DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Commissioners have passed a resolution declaring Wayne County a “Welcoming County” for immigrants.
A special presentation was made Thursday in Detroit, recognizing contributions made by immigrants and celebrating the importance of diversity and inclusion.
“When you look across all 43 communities, Wayne County is really the face of America and we are very proud of that,” County Executive Warren Evans said in a statement. “Diversity has been a great advantage for the county and the country. The contributions of immigrants are countless, we’re a much better country because of them. Unfortunately, there’s a climate today where many people don’t feel welcome and that’s hurting us as a society.”
The county is partnering with Welcoming Michigan, a chapter of Welcoming America, a Decatur, Georgia-based nonprofit that supports communities interested in becoming more inclusive toward immigrants and all residents. Together, they will engage both U.S. and foreign-born residents in creating a welcoming atmosphere while building relationships that foster mutual respect among longtime resident and newcomers.
Wayne County becomes just one of 14 counties nationwide to join the effort, according to Welcoming America.
“This is the right thing to do, and it’s always been the way we’ve operated in Wayne County, but in today’s political environment I think it’s important to reaffirm our commitment to these ideals, to say it out loud,” said Wayne County Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak.
Wayne County says it will communicate messages of unity and shared values while working to improve inclusion and access to government.
As of 2016, 49.7% of Wayne County’s 1.7 million residents is classified as white, 39.2% Black or African American, 3.2% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 5.8% Hispanic or Latino (of any race) and 2.5% of two or more races. Wayne County is the most populous county in Michigan, ranked 19th in the United States, according to the U.S. Census. It is home to a large concentration of immigrants and refugees, and is the most diverse population in the state. Michigan’s Arab population grew by more than 65% between 1990 and 2000. According to Arab America, more than 80% of Arab Americans reside in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, and more than 40% of Dearborn’s population identifies as having Arab heritage.
The Welcoming Wayne County effort will be part of a larger diversity and inclusion initiative led by Evans’ office – Wayne United – which will focus on telling Wayne County’s diversity story and raising awareness about the social, cultural and economic benefits of inclusion.
© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.