Immigration, opportunity, and rural America

Statement of the Center for Rural Affairs, April 2017

Amidst the turbulent political times for immigrants in our country, the Center for Rural Affairs reiterates its commitment to advancing a set of values that reflects the best of rural America. Among those values are RESPONSIBILITY placed upon each of us to contribute to our community and society, genuine OPPORTUNITY for all to earn a living, raise a family, and prosper in a rural place, and FAIRNESS that allows all who contribute to the nation’s prosperity to share in it.

Based on these values, we are committed to equity and inclusion for all residents of rural America. From the first Native people in North America to the present, waves of newcomers have shaped rural America into the place we are proud to call home. Today, immigrants, refugees, and US-born folks with roots all over the world are living their American dreams in rural America. As in generations past, shifting demographics bring challenges and change alongside tremendous opportunity and benefits.

We work through the challenges and embrace the changes because we know that diversity makes us stronger and more resilient. New ideas grow when we live in diverse communities. Rural economies thrive when new arrivals join. Towns become more stable and more vibrant when young families move in.

Across rural America, there are examples of small-town schools that are full again thanks to immigrants. We have seen towns once experiencing steep population loss that are stable or even growing as new immigrants arrive. With these new arrivals, many successful small businesses and even new farms are popping up. As new leaders emerge, they help make their towns stronger. All of this brings renewed opportunity to rural America.

The Center for Rural Affairs will continue on as we have always done: fighting the good fight for everyone, in small towns and rural areas across the country. This includes Native Americans, the first residents of this land. It includes the descendants of all those who have come to call rural America home over the centuries. And it includes those who have arrived here recently in search of a new life.

The Center leads several initiatives to include rural America’s newest residents in advancing our shared values. We are working with new Latino-owned businesses. Our New American Loan Fund is helping Latino entrepreneurs access the credit they need to succeed. Our bilingual and bicultural farmer training programs offer skill building to Latino farmers in production, business, and marketing to launch successful farms. Our intercultural leadership programs help leaders of all ethnicities and backgrounds in newly diverse towns build inclusivity into the fabric of thriving rural communities.

At the Center for Rural Affairs, our values guide us to come together despite our differences and to work together for a better future. We invite you to join us in putting the values of responsibility, opportunity, and fairness into action in our shared work on behalf of strong rural communities.