>Editorial | Encouraging Immigration
>Open the golden door
>It's no wonder Philadelphia trails so many urban areas around the
>in attracting immigrants.
>Take as an example City Hall's bumbling and insulting handling of just
>concern from the local Cambodian community.
>Cambodians were right to be outraged in December when, in an article
>Inquirer, the city's so-called liaison to the Asian community, Mahn
>Park, made comments that showed all the sensitivity of an anvil.
>The story portrayed the gnawing aftereffects of Cambodia's brutal
>Rouge regime on those who lived through the era depicted in the movie,
>In the Inquirer story, Park responded to criticism from local
>that he did not understand or represent their needs by
>fields or whatever. Does that mean they have to have the special
>treatment?... Whether killing fields or not, that's their fault."
>Here's a news flash for Mayor Street's administration: Insulting your
>target audience is not a great way to market the city.
>Park's stupid comments fueled concerns about the man who was
>conduit to city government, and motivated that community to campaign
>Park's removal from his unpaid position.
>He finally has been removed, sort of, but not without City Hall
>out how further to infuriate local Cambodians. Officials have been
>out of both sides of their mouth, first saying Park was the city
>then denying any connection.
>Perhaps it's city officials who need to go to
>classes. Their first assignment: coming clean about
>the city, and apologizing formally to Cambodians for the whole mess.
>This episode also provides an insight into how City Hall might be
>away foreign-born folks who might otherwise be eager to live and work
>Smart leaders around the nation know that immigrant influxes have
>strengthened urban economies and revitalized neighborhoods through
>entrepreneurial zeal. It's happened in places as far-flung as Boston,
>Minneapolis-St. Paul and Atlanta. It has happened here, just not often
>Smart urban leaders are ratcheting up campaigns to recruit
>residents. Here, some steps have been taken by city government, but
>been much more talk than action, despite Philadelphia's low ranking as
>immigrant destination (19th in one ranking based on late-1990s
>Mostly, it's been left to groups such as the independent nonprofit
>Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid
>Society) and Council Migration Service of Philadelphia to carry the
>They provide a range of valuable services.
>In his annual address last week to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of
>Commerce, the mayor did devote a sentence to hailing the role
>play in the city's life.
>Now perhaps he can back the words with a stronger commitment to
>immigrants here and helping them settle in and contribute.
>The city should name a qualified point person on immigrant affairs and
>up an immigrant office to coordinate nonprofit efforts and serve as a
>portal of information and referrals for newcomers. The mayor should
>that the position has enough clout to push other
>such as Licenses and Inspections or the Police Department, to be more
>user-friendly to immigrants.
>Beyond those functions - plus marketing Philadelphia as as an
>destination - this office should not duplicate services being provided
>the nonprofit sector.
>Street ought to embrace a plan from Councilman James F. Kenney, one of
>political foes, to set up such a post and office.
>Kenney's staff believes most of the cost would be picked up by
>If, as in Boston and New York, a wave of new immigrants boosted the
>economy, the office eventually would pay for itself.
>African American politicians here generally have been cool to the idea
>Some in their community likely harbor fears that newcomers willing to
>for low wages will
snatch jobs away from blacks. But it need not be a
>zero-sum game involving a shrinking pie. It hasn't been in the Bronx,
>Seattle and elsewhere. There, immigration has grown the pie,
>population and neighborhoods.
>Kenney and Councilman Juan F. Ramos have proposed legislation to
>city's charter so it includes a city office of immigrant affairs.
>It's not a great idea to change the charter just because politicians
>power at a given moment are acting short-sighted. The office would
>little effect, anyhow, if the mayor were opposed to it.
>For starters, City Hall could signal a change of heart on immigration
>ending the duck-the-blame game with Cambodians. Whatever title Mahn
>Park had with the city, his behavior was no way to make foreign-born
>residents feel welcome in Philadelphia. Let's work on a new
The government and the NEWS should reflect, not determine, the desires of the people.The news is to be reported not to sway opinion. Stop the melodrama and constant trivia on news time. The founding fathers knew that government is always corrupt, that is why they gave us civil liberties. The people must lead to survive corrupt governments. Read the constitution. (In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this includes information for research and educational purposes.) Al Soto (c) 2005
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