Mayor John Cranley and the Task Force on Immigration he convened last year announced a series of recommendations on Oct. 28 aimed at making Cincinnati the most welcoming city in the country for immigrants.
The task force announced 14 short-term, two-year goals and another nine longer-term, five-year goals designed to persuade and help immigrants settle in Cincinnati while protecting their legal rights and encouraging entrepreneurship.
“We want to be a city of growth and opportunity,” Cranley said during a news conference about the task force’s recommendations, “and we think this is the right thing to do for the economic vitality of our city.”
Among the short-term objectives the task force announced is a collaboration between the city, the University of Cincinnati, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce, Children’s Hospital and other organizations on a center to welcome immigrants. That center will start out as a website while a permanent, physical facility similar to ones in Pittsburgh and Chicago is established.
The mayor said UC has committed $50,000 a year to the effort, and Cranley said he’ll be asking Cincinnati City Council to approve a similar commitment.
“This is a true collaboration,” he said, “and it’s very inspiring to see the community come together to support something we don’t have.”
Another set of short- and long-term goals will seek to ensure that immigrants are treated fairly and get their full legal rights. The task force calls for increased cultural sensitivity training for police, a deeper commitment by the city to punish violations of immigrants’ civil rights and calls for an ordinance from the city pledging to go after wage theft, a big issue for immigrant workers. Among the members of the task force is Manuel Perez, who works with the Cincinnati Interfaith Workers Center, which has helped lead the conversation around wage theft in Cincinnati.
Cranley declined to comment explicitly on what effect the effort could have on the undocumented immigrant population in the region, but did point out that some of the partners in the task force are working independently on measures like ID cards for undocumented immigrants. Those IDs would then be recognized by municipal offices, including the police department.
According to data released recently by the Partnership for a New American Economy, a pro-immigration think-tank, the foreign-born population of metro Cincinnati has contributed more than $189 million in state and municipal taxes.
Cranley says he hopes to bring ordinances associated with the task force’s recommendation to Council in the next two weeks.