Tulsans are generally supportive of immigrants — those in the country legally, anyway — Mayor G.T. Bynum said Friday during a Zoom panel discussion sponsored by New American Economy, a national advocate for immigration policies focused on the economy and jobs.
“The biggest lesson I’ve learned is the level of support for helping the immigrant community is high,” Bynum said.
But for the most part, Bynum framed that acceptance in terms of properly documented immigrants. While the other two panelists, Republican lawmakers from Nebraska and South Dakota, were quizzed about how their states were handling DACA residents — people brought to the country illegally as children — Bynum repeatedly made reference to swearing in ceremonies for new U.S. citizens.
“Nothing I post (on social media) gets broader support than those ceremonies,” Bynum said.
He was asked primarily about his administration’s New Tulsans program, which seeks to integrate immigrants into the community.
Among other things, Bynum said, the program provides legal assistance for those seeking citizenship, and it also seeks to involve them in city government.
“It’s important to me that we make sure (immigrants) are represented on boards,” he said.
“One of the challenges we’ve found is that, as mayor, I tend to appoint people I know or who put themselves forward. In the immigrant community, that’s not the mindset. I have to let them know, ‘No, really, I want you engaged.’”
Bynum said immigrants come to America and to Tulsa because they see opportunity, and he said that opportunity should be fulfilled.
“I want Tulsa to live up to the faith they’ve put in us,” Bynum said. “We want to be a welcoming city. We want them to play a role in it right now. I don’t want them to have to wait a generation or two.”