If someone else wanted to try to draw immigrants to Cleveland, "I will not be against it," Jackson told The Plain Dealer in early 2009. "However, as we move ahead, I'm always interested in theself-help mode, in taking care of our own."
Apart, from his words, his actions over the last 7 ½ years also tell the story.Starting with his treatment of the Somali and Ethiopian-owned taxi companies whowere excluded from working at the Hopkins Airport, failure to hire immigrants insignificant positions at City Hall, and extending to his disinterest to implementimmigrant-friendly policies at City Hall
, the Mayor’s actions have spoken volumeson his view of immigrants and their role in Cleveland’s economic, political and
civic circles.Rather than try to unite the city and lead this discussion on diversity, inclusion andglobal competitiveness, the Mayor has run away from the challenge. And the cityhas suffered and fallen behind other cities which are now growing.Dr. Kaufman argues that people-based strategies are key to attracting theimmigrants most likely to come to Cleveland. It is true, as Dr. Kaufman point out,that immigrants coming to cities like Cleveland are often drawn by personalrelationships.
I couldn’t agree more. Taking care of the immigrants we have, supporting them,
celebrating them, connecting and integrating them into our community is key.When they are comfortable and successful, their family and friends will follow
But I respectfully disagree with Dr. Kaufman’s recent piece that seems to suggestthat because resources are scarce, we shouldn’t be investin
g so much in people- based strategies.
I believe that the creation of an “immigrant
friendly” city will not happen
organically, at least not within the next few generations. For it to happen in thenext 10 years, we will need to make a big push for raising awareness on whyimmigration is important to Cleveland, on changing attitudes, on policies of inclusion at all levels of local government, corporations, foundations, etc.