Established in 2009, Welcoming America (WA) is committed to empowering a broad network of nonprofit groups, local governments, and institutions (such as businesses, schools, and universities), to “transform” neighborhoods nationwide into “inclusive communities” that “embrac[e] immigrants” and make them “feel like they belong.” As investigative journalist James Simpson puts it, the goal is “to force Americans to accept mass immigration,” without ever addressing the very considerable “problems created by immigrant populations that have no concept of our constitutional republic and no interest in assimilating.”
WA pursues these objectives via various channels, including the use of billboards, social media, sympathetic news features, and “facilitated contact” between citizens and immigrants. WA also operates a Welcoming Institute that provides training, education, customized coaching, and technical assistance to immigrants and their advocates. Between 2009-15, this Institute taught more than 2,000 organizations and 10,000 individuals how to “counteract the dominant [negative] media messages about immigrants”; “promote immigrant integration and receiving community engagement”; facilitate the development of entrepreneurship and “financial literacy” among immigrants; and demand that American institutions increase their own “cultural competency” in dealing with newcomers to the United States.
Another key WA project is its Welcoming Economies Global Network, administered in partnership with Global Detroit. This Network of immigrant economic development organizations is active in cities and regions across ten U.S. states between New York and Minnesota/Iowa.
Much of WA’s agenda originally grew out of the Building New American Communities initiative, a three-year project that the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement began funding around the turn of the 21st century in an effort to get immigrants more involved in the American political process. A key stepping stone toward the establishment of WA was “Welcoming Iowa,” a short-term project in 2004 that sought to improve the climate for that state’s growing immigrant population. Two years later, the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition’s “Welcoming Tennessee Initiative” built on the successes of its Iowa forerunner and became the model for all subsequent Welcoming campaigns. Then, in July 2007, the Four Freedoms Fund convened the leaders of seven organizations that were interested in launching Welcoming campaigns of their own. This led, ultimately, to the formation of WA as a national entity.
WA has received financial support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Four Freedoms Fund, the Intercultural Innovation Award, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, the JPB Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and Unbound Philanthropy. And because WA is recognized as a technical assistance provider by the federal government, from 2012-14 the Department of Health & Human Services—through its “Fostering Community Engagement & Welcoming Communities” program—awarded the organization six grants totaling $443,758.
WA’s agendas were further promoted in November 2014, when President Barack Obama issued an executive order creating the White House Task Force on New Americans, which in turn drafted “A Federal Strategic Action Plan on Immigrant & Refugee Integration.” According to WCBM Radio contributor Sue Payne, the objective of this Task Force was to normalize the status of illegal immigrants as quickly as possible, and to nurture them—with cash, medical care, and numerous additional publicly funded benefits—as “seedlings” that would eventually blossom into agents of a racially and ethnically transformed society. Led by WA, this campaign’s original national partners were the Cisneros Center for New Americans, IMPRINT, NALEO, the National Council of La Raza, the National Partnership for New Americans, the National Skills Coalition, the Partnership for a New American Economy, the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, World Education Services, and the YMCA of the USA.
When President Obama in 2014-15 called for the importation of many thousands of refugees from the war- and terrorism-ravaged nation of Syria, WA spearheaded an aggressive public-relations campaign wherein nine organizations—including five Christian nonprofit groups—strove to “elevate the voices of the compassionate majority” in “support of Syrian refugees.” Funded by the White House’s $1 billion U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program, the State Departmant indicated that the aim of this initiative was to crush all “pockets of resistance” to Muslim migration into the United States.
The founder of WA is David Lubell, who has been the organization’s executive director since October of 2009. Lubell formerly served as executive director of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, and prior to that, as an advocacy and organizing director of Latino Memphis. In a December 2014 speech at Tennessee’s Casa Azafran, President Obama publicly lauded Lubell for his efforts on behalf of immigrant communities. He further honored Lubell by inviting him for a ride aboard Air Force One.