On Feb. 13, officials in Royal Oak established the city as a “Welcoming City,” to affirm Royal Oak as “a place where all foreign-born and native-born Americans can live, work, and play together, share in each other’s customs and ideals, and appreciate and promote cultural diversity.”
In a recent Patch report, Carol Schwanger of Welcoming Michigan said, “This is an important step for Royal Oak to take. It sends a positive signal. In the rush to stereotype people, it’s going to take education to disavow those stereotypes. In America, we’re all Americans, and we don’t have to all be alike to fit in our society.”
One important distinction, Schwanger said, is that the action doesn’t mean Royal Oak is a “sanctuary city” and federal funding isn’t in jeopardy. In January, President Trump signed an executive order that cracks down on sanctuary cities that shield undocumented immigrants. The order came with the implicit threat that the federal government would withhold federal funds to those local governments that offer sanctuary to illegal immigrants.
The state and a growing list of counties and cities are part of the Welcoming America Initiative, based on the belief that communities are stronger when everyone feels welcome and valued, including immigrants and refugees. Members are cities, counties and organizations.
Other Michigan members of the Welcoming America network include the communities of Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Clinton Township, Detroit, East Lansing, Hamtramck, Lansing, Meridian, Sterling Heights and West Bloomfield; the counties of Macomb and Kalamazoo; and the Michigan Office for New Americans.