Across the world, the image of America is one of abundant diversity, expansive opportunity, and remarkable inclusion. Indeed, that is what has made this country the nation we know today.
Waves of immigrants seeking a better life fled their homelands to make America their home.… those waves of immigrants were our ancestors. Some came here seeking freedom from tyranny, from religious and other persecution, and from poverty. Some were brought here forcibly on slave ships, while others came here to pursue education or work in the most advanced sectors of the global economy. With grit, resilience, and hard work they made a better life for themselves and their children. Somewhat obscured in the current conversation, is the reality that the migration we know from the founding of the nation mirrors what we see today. The Indian Tribes or Native Americans were here earlier. And as waves of immigrants came in, we built a country with our rules, our customs, our laws. We legitimized ourselves!
Today, every community from Charlottesville to Cambridge, and Long Beach to New York offers a richness of cultural diversity and vitality. According to wallethub.com, Cambridge ranks 31st among mid-sized cities in its diversity ranking index of 74.73 points — an index based on ethnicity and race, language and birthplace. With 27 percent of our local population foreign born, Cambridge’s success is defined by its ability to be open, inclusive and embracing of diversity.
For children whose parents came here in search of a better life (an estimated 8,000 in Massachusetts), America is the only home they have ever known. They have contributed to the economy, to their communities, and to the nation in countless ways. To uproot these young people, who are productive members of American society, is not just a moral issue but also has serious economic implications. The recent endorsement of over 792 companies in an open letter to Washington Leadership speaks in defense of retaining DACA, or the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act as an important economic force. It further reinforces the valuable contributions of immigrants, in particular, the DREAMers — a critical component of America’s communities and its workforce.
Denying DREAMers denies our history and our values. The Cambridge Community Foundation has long supported immigrant populations through efforts such as the Immigrant Initiative and our nonprofit partners such as Enroot, Massachusetts Alliance for Portuguese Speakers (MAPS), Kids In Need of Defense, as well as other legal and community services. We stand behind our continued commitment to support all those who make up our beloved city!
Mo Barbosa and Phil Johnson
Co-Chairs Civic Leadership & Communications Committee
President, Cambridge Community Foundation