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Immigration Friendly Attitudes at the Local Level in Cities

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Around the country, many cities are embracing immigrants new to their communities and promoting integration.  The oftentimes-negative rhetoric concerning immigration policy relating to  the inaction of Congress does not necessarily influence the immigration-friendly attitudes at the local level. These newcomers are indeed adapting and becoming consumers, business owners, homeowners, etc. and contributing their purchasing power, which is helping the local economies grow.

Cities with more favorable outlooks towards immigration include Ohio cities of Cincinnati, Springfield, Dayton and Columbus as well as big city centers like Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis and Atlanta.  In Cincinnati for example, Mayor Cranley proclaimed, “This is a country of immigrants, and this is a place where immigration is rewarded and thanked.”  This is the sentiment of the “melting pot” that so many value about the United States.  Cincinnati’s task force is concentrating on the following:  economic development, community resources, education and talent retention, international relationships, and rights and safety.

The favorable outlook towards immigration at the local level is not simply out of a sense of goodwill; local leaders are seeing the economic and developmental value immigrants have for their communities.  The more welcoming approach shared by some American cities should serve as an example towards redefining our national public policy.

But is it easier to promote these values of integration at a local level where the issue of national security may not necessarily be felt as strongly?  The realities of local communities and the public policy of a nation may have drastically different concerns to confront.  Yet what is important to note in these immigration friendly cities, is that action is being taken.  Community leaders are taking in migrants, celebrating different cultures and integrating them into their constituency.  As we wait for immigration reform to become a reality, these communities are at least offering a welcoming atmosphere.

In addition to the economic development achieved in more inclusive communities, local leaders are recognizing the importance of offering a welcoming atmosphere to unaccompanied migrants.  Many see this as a basic duty in a nation seeking to promote civil and human rights.   These unaccompanied child migrants are fleeing devastating circumstances in their home countries to make the treacherous journey to the unknown, which they can only hope will offer them peace and security.  As these children wait for their cases to be adjudicated, they are left vulnerable.  Local leaders are responding to their constituents who want these unaccompanied minors welcomed and cared for.  They seek to provide these basic rights as best as they can to the migrants while Congress continues to stall at improving a flawed immigration system.

We need to recognize that immigration is beneficial to the country as a whole, and enriches the nation’s cultural identity, grows the economy and ensures global competitiveness. These local governments are realizing that they don’t have to wait on Congress to start policies that promote an inclusive culture and community.  While we wait on comprehensive immigration reform, the strides being made across the nation at the local level to benefit the economy cannot be ignored and should be applauded.

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