A U.S. City is Practically Begging to Accept More Refugees

In cities where defunct industry caused a population exodus, officials may be competing for immigrants. 

The Obama administration has committed to welcoming at least 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States in 2016. The city of Baltimore has lost one-third of its population since 1950 and is struggling to attract new families in the wake of the Freddie Gray protests. You can probably guess where this is going.

Beverly Hills, it ain't. But Baltimore is a whole lot better than Homs, and it's one of the only U.S. cities with elected officials who are extremely eager to open the gates to Middle East refugees. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who last year established an Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs, has gone on the record stating her dedication to making Baltimore among America's most accessible cities for refugees, mostly through homebuyer grants and by easing them through the bureaucratic process:

“We are certainly supportive of refugees from Syria coming to Baltimore; this speaks to our deepest values as Americans. Baltimore City has been and will continue to be a beacon of freedom and opportunity for refugees seeking a home to grow and prosper."

 Poet and musical artist Saul Williams speaks on the many societal benefits of diversity and inclusion.

Baltimore or Less

Why is Rawlings-Blake so gung-ho about welcoming refugees to her city? We can certainly choose to take her words at face value: It may very well be a matter of doing the right thing.

Of course there's also this: Baltimore was one of the country's top 10 most populous cities from the country's inception through the 1970s, when dried-up industry and white-flight mentality spurred a major flow of emigration. By 2010, it ranked 23rd. In 2020, it could fall out of the top 30 completely.

Fewer residents means less tax revenue. Less tax revenue means blight and crumbling infrastructure. Economic decline sets in. Buildings remain empty. Opportunity vanishes. Crime rises.

It doesn't help that Baltimore's been a civic PR disaster over the past decade. The city's public image has been defined by race issues, riots, and drugs (it's never a good thing when your city's unofficial motto is "where The Wire was set"). While cities like Pittsburgh have found ways to reinvent themselves in the post-industrial Northeast, Baltimore has spun its wheels searching for a new identity.

The thought of several thousand asylum-seekers moving in and going wacko for (Joe) Flacco has got to bring excitement to city officials anxious to move past Gray and toward a brighter future by the bay.


Robert Montenegro is a writer, playwright, and dramaturg who lives in Washington DC. His beats include the following: tech, history, sports, geography, culture, and whatever Elon Musk has said on Twitter over the past couple days. He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.You can follow him on Twitter at @Monteneggroll and visit his po'dunk website at robertmontenegro.com.

Read more at The Economist

Photo: JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Image

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

People who engage in fat-shaming tend to score high in this personality trait

A new study explores how certain personality traits affect individuals' attitudes on obesity in others.

Mind & Brain
  • The study compared personality traits and obesity views among more than 3,000 mothers.
  • The results showed that the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion are linked to more negative views and behaviors related to obesity.
  • People who scored high in conscientiousness are more likely to experience "fat phobia.
Keep reading Show less

4 anti-scientific beliefs and their damaging consequences

The rise of anti-scientific thinking and conspiracy is a concerning trend.

Moon Landing Apollo
  • Fifty years later after one of the greatest achievements of mankind, there's a growing number of moon landing deniers. They are part of a larger trend of anti-scientific thinking.
  • Climate change, anti-vaccination and other assorted conspiratorial mindsets are a detriment and show a tangible impediment to fostering real progress or societal change.
  • All of these separate anti-scientific beliefs share a troubling root of intellectual dishonesty and ignorance.
Keep reading Show less

Reigning in brutality - how one man's outrage led to the Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

The history of the Geneva Conventions tells us how the international community draws the line on brutality.

Napoleon III at the Battle of Solferino. Painting by Adolphe Yvon. 1861.
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Henry Dunant's work led to the Red Cross and conventions on treating prisoners humanely.
  • Four Geneva Conventions defined the rules for prisoners of war, torture, naval and medical personnel and more.
  • Amendments to the agreements reflect the modern world but have not been ratified by all countries.
Keep reading Show less