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Crains: Cleveland Must Be Better at Attracting Immigrants

Crains: Cleveland Must Be Better at Attracting Immigrants

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: Richard Herman, Cleveland Immigration Lawyer on Apr 16, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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The mayor of Baltimore recently announced plans to attract 10,000 newfamilies to her city in the next 10 years. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blaketold members of Baltimore's Latino community that they are critical to thisnew initiative to reverse population decline and grow the economy.Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has waged a similar repopulation strategy,aggressively targeting immigrants, and with profound effect. Thanks tonewly arrived cultures, Philadelphia added population last decade for the firsttime in 60 years.The strategy of attracting immigrants to repopulate and revitalize a city isnot new. Former Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell once vowed to push thecity's population back over 500,000, in part, by welcoming immigrantfamilies and immigrant entrepreneurs. Most of the civic leadership ignoredher idea, and Cleveland's population plummeted to 397,000 by 2010, thesecond-largest decline of any major American city not hit by a hurricane.
Monday, April 16, 2012|
Cleveland must be better at attracting immigrants
By RICHARD HERMAN and ROBERTO TORRES  4:30 am, April 16, 2012
In the recent past, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga CountyExecutive Ed FitzGerald have expressed support for welcoming immigrants,but they apparently have delegated that task to Global Cleveland, whichdoes not seem to be doing the job.Global Cleveland recently opened its offices on Euclid Avenue near PublicSquare to much fanfare. Those of us who worked for years to create aninternational welcome center are so far unimpressed.Instead of throwing out a welcome mat to immigrants and refugees andbranding Cleveland an immigrant-friendly city, the staff at the Welcome Hub
talk about attracting “newcomers” and “boomerangers,” especially those
who can work in the region's medical and biotechnology fields.We need everyone we can get, certainly, but focusing on a highly educatedfew is not the answer. This timid approach does little to attract the kinds of numbers Cleveland needs just to sustain itself, let alone repopulate andsoar.Contrast that effort with what is happening in Dayton and Detroit, wherecivic initiatives invite a new generation of immigrants to buy and renovateabandoned homes, build neighborhoods, launch businesses and join themosaic.Global Detroit was, in fact, developed in part by Clevelanders who couldn'tfind support in Cleveland.The Detroit initiative, led by Steve Tobocman, former majority leader of theMichigan House of Representatives, has sparked widespread interest in the
power of immigrants. Detroit Mayor Dave Bing plans to launch soon anOffice of Immigrant Affairs. The Republican governor of Michigan, Rick
Snyder, now likes to refer to himself as the “most pro
-immigrant governor in
the country.” He recently launched a statewide initi
ative, Global Michigan.Dayton Mayor Gary Leitzell likes to go on national television and say that helooks at immigrants and sees a path to a more entrepreneurial, global anddiverse future. He is fond of quoting studies saying that immigrants aretwice as likely to start a business as native-born Americans.
Curiously, Global Cleveland's leaders rarely use the “I” word to describe their
plans and programs.This omission is shocking. Global Cleveland grew out of a grassrootsmovement to revitalize Cleveland by welcoming immigrants and refugees.The founders were inspired by the Welcoming Center for NewPennsylvanians, which helped revive Philadelphia, and a 2010 plan crafted
by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland that is bluntly titled, “Cleveland Needs
 More Immigrants: Why and How to Welcome More Foreign-
Born Residents.” 
Now we are at an inflection point. We hope Global Cleveland can recapturethe community-driven conversation focused on creating an immigrant-friendly city. To do this, it will need an urban revitalization strategy, as wellas an appeal to Latinos, the most powerful demographic force in Americatoday.We should welcome all immigrants, even those who don't have advanceddegrees. Most of our ancestors arrived in America with only grit anddetermination. Many of them started businesses and raised children who

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