Monday, January 09, 2012

Baltimore Wants More Immigrants

The obsession with population numbers has to stop. Yes, a shrinking city presents a host of problems. More people living in the city is a good thing. But reversing decline should not be a policy goal. Picked up via Chris Briem's (Null Space) Twitter feed, Baltimore's mayor wants to attract immigrants in order to grow the population:

To reach the mayor's goal, courting such immigrants has "definitely got to be a significant component of the strategy," said Thomas Stosur, director of the city's Planning Department. He thinks the "aggressive" goal is feasible as long as the economy continues to improve. ...

... "One thing we know about immigrant settlement is that social networks are important to get the word out that a place has opportunities" such as jobs and easy access to housing, said Audrey Singer, a Brookings Institution scholar who has studied immigration's effects on metropolitan areas. "Job opportunities [are] probably the single most important thing for attracting immigrants."

Improving the regional economy and creating jobs will bring more immigrants to the region, boosting the population. Isn't that bizarre? I'd rather the mayor be more welcoming to immigrants in order to improve the regional economy and create jobs.

Population growth presents its own challenges. The numbers going up do not equal prosperity, far from it. I've discussed Reading, PA. Reading is attracting immigrants. Reading is growing. Reading is devastated by poverty. Baltimore would like to be more like Reading. Have at it.

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