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Nashville's Office of New Americans Is First in Southeast U.S.

PHOTO: With one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations of any U.S. city, Nashville is launching an Office of New Americans to help immigrants adapt, succeed, and ultimately benefit Nashville's economy. Photo credit: Kyle Simourd/Flickr.
PHOTO: With one of the fastest-growing immigrant populations of any U.S. city, Nashville is launching an Office of New Americans to help immigrants adapt, succeed, and ultimately benefit Nashville's economy. Photo credit: Kyle Simourd/Flickr.
September 23, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - As the debate over immigration policy continues in Tennessee and across the nation, Nashville continues to move ahead with its own efforts to engage and empower immigrants who call the city home.

On Monday, Mayor Karl Dean signed an executive order to create an Office of New Americans, nothing that embracing Nashville's growing diversity will only make the city stronger. Among those applauding the move is Eben Cathey, communications coordinator with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.

"What's really exciting about this office is that it's going to help develop new initiatives to facilitate immigrant integration as well as strengthen some existing programs that Nashville already has," says Cathey, "like our mayor's New American Advisory Council or MyCity Academy or the Parent Ambassadors program."

The number of foreign-born residents in Nashville has more than doubled over the past decade, and those born outside of the U.S. now make up more than 12 percent of the city's population.

Cathey says this new office, along with the other efforts, show that civic, business and faith leaders are realizing the benefits of welcoming immigrants to the city.

"Reducing barriers to integration is good for our whole community here in Nashville," he says. "And I think our state is increasingly becoming a welcoming state. In the long run, I think we're going to see that pay dividends by creating a stronger economy and creating a more vibrant culture."

The Office of New Americans will host its first event on October 2nd, with a panel discussion at the Sonny West Conference Center.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - TN