Thursday, June 12, 2014

R immigrants us?

I just have to ask a question.  So many times there are these news items or general punditry about how welcoming Pittsburgh is for immigrants.  Just another round is being set off by the Global Great Lakes Conference being hosted here.  For more on that see: Global Great Lakes Conference Attracts Immigrants to Pittsburgh.

So, is it true?  Is Pittsburgh this uncharacteristically welcoming place for immigrants?

I can't answer that really. But every now and then there is a news article that does not stick to the approved meme.  One of the most honest articles I have read is datelined from just beyond Greater Pittsburgh. In the New York Times some years ago: Altoona, with no immigrant problem, decides to solve it.

Which, to be clear, is  not to be the one to unfairly throw the first stone at Altoona... is the story any different than what you might read here? See this in the PG: (Allegheny) County council considering law on illegal immigration.  Apparently, even today "Illegal immigration is a problem across the county,"

Welcoming? What message does that legislation send, and is it really necessary to have county legislation here unlike most anywhere else in the nation? For Altoona and Allegheny County, you really are talking about two places that are about the most minimally impacted by immigration as any in metropolitan America... by large measure. Yet the lack of immigration in both regions seems to be the very spur extra-ordinary policy efforts to keep the numbers minimal.

Nonetheless, the more feel good stories continue. They likely bear some truth if you are an immigrant who came here with advanced education, much as has been focused on in the ongoing series at the PG, but that is a small small part of the immigrant flow into the United States. I am not even sure it is always true even for the rarefied case of highly skilled immigrants. It's mostly talk that I can't back up in any way, so I won't put any names to this... but there have been examples talked about over the years of corporate relocations away from Pittsburgh spurred by how unwelcoming we can be for foreign born executives. I hope that is not true, but would not be surprised.

If you want a more wonkish, and certainly objective, take on the whole issue of immigration in Pittsburgh, I like having people read this not terribly old white paper by a journalist turned consultant turned professor Gregg Zachary now at the Arizona State University.  See his report which talks a lot about Pittsburgh: Immigrants as urban saviors:When Immigrants Revive a City and When They Don’t - Lessons from the United States.

He also has a longer, and under-appreciated, book that looks at many of the core issues on how immigration and diversity interacts with regional competitiveness, though without the Pittsburgh focus of the report. See The Global Me: New Cosmopolitans and the Competitive Edge: Picking Globalism's Winners and Losers


Anonymous BrianTH said...

So my understanding is immigration from certain countries seems to be slowly but surely building on itself. I'm not sure that means we are particularly welcoming, but if we were particularly unwelcoming, wouldn't word have gotten around?

Saturday, June 14, 2014 7:48:00 PM  

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