In a bid to stop its population exodus, Baltimore is positioning itself to be the anti-Arizona in trying to become a magnet for immigrants, with its mayor prohibiting police and social agencies from asking anyone about their immigration status, the Washington Post
reported, and even asking federal immigration authorities to be sure to tell anyone they arrest that they are not agents of the city.
Baltimore, which saw its population peak at 950,000 in 1950, has seen its population decline for decades, its most recent census estimates pegging its population at 650,000, the Post reported. Baltimore is now the nation’s 24th largest city. In 1980, it ranked 10th.
So city officials are embracing immigrants, in the hope they will encourage friends and family to join them, to fight the continued population slide.
The city’s Democratic mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, has told Latinos that she is counting on them to help Baltimore gain 10,000 families within a decade, according to the Post.
Rawlings-Blake signed an order in March prohibiting police and social agencies from asking anyone about immigration status. She also asked in the order that federal immigration authorities to tell anyone they arrest that they are not agents of the city.
Baltimore’s approach is the opposite of that of Arizona and Alabama, which have laws requiring police to ask a person’s immigration status and which has contributed to an exodus of immigrants.
“The census has shown cities definitively what the population trend is,” Margie McHugh, an immigration expert with the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute, told the Post. “It got a lot of smart people in city and state governments looking 10 years ahead and thinking hard about what the economic future for cities could be.”
The Pew Hispanic Center estimated that in 2010, Maryland had the nation’s 10th-largest population of unauthorized immigrants.
“What we want to do is attract immigrants who call home and say: ‘Maybe you should think about coming to Baltimore. I’m having a great time here,’ ” Ian Brennan, a mayoral spokesman, told the Post.
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