Citizens Proejct Response to Colorado Springs Anti-Refugee Resolution

On March 7, 2016 Colorado Springs Council Member Pico presented imagesresolution “declaring opposition the the relocation of refugees from the United States Refugee Resettlement Program to the City of Colorado Springs.” Citizens Project was quick to respond by contacting every Council Member to express deep concern. The resolution is not currently on the City Council Agenda, which is a small success. We look forward to being an important part of a needed community conversation about how to best welcome and resettle refugees in our community.
The following letter to the editor was published in The Gazette on March 11, 2016.
Since our inception, Citizens Project has championed respect for diversity and has taken action to ensure that everyone in our community is treated equally and fairly. We aspire to create a community in which people from every walk of life and religion come together to call Colorado Springs home. The resolution introduced in our City Council chambers this week puts at risk the tireless efforts of community members over decades to build our reputation as an open and welcoming city. Put simply, we believe that it is never appropriate to encourage exclusionary behavior.

It is essential that policy reflect the will of the whole community, and the resounding outcry against the resolution was a strong indication that the proposed policy was neither a solution to a real problem nor representative of the views of the community. We at Citizens Project were heartened that City Council members listened to the people they represent at this week’s meeting, and we are prepared to lead conversations to ensure deeper understanding of the complex issues surrounding Syrian refugee resettlement.

Our approach is to gather as much information as possible about a situation and then engage in thoughtful community dialogues. Citizens Project is eager to engage with state agencies, local agencies, faith communities, and citizens to come together to learn about the scope of Syrian refugee resettlement in our community. We hope to work together to develop solutions and ideas about how we can best accept these families and ensure that they are welcomed and supported. As always, our process will be open and inclusive to all input. Colorado Springs residents can expect us to host more events like the recent panel discussion that we co-sponsored with the Colorado Springs World Affairs Council, “Understanding Muslim Communities At Home and Abroad” and we encourage all people to be informed and engage.

We are better as a community when we don’t allow ourselves to be reduced to fear-based reaction, and we need all voices at the table to ensure that our formal – and informal – policies represent the wholeness and diversity of our community.

Deb Walker, Citizens Project

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