During the Mayor Ethan Berkowitz era, Anchorage became what is known as a “Welcoming City,” which is very much the same thing as a “sanctuary city,” but with a different name — it’s a place for illegal immigrants to feel welcome. The former mayor’s wife led the charge on the initiative and headed up the immigrant-welcoming program.
Fast forward to 2023: An ordinance by the Assembly that has the city work toward becoming an official “Welcoming City,” with a certificate as one, was vetoed by Mayor Dave Bronson today. There’s too much paperwork and redundancy, he said.
“This ordinance is a solution in search of a problem. Our Office of Equal Opportunity and Office of Equity and Justice recently passed their annual audit with flying colors. In addition, both offices have public visibility in advocating for their respective missions: equal opportunity, and equity for those who are disadvantaged. There is no good reason to burden these offices — and, by extension, Anchorage taxpayers — with additional data requirements as contemplated in the ordinance,” says the memo from Bronson to the Assembly.
WelcomingAmerica.org says that being a certified Welcoming City “is a formal designation for cities and counties that have created policies and programs reflecting their values and commitment to immigrant inclusion.”
But it also means more bureaucrats pushing papers for “diversity, equity, inclusion” goals, or DEI, as many call them.
“The Assembly has imposed this burden because some members want Anchorage to become a Certified Welcoming City, as determined by the national nonprofit Welcoming America. This is a misguided policy decision. Welcoming America is a grantee of George Soros’ Open Society Foundation. As the founder of Welcoming America wrote on the Open Society Foundation webpage over 10 years ago, this nonprofit attempts to attract thousands of individuals and organizations who want to replicate the Welcoming work in their own communities,” Bronson wrote. “In other words, Certified Welcoming City is a product, and the Assembly would like Anchorage to be its newest customer.”
According to Welcoming America, “A Welcoming City or County is one that joins the Welcoming America network and works across multiple sectors, such as government, business, and non-profit, to create inclusive policies and practices such as making it easier for entrepreneurs to start a business or having government documents available in multiple languages. Welcoming Cities are guided by the principles of inclusion and creating communities that prosper because everyone feels welcome, including immigrants and refugees.”
Bronson said that Anchorage is already a welcoming city and has the most diverse schools in the country and vibrant immigrant communities. He sees no need to divert Anchorage tax dollars to a national certifying group that will tell the city what it already knows.
The 12-member Assembly is politically very far left and is likely to override the mayor’s veto of the Welcoming City program.