Gainesville became Florida’s first city to granted the title of a “Welcoming City” on Thursday.

Commissioners passed a resolution by unanimous consent to make the city more immigrant-friendly at the City Commission meeting. This was the third and final hearing to pass the title.

Paula Roetscher, a UF geography and sustainability studies senior, will become executive director of the nonprofit Welcoming Gainesville, Inc., which was incorporated in December 2015. She told commissioners what it means to become a welcoming city.

“A welcoming city is one that welcomes immigrants and foreigners no matter where they come from,” Roetscher, 21, said.

Mayor-Commissioner Pro Tempore Craig Carter asked if the resolution was necessary.

Roetscher replied Gainesville is already diverse and full of international students. By adopting the title, Gainesville will set an example for the rest of the state, she said.

“We can make it known to everyone,” she said. “This is a title not just given to anyone.”

Commissioner Harvey Budd said this title is relevant to him as an immigrant.

“A lot of the world doesn’t know we’re an international city,” he said. “In real business terms, it will make a difference in marketing this place.”

When the commission allowed for citizens to comment, officials from UF’s International Student Services offered support, while other residents thought the resolution was dangerous.

Darlene Pifalo said Gainesville is already friendly.

“I feel it’s an inground for illegals coming into the city,” she said.

Contact Molly Donovan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @Mollyidonovan.

(3) comments

joe stalin

no we do not want the rapefugees here like eurpe

joe stalin

islam is a sick and evil death cult

woodysil

With all the Islamic ISIS trouble around the world you folks decided to put your heads in the sand. Let's welcome all the Mid-Eastern Refugee's here to Gainesville, we all know how well our Government can vet refugee's. They can't find a terrorist who's carrying a big sign saying "I'm a terrorist" and waving a "black flag". You folks have truly overstepped your authority, this issue should have been voted on by the residents of Gainesville. And for god sake why put a young 21 year old in charge of the program; being book smart is not enough! You folks really disappoint me!!!

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