This Town’s Comeback May Be Squelched by Anti-Immigrant Policies

February 14, 2018. This article by the Blue Mountain Center featured on their website, discusses how the Trump administration’s immigration policies may actually hurt upstate cities like Utica, who has seen positive growth and prosperity since resettling refugees. It discusses how refugees have helped reverse population decline in Utica, they have opened businesses, helped spur urban revitalization, have added to the workforce, purchased homes and have become active members of the community. The article goes on to talk about the great life enhancing and integration services that the Mohawk Valley Resource Center for Refugees has been providing to help refugees such as job placement, citizenship services, English classes, , transportation, translation, computer literacy, other life skills.

But Trump’s immigration policies might actually squelch Utica’s economic comeback.  Here’s why.  Between 1960 and 2000, the city’s population nosedived from 100,000 to 60,000—but in recent years that decline has dramatically slowed, and even reversed a bit.

A big reason for Utica’s stability is that the city opened its doors to 16,000 refugees along with other immigrants over the past three decades. These are people grateful to be away from turmoil in their homelands. They don’t care that many Americans dismiss this region as the failing “rust belt”, or that some local residents believe the city’s best days are behind it.

“Across the Rust Belt you see that immigrants are the one population that’s growing—which revitalizes downtown areas, keeps the schools open, and increases the tax base,” explains David Kallick, Director of the Immigration Research Initiative of the Fiscal Policy Institute, which focuses on the economic future of New York state.

“Immigration is too often a fact-free debate,” he adds. “When we look at the economic role of immigrants we find they play a positive role.”

Callahan took part in a meeting last year at Blue Mountain Center, one of three since 2013 where the Fiscal Policy Institute brought together organizations from around New York state to discuss state policies that affect immigrants.  “We wanted to have a conversation about how to take advantage of the good things about immigration, and how immigrants can contribute even more,” Kallick says.

Here is the link to the Blue Mountain Center.

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