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Immigrants in New York City and Lessons for Cleveland

Last week, our office had the pleasure of hosting Mayor Frank Jackson and Asian Community leaders for a dialogue on how to improve Cleveland’s relationship with immigrants, businesses, and make the city a more welcoming place for newcomers. It was a very productive meeting as the Mayor reiterated his support for welcoming immigrants and took questions from community leaders. The meeting focused on how welcoming and supporting immigrants can benefit all Clevelanders and the city as a whole. It turns out, this discussion is quite topical. A new study from the Americas Society/Council of Americas shows just how powerful a force immigration is in combating crime, reversing population decline, and stabilizing home values in cities. Called “Immigration and New York City: The Contributions of Foreign-Born Americans to New York’s Renaissance, 1975-2013”, the report finds that without new immigrants the city would have higher rates of crime and a less stable housing market.

Neighborhoods like Chinatown in Manhattan, Morrisania in the Bronx, Kew Gardens in Queens, and Canarsie in Brooklyn have seen an increase in foreign-born residents over the decades. Just as native New Yorkers were leaving these neighborhoods for the suburbs, immigrants came in and bought homes, paid taxes and created a demand for goods and services. It’s estimated that without these immigrants, the city would have lost $500 billion in taxes over the last 30 years. It’s also easy to imagine that those houses would have been abandoned and the neighborhoods deserted and riddled with crime if it hadn’t been for immigrants settling there. Neighborhoods that have higher levels of immigration actually have lower crime rates.

The report also highlights New York City’s commitment to welcoming immigrants and the role that the Office of Immigrant Affairs and Mayor Bloomberg has played in supporting the city’s newcomers. The city offers microloans, entrepreneurship training and free translation and interpretation services at all city agencies. Furthermore, the city is committed to keeping confidential the immigration status of people who interact with law enforcement or the city government.

Cleveland is not New York City, but this report offers insights and practical ideas on how to make Cleveland more open and friendly city as well as the considerable positive effects that immigrants have on cities.

Read the full report here on the Americas Society/Council of the Americas website.