Making Massachusetts a More Welcoming State
The Boston Globe did a good piece on the Welcoming Massachusetts campaign, today. My favorite part of the article is the picture that went with it, taken by Globe photographer David I. Ryan:
The article also got some good messages out there.
The goal of the "Welcoming Massachusetts" campaign, which organizers say is backed by more than 60 groups and 40 elected officials, is to promote tolerance and signal that support exists for legislation benefiting immigrants.
However, campaign leaders will not be pushing for that legislation anytime soon, said Maria Elena Letona, executive director of the Latin American organization Centro Presente.
"The truth is that the political environment has been completely and totally poisoned by the loud voices of a few," she said after a press conference yesterday.
The question of how the United States should handle illegal immigrants, a debate that has escalated in recent years, has at times provoked anti-immigrant sentiment in cities across the country.
Organizers must first detoxify that environment, Letona said, or efforts to enact legislation will fail.
"That's what this campaign is about," she said. "It's about demonstrating that most people in Massachusetts are hospitable, are caring. We're created equal, no exceptions."
In between chants of "Yes, we can! Si se puede!" and "Today we can, tomorrow we vote," speakers at yesterday's press conference focused on equality.
Support for immigration reform should not be considered a partisan political position, said Emily Szargowicz, government affairs program coordinator for the Jewish Community Relations Council in Boston.
Rather, she said, it should be thought of as a return to a principle stated in the Declaration of Independence, that "all men are created equal."
"It is not to move to the left or the right, but to raise itself up to the basic truths this country was founded on," she said.
Pastor Gregory Bishop of the Lion of Judah Congregation in Boston observed that there is a complex relationship between the nation and its newcomers.
"We know we need immigrants," he said. "Yet with every wave of immigration, there has been hostility."
Maddie Hanna - Boston Globe (9 July 2008)
Definitely a good kick-off for the campaign.