Santo Domingo East in the Dominican Republic opened its doors Friday morning to Allentown Mayor Matt Tuerk and a delegation from the Lehigh Valley, including City Council President Cynthia Mota, who was born in Santo Domingo East.

"This is amazing, I'm speechless," Mota said.

Inside, there was a display of friendship and desire to create a sisterhood between the two cities.

Tuerk received the key to the City of Santo Domingo East as a symbol of unity to promote mutual respect and collaboration to enhance the lives of Dominicans living in the Valley. Tuerk is the first mayor of Hispanic descent in Allentown and to receive this recognition during Hispanic Heritage Month honors his roots.

Mota, who is the first Latino woman in her position, also received a proclamation as a daughter of Santo Domingo East.

The 2020 Census reports that more than 54% of the population in Allentown identifies itself as Latino or Hispanic. Of those, about 18,000 are Dominicans, according to Tuerk.

Mota and the mayor's next step is to create a resolution to formally join the cities together.

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