Letter: Program provides example for Salisbury

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 20, 2019

Around North Carolina, steps have been taken to cultivate a welcoming and supportive environment for immigrants in local communities. In larger cities such as Winston-Salem and Chapel Hill and smaller towns within Lee and Chatham counties, an initiative known as Building Integrated Communities has partnered with local governments to identify issues facing immigrants through a one-year assessment.

This assessment identifies primary concerns such as transportation, affordable and safe housing, the relationship with law enforcement and opportunities for leadership. Following the assessment, a plan is set in place that involves immigrant residents in the design as well as local government officials.

The plan is put into action by providing more bilingual resources regarding housing, legal services, healthcare, and employment opportunities. Beyond that, it encourages better communication overall by providing services in both English and Spanish, and expands public school programs to foster relationships between English and non-English speaking students and parents.

Information within public schools focuses on providing information about how to make higher education a reality for youth of immigrant families. These action plans have generated further conversations and dialogue between local residents and immigrants about how to foster diverse communities.

These cities have set an example for Salisbury, which is home to a growing population of Hispanic and Latino immigrants and refugees. In February of this year, Mayor Al Heggins publicly announced that the City of Salisbury is one in which “respects and values (immigrants) contributions to our community,” and yet, it was met with controversy from fellow City Council members.

Let’s take action and begin initiating steps toward a community that cultivates opportunities for the success of all its members.

— Catherine Holland