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Yesterday Raleigh joined the growing group of cities across the country that are recognizing the economic and social benefits of welcoming new immigrants. As a Welcoming City, Raleigh is committing “to ensure full support and equal access to opportunity to our newest immigrant residents and all who call Raleigh home.”

Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlane shakes hands with Mercedes Restucha-Klem, a member of the city's Human Relations Commission, after declaring Raleigh a "Welcoming City." Photo by Ricky Leung.

Raleigh mayor Nancy McFarlane shakes hands with Mercedes Restucha-Klem, a member of the city’s Human Relations Commission, after declaring Raleigh a “Welcoming City.” Photo by Ricky Leung.

Recent studies have confirmed that immigrants moving to a city leads to more jobs and lower unemployment in part because they are more than twice as likely to take on the risk of starting small businesses. So more and more, cities are finding that making immigrants feel welcome and supported is just good business.
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By now, many of you have probably already heard of the unfortunate Wisconsin shooting at the Sikh temple. The gunman Wade Page, who lost his military career due to a history with alcohol, has ties to North Carolina and held White supremacist views.

It’s difficult when these things happen and we learn from his friends that Page was “a very kind, very smart individual — loved his friends. One of those guys with a soft spot,” who had problems dealing with alcohol, was a loner, lost multiple jobs, and had his home in Fayetteville foreclosed on. And while that all paints him to be almost a sympathetic figure, a lot of people, including myself, are really just filled with frustration and anger both towards him and for him. Why would he see taking lives of others as a solution to any of his problems (if that was what it was)? And why do we perpetuate a racist and xenophobic society, one equally unkind to the socioeconomically distressed, that would drive him to such hateful actions?

And it’s in thinking about all these strong emotions that I find it amazing to see such a calm, peaceful, friendly, welcoming response from the Sikh community:

And it gives me hope.