Dallas News: Trump backlash? Dallas, Houston and others put out the welcome mat for immigrants

As in America, there are two kinds of Texas.

One pushes a bathroom bill that targets transgender students and dismisses the hit on Texas’ business-friendly image, and the other rises up in opposition and holds off the measure.

One passes a “show me your papers” law that bans sanctuary cities, and the other files a legal challenge with the backing of San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, Austin and more.

One sues to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program to protect unauthorized immigrants brought here as children, and the other embraces the notion of becoming welcoming cities that nurture and integrate immigrants.

These clashes are a reminder that every action can lead to a reaction. In these examples, the response was a welcome alternative to the hard-line narrative that often bubbles up from Texas.

Consider the debate over immigration, which has been near the top of the hit list for the Trump administration and Texas’ top elected leaders. While they rail about border security and the rule of law — and stoke fear in the immigrant community — Dallas is putting out the welcome mat.

Last year, Dallas created the Office of Welcoming Communities and Immigrant Affairs with the aim of helping immigrants and refugees thrive in their adopted homeland. The office organized a citizenship campaign that attracted about 500 people last fall, and it’s working with police to improve engagement with the immigrant community. Next month, the office hopes to submit a strategic welcoming plan to encourage diversity and inclusion, and make that a competitive advantage.

With almost 1 in 4 Dallas residents being born in another country, the Dallas office is concerned about humanitarian issues as well as promoting economic growth.

In the Trump era, apprehensions and deportations are on the rise, and many immigrants are afraid to go out at night or drive their children to the doctor because they could cross paths with law enforcement, said Liz Cedillo-Pereira, director of the city’s immigrant affairs office.

“Their fear is palpable, and we have to ask how to alleviate that so we can improve the quality of life for all residents,” she said.

Dallas is one of many cities taking a public stand in defense of immigrants, and it’s part of Welcoming America, a network of over 100 cities trying to create inclusive, welcoming places for immigrants.

In September, Dallas was among 25 cities selected for a research award and technical assistance from the Gateways for Growth initiative. New American Economy, a bipartisan pro-immigration advocacy group of more than 500 mayors and business leaders, is helping with research and strategy.

One goal is to help cities develop a blueprint to attract immigrant talent and jump-start their economies.

“While Congress debates the value of immigration, in city after city, the evidence is already in: Immigrants revive neighborhoods and drive economic growth,” John Feinblatt, president of New American Economy said last fall.

In Dallas, immigrants account for 24 percent of the population (compared with 13.2 percent for the U.S.) and almost 32 percent of Dallas’ workforce, according to research by New American Economy and the city of Dallas. Immigrants have grown much faster than the total population, accounting for 40 percent of the city’s population increase from 2011 to 2016.

Read the full story from Dallas News: “Trump backlash? Dallas, Houston and others put out the welcome mat for immigrants”

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…