NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Cities To Immigrants: Come, Be Our Citizens

May 30, 2001

Not long ago, many city officials viewed immigrants as a drain on public services and workers saw them as potential competitors for jobs. Now many cities with declining populations are courting immigrants to move in and populate shrinking neighborhoods, fill labor shortages and inject greater ethnic diversity in their communities.

Here are the strategies being followed by some cities to attract immigrants:

  • Four Pittsburgh groups have been awarded $800,000 in foundation grants in the past month alone to help lure immigrants with jobs, encourage foreign students to stay after graduation and teach the community about international diversity.
  • Philadelphia is considering a plan that would create an "Office of New Philadelphians," which would promote the city in American consulates abroad and require more gates at its airport for flights to and from Latin America and Asia.
  • In Louisville, Ky., a new city office of international and cultural affairs plans to post a list of interpreters on the Internet by the end of next month for community service providers to use.
  • Albuquerque appropriated $50,000 to create a resource program for immigrants.

The fledgling efforts to attract immigrants have just begun in most cities. And demographers express caution about whether civic leaders can influence immigration patterns.

Source: Eric Schmitt, "To Fill in Gaps, Shrinking Cities Seek a New Wave of Foreigners," New York Times, May 30, 2001.


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