Mayor’s Abroad

Kica Matos PhotoNew Haven Mayor John DeStefano joined counterparts from around the world on a panel in the Netherlands about an issue that has bedeviled communities worldwide: how to absorb waves of immigrants.

The occasion was a gathering in The Hague entitled “The 2010 International Cities of Migration Conference: Migration to Integration: An Opportunity Agenda For Cities.” Read about it here.

DeStefano—who has helped attract newcomers to New Haven with an immigrant-friendly ID card and police policy requiring cops in most cases to avoid asking people about their immigration status—spoke on a Monday morning panel entitled, “International City Leaders Panel: Strategies for City Success.” DeStefano was one of six panelists, the only one from the U.S. Kica Matos, his former point person in City Hall on immigration policy, accompanied him and spoke at the conference as well; she sent the above photo on Monday.

The conference paid DeStefano’s expenses, according to mayoral spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga. No taxpayer money was involved in the trip.

DeStefano kept in touch with developments in the city and planned to arrive back home Tuesday.

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posted by: anon on October 4, 2010  4:27pm

Excellent to see the Mayor on a panel like this.  The United States (Connecticut included) is shooting itself in the foot by not being more welcoming of immigrants, and not being more forward-thinking with regard to the impact of our policies. 

First, areas with higher immigration have higher quality of life, more jobs, and lower taxes.  Second, the fact is that immigrants are a huge proportion of our future workforce, and there are no policies likely to change that fact. If we maintain our current laws that do not provide education to people who move here, like Connecticut’s policy not to provide immigrants in-state tuition rates to colleges, we will all suffer tremendously from having a less educated and less competitive workforce, both globally as well as locally.  Third, this area would be far more competitive if recent migrants could easily and efficiently get to work anywhere in their region, but the state’s almost complete lack of mass transit, and utter disregard of bike and pedestrian infrastructure greatly limits that.

The new Governor should make his first day in office a day for immigrants, recognizing that they are one of the keys to a prosperous future in Connecticut.  Bold actions are required.

posted by: Charlie O'Keefe on October 4, 2010  6:47pm

With this years tax increase this is all I wanted to read. How much are we paying for this trip. What has immigration policy got to do with the Mayor. Its a Federal issue.

posted by: The Professor on October 4, 2010  8:16pm

Charlie, did you bother to read the article?  It says in no uncertain terms that the conference picked up the tab for his travel and accommodations.

While the regulation of immigration is a federal issue, it’s absolutely foolish and wrong to pretend that it has no impact on local communities.  When a city starts to see a substantial influx of immigrants, there are many different paths the city can take, and that’s exactly what the Mayor was there to talk about—how a city can take the influx of immigrants and use it to make the city a stronger and more prosperous place.

At least you admit that the only thing you care about is your tax rate, all else be damned.

posted by: Townie on October 5, 2010  9:31am

I don’t buy the age old “American” idea that immigration is necessarily a good thing for our economy. It has been, in the past, but I don’t think that model is sustainable given the current reality. There are fewer and fewer jobs in this nation, most nations. It makes more sense to stem, or stop, immigration so that we can rebuild our economy and provide jobs for the people that are already here. Neo-liberalism causes the creation of a transient wealth, which causes a transient labour market. No nation can reasonably rely on neo-liberal capitalism for lasting economic growth and/or prosperity.
Simply said, we should all stay put and work to localize our economic paradigm so that we produce what is needed and at the same time provide meaningful and profitable jobs for those who are able and willing to work. We should abandon the ideal of globalism, it is a flawed precept.

posted by: anon on October 5, 2010  10:06am

Townie: Immigration policy has little to do with globalism. It has to do with how we treat real, living people who are already here, who are going to stay here, and whose children are a huge proportion of our future workforce.  It has to do with maximizing the productivity of everyone who is already here.

To deny some children the same opportunities that are afforded to other children, is racism and classism, and has a huge negative impact on everyone in the long term, particularly at the local level.  The Mayor of Danbury should be ashamed of himself.

The North American cities that are the most prosperous—Portland, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington DC, etc.—all have very high rates of immigration and are tolerant of cultural differences.  Cities that are decaying and disappearing, and are rife with social discontentment and poverty, are the ones with fewer immigrants—Detroit, Cleveland, Baltimore, Akron.  The main reason: immigrants create jobs and lift all boats.  Does New Haven want to be counted among the former group of cities, or the latter?

posted by: Townie on October 5, 2010  11:45am

Anon, I would say immigration policy encompasses two issues; the treatment of immigrants already in a nation and the establishment of quotas that restrict or allow a certain number of immigrants into a nation. I would agree that immigrants that are already here should be afforded a fair opportunity to become citizens and should receive equal protection of our laws. However, I do not think that we should continue to welcome immigrants to our country. Immigrants do not create jobs. Most immigrants come here to find work. They flock to cities which offer said work. Right now Detroit, Cleveland and Akron have suffered because of the decline of the US auto industry (due in part to globalism). But, there were times when these cities were flooded with immigrants. Cultural tolerance and diversity have little to do with an immigrant’s choice of places to live and work. It’s all about economics. Hence the tie into globalism. If they could find jobs in their native country they would probably stay there. But, because of Neo-Liberal economic policies and programs, the majority of wealth, commerce and employment is concentrated in a few areas. Immigration is a “problem” that will never end until all nations re-construct their economies so that they are independent of the global market. A world of markets that trade with each other instead of a world market, that should be the goal, and that should compel people to remain where they are work to improve their current home so that subsequent generations can thrive.