Austin, Texas, is known for being one of the most creative, innovative cities in the United States. It’s why Steve Adler is so proud to be the city’s mayor — and he knows that to maintain the city’s vibrancy it needs to celebrate its immigrant residents. In Austin, more than 18 percent of all residents are foreign–born, and 24 percent of all new businesses are founded by foreign-born entrepreneurs. “Immigration has always helped make America stronger, and it continues to do that, especially in Austin,” Adler says. “The talent, the workforce, the energy — it creates a better quality of life.”
Immigration has always helped make America stronger, and it continues to do that, especially in Austin. The talent, the workforce, the energy — it creates a better quality of life.
Adler’s appreciation goes beyond Austin’s immigrant entrepreneurs. He says the city depends on the work and labor provided by undocumented immigrants. “They do more for our economy than they take,” he says. He knows that Texas would lose an estimated 400,000 jobs and $69 billion a year in economic activity if undocumented immigrants were removed from their communities.
Adler believes Americans have a responsibility to take care of those who have contributed to the economy. “This country has sent a mixed message,” he says. “We have laws that say, if you want to work and live here, follow this process. But at the same time, we have turned a blind eye to millions of people who have come to work here without documentation. And to suddenly look up and say, ‘Hey, what about all these undocumented workers?’ Well I think we invited them through our conduct.”
As mayor, Adler would like to see immigration reform that protects our borders and safety, but that also gives undocumented workers who don’t have a criminal record a path to citizenship. “Immigration makes Austin a better place,” he says. “The United States has always thrived and had vast potential, in part, because we’re a country of immigrants.”