I was glad to attend the recent opening of the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, with the goal of offering a collaborative space to immigrant entrepreneurs. Alain Nahimana, an immigrant from Burundi, and Damas Rugaba, an immigrant from Rwanda, came up with the idea to create a shared co-working space.

The center, which is equipped with the latest technology, will offer more resources to immigrant-led initiatives. I particularly support the idea that collaboration between immigrants and the host population could lead to more achievement and integration. The diversity within the center’s board of directors speaks for itself.

Portland, as many other places in the United States, had been welcoming immigrants from all over the world. Immigrants are bringing with them the burden of horror encountered in countries of origin, but also skills that can be an added value to their new country. From Sergey Brin, who is from Russia and the co-founder of Google, through Jerry Yang, who is from China and the co-founder of Yahoo, to Alain Nahimana and Damas Rugaba, immigrants have always grown the U.S. economy.

Initiatives like the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center are able to reverse the wrong narrative that immigrants are coming to the U.S. to take advantage of social safety nets like General Assistance.

My words cannot express how grateful I am to Sen. Angus King, who was the key speaker during the center’s opening ceremonies. Sen. King reminded the captivated crowd that the United States was built by immigration and he called for ending the narrative of hatred against immigrants. I would like to invite President Trump and Gov. LePage to follow King’s appeal and focus on real issues.

Philemon Dushimire


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