In the heart of Georgia, the city of Clarkston has become a beacon for refugees and immigrants, and a platform for bold advocacy.
In a city of around 13,000, there are 40 nationalities represented, and 16 languages spoken.
That’s partly because of Ted Terry, the young mayor of Clarkston who gained national fame after getting a makeover on the hit Netflix series Queer Eye.
A community is only as strong as its people, the city of Clarkston is a shining example of a supportive and generous community in our country 🙌❤️🌟 pic.twitter.com/QRUtIzI0nk— Queer Eye (@QueerEye) July 4, 2018
Before the Fab Five arrived, Terry had been busy making over Clarkston to be more welcoming to people of diverse backgrounds, and he made a video appearance at the 2018 Global Citizen Festival in New York on Sept. 29 to speak about his commitment.
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The mayor participated because thousands of Global Citizens had tweeted at him to support the compact.
In a video message for the festival, he spoke about his support for the Global Compact for Migration, a framework of principles developed by the United Nations for how countries should manage migration and treat refugees and immigrants.
“I want to thank you all for tweeting me and encouraging me to have a role to play in the future for migration in the world,” he said on the stage. “Just met with the Mayor’s office of International Affairs and Global Citizen here in New York City, right around the corner from the United Nations, to talk about how the City of Clarkston can play a role in the future of Global Compact for Migration.”
“Clarkston is known as a city that’s been welcoming refugees for the last 35 years,” he added. “We know that our strength is in our diversity, our culture, and the uniqueness of our people.”
Commissioner @PAbeywardena welcomed Mayor @tedterry1 of @CityofClarkston to NYC ahead of #UNGA and next weekend’s #GlobalCitizen Festival! NYC & Clarkston know that on global issues like immigration, city leadership is more important than ever. #MigrationMayors#ForMigrationpic.twitter.com/3BNFOwlEdE— NYC International Affairs (@globalnyc) September 21, 2018
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The Global Compact for Migration was created in response to the largest refugee crisis in recorded history, which involves more than 65.8 million displaced persons, and surging migration levels across the world.
All around the world, countries have been closing their borders to refugees and migrants, and the compact was designed to encourage countries to consider the various causes and consequences of migration and how it can be better handled.
The framework also recognized climate change as a cause for migration, which will become increasingly relevant in the years ahead as natural disasters, rising sea levels, drought, and more displace whole communities.
The administration of US President Donald Trump pointedly abandoned the compact before negotiations for its adoption even began.
“Our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone,” Nikki Haley, former US Ambassador to the UN, said in a statement at the time. “We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country. The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with US sovereignty.”
Since then, mayors and political leaders in the US have announced their support for the compact.
“Cities are on the frontlines of resettling and supporting immigrants and refugees,” a spokesperson from the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrants Affairs told Foreign Policy earlier this year.
“Cities are pushing for a seat at the table at a time when many national leaders are increasingly isolationist – and even xenophobic – and disconnected from cities’ values of inclusivity and growth,” the spokesperson added.
Terry doesn’t have as large of a platform as de Blasio in New York, but through his savvy use of social media and diplomacy, he’s able to make the world more welcoming to refugees and migrants.
And having the Fab 5 on his team doesn’t hurt, either.