American Cities Benefit from Immigrants in More Ways Than You Think

February 19th 2015

Alicia Lutes

Next time a congressman, some talking-head/pundit type, or your Uncle Bob tries to claim that illegal immigrants make towns and cities across the United States unsafe, some new data suggests that you should tell that person to think again — because not only do illegal immigrants help our economy, they may be the best way to save our dying cities like Detroit, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and more.

We already knew the misconceptions and stereotypes about immigrants in this country were largely unfounded, but a new story from The Economist has shone a light on just how those backwards ideals have kept our struggling cities from moving forward even faster.

Look at Baltimore, Maryland and Detroit, Michigan's attempts to lure immigrants to their cities (over more expensive homes like Los Angeles or New York); the story found that not only do these new families relocation lower crime rates and urban decay, but they also make schools better and incentivize continued community growth and small business development.

Per The Economist: "In Detroit, immigrants living near the tiny separate city of Hamtramck have formed local watches to guard against thieves. Their neighbourhoods are not just safer; they are also among the only places where it is as easy to buy fresh vegetables as drugs and alcohol."

In Baltimore, their mayor — Stephanie Rawlings-Blake — has stepped up the city's pro-immigrant game, offering micro-loans that require no credit checks for those needing to acquire legalization papers. They've also started Spanish language courses in libraries and halted their immigration status checks during stops (unless required to by law, of course). And the result? The city has seen a 50% increase in immigrants between 2000 and 2013, giving the oft-beleaguered working class city its first population growth in decades. The whole story is worth checking out in its entirety.

Of course it's not easy work to do, but it does raise the question: if America once again opened its doors more willingly to the world's tired, poor, and hungry — those willing to work where other Americans are not in order to help realize the country's dreams once more — wouldn't that be a win-win for everyone involved? And also, y'know, stick to the whole ethos of the country at large? After all, unless your family has Native American roots, we were all immigrants once upon a time.