to shield from deportation millions of illegal immigrants. The states argue Obama’s executive actions amount to an unconstitutional end-run around Congress.

Reed told the AJC those governors and mayors who don’t welcome refugees and immigrants will eventually be seen as having been “on the wrong side of history” and “they’re also on the wrong side of the economy.”

Reed has done a lot of work leading up to last month’s signing of the deal with the federal government.

City spokeswoman Melissa Mullinax told WND that Reed began working with Welcoming America more than a year ago.

Welcoming America is headed by David Lubell, a close associate of President Obama who met with the president when he announced his executive amnesty plans in Nashville last November. Lubell’s group was hatched in 2010 with $150,000 in seed money from billionaire George Soros and is now flush with federal grants.

David Lubell of Welcoming America works closely with the White House to soften up the soil in cities targeted to receive an influx refugees.
David Lubell of Welcoming America works closely with the White House to soften up the soil in cities targeted to receive an influx of refugees.

According to city documents, Reed agreed on Sept. 17, 2014, to implement a list of 20 recommendations from the Welcoming Atlanta Working Group, an outgrowth of Lubell’s national Welcoming America. Number 10 on the list was to open “citizenship corners” at local libraries and to “conduct voter registration drives and outreach at City of Atlanta festivals.”

Number one on the list was to “Create an Office of Multicultural Affairs with a Director who is part of the Mayor’s executive team.” That director, Monica Fuentes, did not return WND’s calls Wednesday.

Cecilia Muñoz, a former National Council of La Raza executive who now heads up Obama’s Task Force on New Americans, immediately fired off a tweet congratulating Reed for joining the partnership.

Congrats to Mayor @KasimReed & @USCIS for supporting #NewAmericans and increasing access to citizenship in ATL!

While Atlanta, Nashville, Chicago and L.A. have signed formal partnerships with the federal government to turn refugees and immigrants into “new Americans,” dozens of other city mayors work informally toward the same goal with a group called the Partnership for a New American Economy.

But some mayors have pushed back, including those in Manchester, New Hampshire; Amarillo, Texas; Lynn and Springfield, Massachusetts; and Athens, Georgia. These mayors have sought to stop or slow the flow of refugees to their cities because they are becoming a drain on public services, especially schools. It is also becoming more difficult to find jobs for the refugees, some mayors say.

Amarillo has received more foreign refugees per capita than any city in Texas, perhaps in the country. They come from Iraq, Somalia, Myanmar and other places. The school system has students that speak more than 60 languages and the E-911 center has had to be prepared for emergency calls in Arabic and Burmese. Many found work in the meat packing plants, but those plants aren’t hiring like they once did.

“We’ve raised some red flags and said this isn’t good for some entities in the city or for the refugees themselves,” Mayor Paul Harpole told the Texas Tribune.

A voter registration program

Chris Farrell, director of research at Judicial Watch, the Washington, D.C.-based government watchdog, said he’s skeptical of the politically correct “welcoming” efforts.

“They’re not concerned about what’s necessarily good for their particular city. What they’re concerned about is redistribution of wealth and power, and enrolling as many to the voter rolls as possible,” Farrell told WND. “It’s about entitlement, dependency and more broadly it’s about voter registration drives. Because what Mr. Obama promised when he talked to Joe the Plumber was fundamental transformation, and he’s very deliberate and he’s keeping good to his word.”

Farrell believes the new Americans are being used to make political hay.

“They are not necessarily new Americans, they’re new arrivals, some legal, some illegals, others administratively waived into the country,” he said. “This is social engineering writ large.”

As part of the agreement with the feds, Reed will use Atlanta’s public “offices, libraries, recreation centers and other facilities” as stations for helping immigrants and refugees become naturalized citizens. Librarians will be trained to help guide the immigrants and refugees along the path of citizenship.

Cities signing these deals also agree to provide space for immigrant services on city websites and give air time on public access channels.

The agreement encourages programs that help immigrant populations become more engaged politically, referring to “full civic participation” and making immigrants “aware of citizenship rights.”

The city also agrees to allow the federal USCIS to track and measure the success of its programs to naturalize new citizens.

Nashville creates ‘Little Kurdistan’

The city of Nashville, like Atlanta, has become a haven for foreign-born residents.

A local activist who opposes new settlements of refugees in Tennessee and asked not to be identified, told WND the city has received thousands of Kurdish and Somali refugees over the past 15 years and most have not assimilated, living in “enclaves.”

“They call Nashville ‘Little Kurdistan,'” she said. “We have the largest Kurdish community in the U.S. thanks to refugee resettlement. They’re mostly Sunni, and most of the Islamic activism has come out of the Kurdish community here.”

Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville
Mayor Karl Dean of Nashville

Like the mayors in Chicago, Atlanta and L.A., Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has created a special high-level office, the New Americans Advisory Council, to advise him on how to integrate the growing population of foreign-born residents.

Planting seed communities in smaller cities

Nashville’s foray into the immigrant welcoming business began in earnest when it agreed to join a pilot program funded by a federal grant to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2001. Nashville joined Portland, Oregon, and Lowell, Massachusetts, as the three experimental testing grounds.

That experiment, called Building the New American Community Initiative, contained a mission that became the model for transforming the demographics of cities of all sizes across the U.S.

“The whole point of this grant if you look in retrospect what they were trying to do, is expand the resettlements outside of the traditional gateway cities of L.A., New York, Houston, Boston, Miami and Chicago and plant new seeds throughout the country,” the Nashville activist said.

“They roped in the Chamber of Commerce, which took this federal grant,” she added. “And one of the outgrowths of this twisted thinking is to very quickly get the refugees invested in local government and forming coalitions within their communities.”

The BNAC initiative’s executive summary talks about creating economic and social change through increasing levels of immigration and refugee resettlement which would spread more broadly throughout the nation.

“The 1990s was an extraordinary decade in terms of the number, origins and cultural diversity of migrants who arrived in the United States.

“Immigration’s influence on the social, economic and political institutions of the nation has matched these demographic changes, and there is every indication that refugees and immigrants will continue to be a major force for change in the years to come. The influence of newcomers and their children on local communities, as well as the ways in which communities affect newcomers’ integration trajectories, lies at the heart of many social and economic changes in American society.

The summary also refers to the “importance of voting” and getting refugees and immigrants to “participate as partners with public agencies” while helping “craft policies” that change the community.

“One of the major goals of the BNAC Initiative was to educate policymakers about newcomer communities and their integration experiences in localities, as well as to bring refugee and immigrant voices to the table on a range of policy issues. This has been one of the most successful aspects of the Initiative, with newcomers not only learning about the American electoral system and the importance of voting, but also participating as partners with public agencies in the coalitions. In practical terms, refugee and immigrant organizations played a direct role in crafting policies and programs that directly influence their communities as well as the receiving community.”

“So they took this grant in 2001 and everyone was really sort of asleep at the wheel as far as what was happening in Tennessee,” according to the activist.

Brian Mosely, a reporter for the Times-Gazette in Shelbyville, Tennessee, woke up the sleeping masses with a bombshell series of articles from 2008 to 2012 about the problems Bedford County was experiencing with the influx of Somali refugees, most of whom went to work in a Tyson meatpacking plant. Many of the problems had to do with culture clashes, crime and costs. When Tyson dropped the Labor Day holiday in favor of the Islamic holiday of Eid al-Fitr, the town exploded in controversy as the local union rep described the backlash to the holiday as “bigotry.”

Then there was an article in the Wall Street Journal about how the refugees were being bused in to the meat plant and replacing native workers.

“There were contradictory reports of refugee contractors with Catholic Charities driving refugees in to get the jobs,” said the local activist. “They lied to cover this up. ”

Nashville then launched another effort called Alignment Nashville that aimed to align all public services “in a way that catered to new Americans and made sure they knew about all the goodies they could get through the city,” she said.

The list of mayors signing on to Obama’s strategy to create voter-eligible “new Americans” is likely to keep growing.

For an indication of how many mayors across the U.S. hold views similar to Atlanta’s Reed and Nashville’s Dean, one only need peruse the membership rolls of the Partnership for a New American Economy. This group consists of Chambers of Commerce in cooperation with major investment bankers like Rockefeller Group International, Goldman Sachs and Brown Brothers Harriman along with dozens of U.S. mayors, from big and small cities and belonging to both major parties. The group claims that immigrants and refugees are highly entrepreneurial and strengthen a city’s economy.

A recent study by the Congressional Research Office discovered quite the opposite. It found 74.2 percent of refugees brought to the U.S. through the United Nations refugee program end up on federal food stamps, while 23 percent live in public housing.

The ‘Dirty Dozen’ mayors?

In October 2014, after thousands of unaccompanied alien children crossed the U.S. southern border from Central America, Lubell’s Welcoming America honored 12 mayors it said had the compassion to welcome the children into their cities. Refugee Resettlement Watch blogger Ann Corcoran called them the “dirty dozen.” Most are also members of the Partnership for a New American Economy.

  • Mayor Kasim Reed, Atlanta
  • Mayor Martin J. Walsh, Boston
  • Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago
  • Mayor Stephen Benjamin, Columbia, S.C.
  • Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver
  • Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles
  • County Executive Isiah Leggett, Montgomery County, Md.
  • Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia
  • Mayor William Peduto, Pittsburgh
  • Mayor Daniel Bianchi, Pittsfield, Mass.
  • Mayor Edward Murray, Seattle
  • Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis
  • Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Tucson, Ariz.

Other cities and counties that have pledged their support to Lubell’s Welcoming America include:  Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (including Pittsburgh); Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Boise, Idaho; Chicago, Illinois; Columbus, Ohio; Dayton, Ohio; Dodge City, Kansas; High Point, North Carolina; Lincoln, Nebraska; Louisville, Kentucky; MaComb County, Michigan; Montgomery County, Maryland; Nashville, Tennessee; New York, New York; Oakley, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Francisco, California; St. Louis, Missouri (city); St. Louis, Missouri (county); and Sterling Heights, Michigan.

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