Welcome Dayton Eyes Expansion As Immigration Rates Rise
In this post-election season, WYSO is examining how some of the policies proposed by President-elect Donald Trump on the campaign trail may affect the Miami Valley. Today, we look at how some of these Trump administration proposals could impact the city of Dayton’s recent efforts to welcome new immigrants.
Welcome Dayton’s goals have at times stood in contrast to some of the anti-immigrant sentiments that became a hallmark of the Trump campaign. Trump has made controversial statements about suspending immigration from countries ‘compromised’ by terrorism, among other proposals.
The Welcome Dayton program was launched in 2011, and collaborates with local non-profit organizations and social service groups to make certain resources, such as English classes, more accessible to the city’s newcomers.
“Appreciating that they’re here,making them feel like they’re welcome, that they belong," Dr. Theo Majka, a professor at the University of Dayton and member of the Welcome Dayton committee, says. "And also working on difficulties that some experience as well.”
Majka says the Trump campaign’s immigration proposals were unsettling at times. But he doesn’t expect Trump’s policies will directly impact Welcome Dayton’s ability to coordinate with area non-profits, or to host events.
But Majka says he is afraid the new administration will foster an environment in which new immigrants are less likely to reach out to Welcome Dayton for help.
“Let’s say Latino residents, whether undocumented or not, they fear they may be picked up by the federal authorities. They’re going to withdraw from public life,” he says.
In a statement, Welcome Dayton officials told WYSO they’re moving forward with plans to grow the organization.
According to recent U.S. Census data, Dayton’s foreign-born population is up by at least 60 percent since 2009.