Battle Creek seeks to be more welcoming place for refugees

Posted at 8:47 AM, Apr 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 18:34:10-04

BATTLE CREEK, Mich.  — With presidential candidates arguing about the best way to tackle immigration reform, local city officials found a solution to the problem that promotes unity among all residents.

Battle Creek commissioners voted 6-3 Tuesday to join the Welcoming City program. It's a nationwide  initiative started by Welcoming America to make all residents, especially immigrants and refugees, feel at home.

"It means we as a city value inclusion," said commissioner Kate Flores, who's worked with immigrants in the past. "We think that being an inclusive place and a welcoming place for all of our residents, that our living in the city is a value to us and helps make us a safer, prosperous and a better place to live."

Flores said the idea behind the initiative is nothing new for Battle Creek. The city has worked hard over the years to build harmony between its immigrant population and Michigan-born residents through hosting ethnic festivals and diversity training in workplaces.

"Battle Creek has actually done a lot of work in building a city where people feel included and building a city government where people can feel included," said Flores. "So this is also celebrating and honoring what's been done and saying we want to be able to do that intentionally and even more."

Mayor Dave Walters and two commissioners voted against joining the program. However, Flores said everyone agreed about the significance of maintaining peace among citizens.