Gainesville Mayor Poe Counters Trump’s Immigration Stances with Message of Inclusivity

The City of Gainesville, as of last February, has been declared a “Welcoming City”. (Unmodified photo via Michael Rivera used under a Creative Commons license

Within a few days of President Trump’s inauguration, Lauren Poe, Mayor of the City of Gainesville, restated his support for making Gainesville a “safe haven for all people”.

Going back to last November, in the aftermath of Trump’s election, Mayor Poe, a registered Democrat, has repeatedly attempted to make it clear that Gainesville, as he articulates, will remain a “Welcoming City”.

In last February become the first “Welcoming City” in the entire state of Florida, Gainesville joined a nationwide network known as “Welcoming America”, which, according to its website, hopes to “provide the roadmap and support [cities] need to become more inclusive toward immigrants and all residents.”

Welcoming America connects leaders in local communities, municipal government, and the non-profit sector to provide resources and support for immigrants. They aim to create new policies, reinforce welcoming principles, and communicate the socioeconomic benefits of inclusion.

Welcoming Gainesville, a non-profit organization in Gainesville, is trying to promote the inclusion of immigrants and increase support for their presence in Gainesville. By printing signs with such statements as, “No matter where you are from, we’re glad you’re our neighbor” in Spanish, English and Arabic, they hope to spread a message that is accepting and, indeed, welcoming of diversity. Poe has shown support for this organization by, for instance, being the first to receive one of their signs and agreeing to display it in his office.

Mayor Poe has shown his support for this vision through other mediums as well.

Last November, after a march for immigration reform took place in Gainesville, Poe addressed the growing uncertainty about the position a potential Trump administration could take on the topic, saying that, “Gainesville will serve as a safe haven for all people, regardless of how you worship, who you love, what color your skin is or what language you speak.”

Furthermore, through his Twitter account, he recently replied to the question, “Is Gainesville planning to become a #santuarycity ? If not, why?”, with, “we have gone further and declared ourselves a #welcomingcity.”

The possibility of Gainesville becoming a “sanctuary city”, which was defined by CNN as “a broad term applied to jurisdictions that have policies in place designed to limit cooperation with or involvement in federal immigration enforcement actions”, still exists. Some would argue that the first step towards this happening has been taken in Gainesville becoming a Welcoming City.

It is more likely than not that Poe’s public declarations of support for the views and initiatives of organizations such as Welcoming Gainesville will become more frequent and unmistakable. After all, he has not been hesitant to express his views regarding the topic on previous occasions and he has firmly stated that he will continue to encourage diversity in the city.

Whether more robust measures will be taken to do so still remains to be seen, however, based on Poe’s recent actions and statements, we can only expect continued support towards immigrants from both the city administration and local progressive organizations.

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