Aurora Working to Integrate Immigrants and Refugees

By Susan M. Thornton, Chair

The City of Aurora is moving forward to welcome and integrate people from around the world.  Nearly one in five people in the city of approximately 340,000 was born in another country.

A new Aurora Welcome Center has been developed in partnership with the city’s new Office of International and Immigrant Affairs.  The Welcome Center is housed in a building owned by Aurora Public Schools.  Initial funding is from the private sector and nonprofits.

Aurora Public Schools has established a new Community Corps Liaison program, designed to recruit and train volunteers to work with international students in the schools.  More than 1,000 volunteers are now involved, according to APS Superintendent D. Rico Munn.

And a three-year planning process, with public input, will focus on citizenship and civic involvement; small business training; public safety awareness; and outreach via sports and recreation, such as a new Aurora International Soccer Club, for example.

Let’s hope that other communities will be inspired by Aurora’s example to think about ways to integrate newcomers into the fabric of their civic life.