Divided council moves forward with Welcoming Communities proposal

ENCINITAS — A divided city council adopted a proposal for the city to fully commit to participating in a White House program that calls for communities to embrace its immigrant and refugee populations.

The council voted 3-2 on Feb. 24 on the recommendations brought forth by a subcommittee composed of council members Tony Kranz and Lisa Shaffer.

The city, since January, had been exploring participation in the Building Welcoming Communities Campaign, an initiative through the White House Task Force on New Americans aimed at encouraging communities to engage in local immigration and refugee integration efforts. The national program is in partnership with Welcome America, a national nonprofit with similar goals.

Kranz and Shaffer said the goal of the subcommittee was to see where the city could potentially add value to services already being provided across the county for immigrants, including through the county, San Diego 211, local community colleges and various nonprofit organizations.

The council’s vote memorialized the subcommittee’s seven recommendations, which included:

  • Joining the White House Task Force on New Americans’ Welcoming Communities Initiative
  • Working with existing nonprofits and stakeholders to develop an inventory of existing services throughout the area
  • Working with the library and social services providers to develop a volunteer registry, which would solicit volunteers and other resources
  • Obtaining demographic information about the immigrant and refugee populations in Encinitas
  • Developing a resolution for the City Council’s consideration, stating our commitment to being a welcoming community, and inviting civic, business, and nonprofit organizations to do the same, and share the resolution with other cities and encourage them to adopt similar ones
  • Visibly showing on the city website and other materials the commitment to the welcoming communities campaign.

Kranz said he believed the recommendations were fairly straightforward.

“I am kind of old school in this regards to my Christian faith, that not only our city, but our county and state should treat others the way that we want to be treated,” Kranz said. “I felt it was a fairly simple proposition.”

Kranz and Shaffer were joined by Catherine Blakespear in the vote of approval.

Mayor Kristin Gaspar and Councilman Mark Muir voted against the proposal. Gaspar said she didn’t think the city should be taking the lead on the activities, and Muir said he felt the subcommittee didn’t demonstrate why the city needed to be involved.

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