To the Editor
(Re: “Awaiting Puerto Ricans, September 38, 2017, p. 1)
Immigration in our Future.
Immigration is desirable; it should not be either opposed or tolerated; it should be appreciated. The large majority of us are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants, many from countries far beyond our national borders. And it is lucky for us that it is so.; without immigration, cities like Waterbury would be more rapidly shrinking than they already are. The names of our city’s leaders, from the mayor to the aldermen to our state and national representatives; reflect a wide range of national and ethnic names. The recent Gathering in Library offered a chance for representatives from dozens of countries to celebrate and share their cultures, to enjoy in peace enjoy our diversity More than 1,000 people attended the downtown event. It showcased dancers, exhibits, and goods from 115 countries from Albania, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, West Africa and many more. We do not consider African-Americans as immigrants, although their history reflects centuries of forced arrival in this county, and their experience still reflects that history in painful ways.
This Gathering in downtown Waterbury has been described as “the most diverse and inclusive cultural festival in New England.”
We can be justifiably proud of such a description, and it should lead it for consider what we already have and what further we can do to benefit from its implications. Waterbury is already a major cross-roads in New England, both for highways and shortly as well as by rail with the pending new rail station. It already has two major hospitals, a branch of the state university, a thriving community college, all with strong multi-cultural programs. It has strong social organization, from community and ethnic -based clubs, churches, mosques, and synagogues, and rich cultural offerings, in music, the theater, the arts. Its restaurants reflect its diversity.
It could do more. Bi-lingual programs can be fostered, both to and from English. An Office for Assistance to New Arrivals could be established, dealing with access to housing, jobs, community involvement, links to other resources. Legal aid can be provided with expertise in the relevant fields. Immigrants could be officially welcomed, together with new arrivals, there might be a newcomer of the month high-lighted publicly, there could be volunteer mentoring programs established perhaps enlisting senior groups, , Unions and workers’ organization, inherently multi-racial and ethnic , could be encouraged, economic development efforts could further focus on small incubator-type efforts targeted to help newcomers,. Research, lectures, public discussions, such as being undertaken at Silas Bronson Library in its “Who Was Here” and “Here and Now” programs in the next two months, could be expanded and widely publicized.
If assistance to Puerto Rican families displaced by the devastation in that island Is organized and funded, it may provide good experience for the effective and human handling of problems of immigrants and displacees from other causes as well.
Waterbury should stake out a claim, perhaps even a national claim, as a city welcoming of immigrants, and known nationally as such: Waterbury is a city built on the contributions of immigrants, appreciative of immigrants, affirmatively welcoming of immigrants. It should make the most of the strength Immigrants provide for its future. “WATERBURY THE WELCOMING CITY” as a city slogan?