Lost in the unfortunately vitriolic and politicized debate about immigration these days is the fact that immigrants are often a major asset to cities. They obviously create more demand for goods and services, supply labor and, depending on concentration and other factors, fuel innovation. New York City’s clout offers a lesson on the power of a strong immigrant population.
That lesson hasn’t been lost on Baltimore, where city officials are going out of their way to woo immigrants:
In March, Rawlings-Blake prohibited police and social agencies from asking about immigration status, and asked federal immigration officials to explicitly tell people they arrest that they are not agents of the city. The city’s outreach to Latinos is particularly notable with city-run classes in Spanish. While more immigrant-specific initiatives are still under development, the mayor has launched a variety of programs to make Baltimore a more welcoming place, with goals of improving schools, lowering crime, lowering property taxes, and increasing jobs.
The mayor’s push to make Latinos feel welcome in Baltimore appears to be working.
The article goes on to mention how efforts in Baltimore seem to be working. It also mentions some of the benefits of specifically trying to draw immigrants to a city.
The important message here is that cities can create their own attitudes with respect to immigration. They can go out of their way to be welcoming and to value diversity. That seems like an obvious objective, though it doesn’t happen automatically and much of today’s political rhetoric is implicitly antagonistic to immigrants. For a city like Provo, reshaping that rhetoric could mean big cultural and economic payoffs.