Equity & Diversity

Cities Recruit Immigrants to Reverse Population Decline

By Lesli A. Maxwell — July 25, 2012 1 min read
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A handful of cities across the Midwest and Northeast—old, industrial centers like Detroit; Cleveland; Dayton, Ohio; and Baltimore—are actively recruiting immigrants to help reverse shrinking populations and bolster economic recovery and growth.

Baltimore’s effort to attract immigrant workers and their families is explained in great detail in a story in today’s Washington Post. Led by the mayor, the Baltimore outreach to immigrants is centered around a mayoral order issued last spring that bans police and social service agencies from asking anyone about their immigration status.

These efforts, of course, are remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the contrast they present with states like Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia, where laws have been enacted to actively discourage undocumented immigrants from coming there, and encouraging those who are there to leave. Of course, much of Arizona’s law has been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, putting the other state laws on questionable footing.

My question is whether cities like Baltimore are deliberately planning for meeting the educational needs of these immigrants and their children, especially when it comes to teaching them English. Are frontline educators involved in the planning?

In Dayton, the immigrant recruiting effort does acknowledge the need to provide ESL teachers and literacy coaches.

But in Detroit, for example, the public schools are in great distress, and I think there would be serious questions to ask about the capacity they have to serve even more English-language learners.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.