Local immigrant advocacy group honored

Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 8:12pm

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition was one of four national winners of the Migration Policy Institute’s inaugural E Pluribus Unum award for exceptional immigrant integration initiatives.

TIRRC won the award for its Welcoming Tennessee Initiative, it was announced Thursday at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. TIRRC won the award from a field of more than 500 applications submitted nationally.

The Welcoming Tennessee program creates opportunities for native-born and immigrant residents to discuss the effects of immigration and how to develop strategies for inclusive communities. The Tennessee initiative sparked similar efforts in 13 other states.

“The impact of the Welcoming Tennessee Initiative is clear,” TIRRC Executive Director Stephen Fotopulos said in a statement. “Members of communities receiving immigrants are more likely to respond to the challenges of immigration with empathy rather than distrust or fear, decision-makers are given the political room to pursue proactive policies, and immigrants feel welcomed and encouraged to participate and contribute.”