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National Welcoming Week Nets "Major Results" in NY

September 21, 2012

NEW YORK – National Welcoming Week, an effort to promote meaningful talks on immigration, has netted some big results in New York. It's being viewed as a major change for Suffolk County, according to Maryann Slutsky, director of Long Island Wins.

Under the past administration, says Slutsky, people who wanted to talk constructively about immigration were "drowned out with negative rhetoric." That's why she's pleased that County Executive Steve Bellone decided to host National Welcoming Week in Suffolk County.

"This really represents an important change in tone. They're embracing the immigration community and the immigration advocacy community. They are ready to listen to us and they're ready to work with us."

Twenty states are taking part in National Welcoming Week. Slutsky says it is a time dedicated to promoting meaningful connections and a spirit of unity between U.S.-born and foreign-born Americans.

The week's event in Happague included a reading and discussion of a book about a Long Island Latina worker. According to Slutsky, the story was an eye-opener for some, about the struggles faced by people who now live next door.

"So, that's what Welcoming Week is trying to highlight: Who are our new neighbors? What was their life like, and what it is like now? And how can we promote a deeper understanding and really begin to work together, as a community?"

Slutsky says the Bellone administration is already looking at ways that similar storytelling projects can be used to promote a deeper understanding of immigrant issues in their dealings with government agencies.

Information about National Welcoming Week is online at www.welcomingamerica.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY