Immigration Makes Boise a More Exciting Place to Live, Says Idaho NGO Founders

More than 25 years ago, Laura and Nick Armstrong moved to Java, Indonesia. A big motivation was their Christian faith. “We wanted to work with marginalized people,” Laura explains. “We wanted to reach out to those who are in need.” Laura, who has a background in education, taught abroad. Nick, who has an MBA, worked for the relief organization World Renew. They raised two children in Java and saw how interacting with people of various ethnicities and religions enriched their family.

The exposure to new ideas and cultural diversity is enriching.

“You begin to understand people more as real people,” Nick says. “You begin to see them not as a label like ‘Muslim’ or ‘Javanese,’ but as your neighbors and friends.”

In 2013, the Armstrongs returned to Boise. In June 2014, just six months after their arrival, they founded Glocal (the name is a cross between “global” and “local”) to foster more interaction between refugees and local residents. Glocal pairs Idaho volunteers with refugee families.

In addition to their work with the refugee community, the Armstrongs are strong supporters of comprehensive immigration reform. “One reason is pragmatic,” Nick says. “Study after study has shown that after a certain amount of time, immigrants’ contributions in the form of taxes and consumer demand can grow the local economy.”

And then there is the more intangible benefit of having a diverse populace. “The exposure to new ideas and cultural diversity is enriching,” Laura says. Something that struck her when they returned to Boise—after almost 25 years away—was to see how much more diverse it had become. “When we left in 1990, Boise was a not multicultural city,” Laura explains. “Now, you see different cultures here, more ethnic restaurants. It’s made the city a more interesting place.”

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…