DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Sanctuary cities are getting a lot of heat. These cities are considered safe havens where officials will not prosecute or punish undocumented immigrants. One of those sanctuary cities is San Francisco.
The City by the Bay is where officials say a man deported at least 5 times killed an innocent woman.
Some think Dayton is one of those sanctuary cities. 2 NEWS confirmed it is not, but the Gem City is open and welcoming to immigrants.
Nearly 250 people pile into various sessions at the Dayton Convention Center on Thursday for the WE Global Network Conference.
Attendees hope to learn how immigrants could bring an economic boost to their cities, and how to become a more immigrant-friendly community.
The Gem City was applauded by the conference for its efforts through Welcome Dayton.
“Between 2009 and 2012 we saw an increase in our immigrant population by 70 percent. We have seen immigrants create businesses two times the rate of the native born population,” said Melissa Bertolo, the program coordinator for Welcome Dayton
She describes the city-wide initiative as a welcome mat, where people step in and learn about available resources and ways to fully thrive in the community.
Not everyone has been supportive of the city-wide effort, fearing Dayton is a sanctuary city just without the title attached.
“We’re not a sanctuary city,” Bertolo assured. “We really are about being an inclusive city and making sure that everyone has opportunities.”
And the program coordinator believes there’s something in it for everyone.
“There’s the aspect of–if you’re looking out for your own self interest piece of it– immigrants are job creators in our community and that they really– in addition to the economic piece there’s a lot of cultural aspect as well,” Bertolo explained.
City officials say economy and culture are just a few of the powerful tools immigrants bring towards growing the Gem City.