WTI in the Media

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Recent Coverage of Welcoming Activities


TIRRC launches Welcoming Tennessee Initiative

TIRRC launches Welcoming Tennessee Initiative


Welcoming Tennessee on the Front Page of the Tennessean 

'Welcoming' effort addresses residents' fears and perceptions

By Janell Ross


More often than not, in a combination gas station and coffee shop near Smithville, Tenn., the topic of conversation turns to immigrants and the effect they have on Tennessee.

They rob American workers of minimum-wage jobs because they'll work for less, customers say. They have as many children as possible so that they can lay claim to food stamps and TennCare. They don't pay taxes and don't care to learn English.

Al Sue, a transportation company executive who travels Tennessee for work, hears the same thing at stops not just in Smithville, about an hour southeast of Nashville, but all over the state."Just about anytime you're in there or any one of these places where people gather, you are going to hear about it," said Sue, who ranks illegal immigration and misinformation among his top concerns. "One of them starts in on immigrants, and before long there are a lot of people who are nodding their heads to a bunch of stuff that is 70 percent false, but 90 percent believe it to be true."

The people inside those coffee shops are the kind Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition workers want to reach. The group recently received a $50,000 grant to expand its Welcoming Tennessee program, money to fund thought-provoking billboards or gather people to air fears and complaints.

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Winners of E Pluribus Unum award for integration 

Announce of award on MPI's website

WASHINGTON – The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) on Wednesday, May 20th announced the four winners of its inaugural E Pluribus Unum national awards for exceptional immigrant integration initiatives, with an innovative Tennessee-based public education and communications campaign receiving a $50,000 prize.

The E Pluribus Unum Prizes program, established by MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy with generous support from the J.M. Kaplan Fund, seeks to inspire others to take on this important work and encourage the adoption of effective integration practices.

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and the three other E Pluribus Unum Prize winners will be honored tonight at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress featuring remarks by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and other national policymakers. The winners were selected from more than 500 applications received from around the nation.

“The Welcoming Tennessee Initiative stands out as a positive, creative way to have a constructive, mutually enriching dialogue between the native-born members of the state and its newest members – with the goal of creating stronger, more vibrant communities for everyone,” said MPI Senior Vice President Michael Fix, co-director of the National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy. “And it is serving as a model for community leaders in other new destination states.”

The Welcoming Tennessee Initiative creates opportunities for Tennessee residents, native-born and immigrant alike, to discuss the effects of immigration, its historical and national contexts, and how to develop strategies for strong, inclusive communities.

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