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News :: Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor
Local leaders hold a dialogue with elected officials on Welcoming MA initiative to reaffirm respect for immigrants
20 Oct 2008
Somerville, MA. Community Organizations, local businesses and communities of faith held a dialogue with elected officials in Somerville as part of a week of action to promote the Welcoming MA campaign. This campaign is a statewide initiative to affirm Massachusetts as a Commonwealth that welcomes and respects the dignity of all people. There will be more than thirty actions and events happening all over the state in support of the Welcoming, MA Campaign. "This Campaign is really about saying we want to have a civil dialogue about issues that relate to our immigrant friends and neighbors, and not resort to name-calling and stereotyping," said Danny LeBlanc, CEO of the Somerville Community Corporation. "I believe that those of us born in the U.S. have at least that minimum obligation with respect to how we treat newcomers to our country," stated LeBlanc.
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"We are very pleased to have a democratic and open dialogue with our elected officials to talk about the many contributions that we as immigrants have provided to the city of Somerville, and the respect and recognition of our humanity that we hope to receive in return. I think that all of us want to live and work in a city that puts into practice the principles under which this country was founded; principles like democracy, dignity, inclusion, and multiculturalism. More than 2000 people from Somerville have signed the pledge in support of this campaign. We hope that our elected officials are going to back this initiative and hear the voice of the people," declared, Patricia Montes, Interim Co Director of Centro Presente.

"The words that the media and politicians repeat over and over makes it easier for people to forget that we are all human beings," says Maria Landaverde, program coordinator at The Welcome Project in Somerville. "They call us 'criminals' and 'terrorists' only because of the way we look. We get treated unfairly at our jobs, in school, and in our neighborhoods. It affects everyone who looks different, not just those who don't have the right documents," declared Landaverde.

"All of our ancestors came to Somerville from other places, looking for a better way of life, beginning with the Puritans and Pilgrims on down to our Scots and Italian and Irish and Portuguese grandparents. The Welcoming Massachusetts initiative reminds me of this quote from the book of Exodus, a quote that surely comforted many of those same immigrants, 'You shall not oppress the stranger, for you know the soul of the stranger, having been strangers in the land of Egypt,'" said Rev. Molly Baskette, Senior Minister of the First Congregational Church of Somerville UCC.

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For more information about the campaign visit
www.welcomingma.org
See also:
http://www.welcomingma.org

This work licensed under a
Creative Commons license.
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