Looking for America’s Most Immigrant-Friendly City

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December 12, 2014
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Francisco Dueñas, Lambda Legal's Director of Diversity, Inclusion and Proyecto Igualdad

What is America’s most welcoming city? That is the title that several cities will be competing for at this year’s National Immigrant Integration Conference in Los Angeles from December 14th to 16th.

This is the largest conference of immigrant integration leaders in the country — the educators, advocates and city officials who are working to make sure immigrants are able to fully contribute to their communities. As immigration reform languishes in Congress, local and statewide efforts at inclusion have gathered momentum.

On Monday, the officials in charge of immigrant integration in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles will compete in “Integration Idol” for the title of most immigrant-friendly city. Follow the action on Twitter, Monday at 8am PST.

We don’t know which city will win, but I know which one should: the one that is also the most LGBT-friendly. There are more than 1 million LGBT immigrants living in the U.S., and they are often ignored by both LGBT and immigrant rights advocates. We can do a much better job of welcoming LGBT immigrants into our communities. For example, LGBT community centers and LGBT-owned businesses could host English classes. Trainings for city employees should include information about LGBT asylum seekers. Tourism boards should consider marketing both their LGBT and ethnic enclaves together.

When LGBT and immigrant rights advocates work together, the whole community is better off. All the “Integration Idol” contestants would do well to take this into account.