City mayors back immigration reform

Mayor Michael Coleman (C) of Columbus, Ohio speaks about fiscal cliff negotiations outside the West Wing as Mayor Raul Salinas (L) of Laredo, Texas, looks on, on December 12, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Today the U.S. Conference of Mayors kicks off its annual meeting in Las Vegas. The mayors are expected to call for federal officials to pass immigration reform. So, what does immigration mean for cities?

Research shows that immigrants start more small businesses than your average American.

Raul Salinas is mayor of Laredo, Texas. Salinas also chairs an immigration task force for the U.S. Conference of Mayors. He says immigration reform means potential revenue for cities.

“They will bring billions and billions of dollars to this economy. Let’s bring them out of the shadows and put them to work,” says Salinas.

Leslie Wollack is with the National League of Cities, which lobbies the federal government on behalf of city governments.

“If immigrants, particularly the undocumented, are allowed to participate fully in the economy, they’ll have better jobs. Hopefully with health care. So that the public will not be having to support them and pay for emergency care,” says Wollack.

Cities also pay to lock-up undocumented immigrants. The federal government is supposed to cover that cost, but Wollack says cities have been getting stuck with the bill.

About the author

Jeff Tyler is a reporter for Marketplace’s Los Angeles bureau, where he reports on issues related to immigration and Latin America.

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