Making Government Work

To Fix a Neighborhood, Invite a Newcomer

February 14, 2014
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To Fix a Neighborhood, Invite a Newcomer
Immigrants arrive for a naturalization ceremony held at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office on January 17, 2014 in New York City. John Moore/Getty Images
Many new studies show that immigrants create jobs and revitalize downtrodden areas.

The idea of the hard-working immigrant isn’t just a stereotype according to several studies, including one by Paul McDaniel, who holds a Ph.D. in Geography and Urban Regional Analysis from the University of North Carolina. In “Revitalization in the Heartland of America: Welcoming Immigrant Entrepreneurs for Economic Development,” he writes that immigrants are “risk takers by nature” and “unusually successful entrepreneurs.” Immigrants are more than twice as likely to start their own businesses as people born in the United States.

McDaniel cites the finding of the Fiscal Policy Institute that “immigration and economic growth of metro areas go hand in hand.” That’s prompted several Rust Belt cities that are losing population and declining economically to look to immigrants for revitalization. McDaniel demonstrates that an influx of immigrants is helping stabilize and invigorate  parts of Detroit and St. Louis, and rural communities in Iowa. These communities have seen the benefits of immigration and have begun to advocate for more—for example, the Governor of Michigan recently requested 50,000 visas to allow high-skilled immigrants to move to Detroit. Immigrants often move into low-income neighborhoods and make them safer and more prosperous.

David G. Gutierrez studied census data for his report “An Historic Overview of Latino Immigration and Demographic Transformation of the United States” and found that 44% of medical scientists, 37% of physical scientists, 34% of software engineers, and 27% of physicians and surgeons in America are immigrants. We’ve always known that immigrants are one factor that make the United States strong, and these new reports suggest we should continue welcoming immigrants in the future.

MORE: Meet the CEO Who Wants to Bring 50,000 Immigrants to Detroit

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