Eastern Iowa is a welcoming community.
We know this because of the hundreds of volunteers who teach English to a growing number of adult learners each week at the Catherine McAuley Center, together serving nearly 500 students a year, double the number 10 years ago.
We know this because of the many local employers like Raining Rose and Mercy Medical Center who are making their hiring practices more accessible, recognizing that immigrants and refugees offer a strong work ethic and diverse perspectives to their organizations.
We know this because our city, economic alliance, businesses, and nonprofits have developed a plan to ensure Cedar Rapids continues to strategically welcome immigrants, support them in entrepreneurship, and include them in workforce and education.
As we enter the next decade, we must continue this great work and take action on the plans that have been formed.
We must support immigrants in the pursuit of post-secondary education and training.
We must educate employers in navigating the complexity of the U.S. immigration system.
We must promote opportunities for immigrants to strengthen their social ties in Eastern Iowa.
We ALL must live out a spirit of welcome each day in our workplaces, places of worship, and neighborhoods to keep Eastern Iowa a welcoming community.
Paula Land is Executive Director of the Catherine McAuley Center