As many cities have begun to turn away from being “welcoming” or “sanctuary” cities, the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, seems to be heading in the opposite direction.
Activists for migrants were celebrating this week by designating Tulsa as its newest “Welcoming City.” The designation comes after Mayor G.T. Bynum and members of the city council enacted several measures since September to make the city a more desirable destination for illegal migrants.
The group Welcoming America has helped cities across America create, promote, and guide efforts to create conditions better for migrants in American cities.
One of the efforts by Tulsa was the Asian Affairs Commission enacted by Mayor Bynum in September, the group says. The new commission will focus on workforce and economic development, education, and civic engagement, according to KOSU.
During his State of the City address on November 2, Bynum also announced that the city hired an immigrant services liaison to connect immigrants with jobs in Tulsa.
“The work of Catholic Charities, the YWCA, B’nai Emunah Synagogue and so many others led President Biden’s top aid for refugee resettlement to come to Tulsa to see how we were handling it, because he wanted to use us as a model for other cities around the country,” Bynum said during his address.
The initiatives formed part of Bynum’s campaign for mayor, as well. On his website, Bynum promised to launch “the New Tulsans Initiative, which is focused on making Tulsa a beacon of freedom and opportunity for immigrants all around the world.”
Tulsa is now one of 18 cities and counties that Welcoming America has lavished with its “Welcoming City” designation.
Still, illegals make up but a small part of Oklahoma’s population. According to the American Immigration Council, in 2018 there were only 236,882 immigrants of all sorts in the state, making up just six percent of the population. In 2016 the group estimated there were 85,000 undocumented aliens. And according to the Migration Policy Institute, there were still only 90,000 by 2019.
Unlike in Tulsa, a place that seems safely distanced from wave after wave of illegal migration, cities such as New York and Chicago are knee deep in political arguments over eliminating sanctuary city policies that have made them a target.