Commentaries Government

Mayor’s Column: Honoring National Welcome Week

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh

A regular column by Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh:

National Welcoming Week takes place from September 12 – 20. It’s an opportunity to recognize immigrant communities, celebrate our city’s immigrant heritage, and recommit ourselves to creating welcoming environments for all of our newcomers.

Boston has been a city of immigrants since its founding. Each wave of newcomers brought threads of culture from their homelands that, woven together, became the fabric of our City’s identity. Today, many Bostonians have a connection to another place in the world. 27 percent of our residents were born in another country, and nearly half of our public school students have at least one foreign-born parent. My own parents came from Ireland in the 1950s. Growing up in an immigrant household in Boston shaped who I am and how I see the city.

As Bostonians, we know that when we come together as one community and one city, we are stronger. We all have a responsibility to take care of one another as neighbors. That is how immigrant communities thrived, and that is how we make our city better – by reaching out in a meaningful way. That could mean taking time to mentor a young person. It could mean volunteering at a senior center. It could mean advocating for your community, to make life better for you and your neighbors.

We need that community spirit to fuel the great institutions of American democracy. That’s why we encourage civic engagement – through voting, serving on a jury, or even running for office. Of course, these steps require citizenship. And that’s a roadblock that too many immigrants face, despite being longtime and legal residents.

I encourage eligible residents to apply for citizenship, and I’m committed to helping them do so. In June, I signed a Letter of Agreement with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to increase awareness and knowledge about citizenship. We’re making information widely available – online, at our public library branches, and through outreach in our communities. Our Office of New Bostonians is partnering with Project Citizenship for a second year to hold Citizenship Day in Boston on September 26 at the Timilty School in Roxbury. This year for National Welcoming Week, let’s do something especially positive. Let’s reach out to our newcomers, and show them that Boston is a city that embraces all who want to live and thrive here.