An op-ed for the New York Times titled ‘Our Immigrants, Our Strength,’ looks at the rampant xenophobia around the world, but also offers solutions.
The article, written by three mayors — Bill de Blasio, Anne Hidalgo and Sadiq Khan — plea for the public to view immigrants in a different light.
1. For one, the article begins by explaining just why xenophobia is unjustified:
“But it is wrong to characterize immigrant and refugee communities as radical and dangerous; in our experience, militant violence is vanishingly rare. Therefore, we must continue to pursue an inclusive approach to resettlement in order to combat the growing tide of xenophobic language around the globe. Such language will lead only to the increased marginalization of our immigrant communities, and without making us any safer.”
Although radicalization is fairly uncommon and does not characterize the views of the majority of immigrant and refugee communities, in the aftermath of tragedy, outsiders see that ideology and these communities as one in the same.
Marginalizing immigrant communities actually comes at a great cost. For example, France has experienced it’s fair share of terrorist attacks, but it is also well known in France that Muslim communities are marginalized. This environment, at least partially, fuels recruitment for terrorist groups.
As the Hill reports,
“It is a vicious cycle of victimization, with all parts of French society feeling threatened. The recruitment process across the world capitalizes on the sense of marginalization young people feel and that creates a powerful rhetorical argument that the enemy is the state.”
2. The mayors that authored the article understand the dangers of marginalization and focus their conversation on efforts to be more inclusive of these communities, rather than pushing them out. For example,
“In New York and Paris, for example, municipal ID programs have achieved great success in increasing a sense of belonging among immigrants and allowing for greater access to services like bank accounts and veterans benefits and city resources like libraries and cultural institutions. In less than two years, New York’s municipal ID program, known as IDNYC, has signed up over 10 percent of the city’s total population and garnered strong praise from a diverse coalition of community members, advocates and institutional partners.”
They go on to explain that these types of programs build safer cities precisely because they make immigrants feel more like they are a part of the community — like they are “included and recognized by their governments.”
3. However, it’s not just about cultivating a sense of belonging in immigrant communities. Surely, immigrants have a lot to offer to the communities that they migrate to. Continuing to marginalize them only makes it so that these communities never get to benefit from that.
“Investing in the integration of refugees and immigrants is not only the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do. Refugees and other foreign-born residents bring needed skills and enhance the vitality and growth of local economies, and their presence has long benefited our three cities.”
The thoughts and opinions expressed here are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Citizen Slant.