On ICMA Press Call, Experts Discuss Local Governments’ Newfound Role in Immigration Policy

A panel of local government leaders and immigration integration and strategy experts discussed the new immigration challenges facing our communities.

ARTICLE | Oct 25, 2017

Contact:  Michele Frisby, Director of Public Information, mfrisby@icma.org; 202-962-3658

To access a copy of a recording from today’s press call, click here.

San Antonio, TX – On a media press call held earlier today, local government leaders and immigration integration and strategy experts discussed the newfound role of local governments in dealing with immigration policy. The call was hosted by ICMA, the International City/County Management Association, in conjunction with the organization’s 103rd annual conference, being held October 22-25 in San Antonio/Bexar County, Texas, at the Henry B. González Convention Center.

During the call, Rosalind Gold, Senior Director of Policy, Research and Advocacy at NALEO Educational Fund, said: “The success, future prosperity, and well-being of our nation is dependent on the success of our nation’s immigrant families. Immigrants pay taxes, bring diverse skills, and for cities with aging native-born workers, immigrants can reinvigorate economies. Immigrants not only are vital to our future economic prosperity, but the overall health of our democracy. Local governments can play an important role in immigrants’ success, through immigrant integration policies and efforts to strengthen the relationship between immigrant families and longtime residents. These policies built trust throughout the community. This trust from the community also is also a reason why local law enforcement should focus on local law enforcement and not have to divert resources and create mistrust with local immigrant communities by engaging in immigration enforcement.”

Milton Dohoney, assistant city manager in Phoenix, Arizona, said: “Immigration is a complicated topic. Our focus in local government is to cultivate a welcoming and inclusive community for all. We try to find a way to make the community work in a cohesive fashion day in and day out.” Dohoney also noted that, “Phoenix has tried to provide clarity to the community so they know what can be expected, especially in regards to police services and interactions with law enforcement. We’re trying to build trust. If the public is afraid to call us, it has a negative impact on our ability to maintain a safe community.”

Veronica Briseno, President of the Local Government Hispanic Network, an affiliate of ICMA, said: “Good city management means feeling compelled to provide services regardless of immigration documentation. We want all of our residents to feel safe coming to our city for resources and not to feel under threat or at risk.” Briseno also noted there is “a balance between the desire to serve our residents and not wanting to lose federal or state funding - resources that are crucial to the city’s health and economic well-being,” and described the focus on local governments’ role in immigration policy debates as an “important and timely conversation in our country and communities.”

And Ron Carlee, the moderator of the call and the director of the Center for Regional Excellence at the Strome College of Business and visiting assistant professor at the School of Public Service at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, described immigration as “an issue that has been with cities throughout history” and noted that at the ICMA conference this week, urbanist thinker Richard Florida talked about three critical elements for cities’ success: technology, talent, and tolerance. Carlee highlighted that “every local government is different. The extent to which one city or another has a policy of being welcoming or not to its immigration populations can vary across the country,” while describing reasons why policies that help maintain trust between local governments and their immigrant communities are beneficial.

The speakers on the press call are just a few of the more than 3,500 key decision makers and guests from local governments throughout the world who gathered at ICMA’s 103rd annual conference, held October 22-25, 2017 in San Antonio/Bexar County, Texas, at the Henry B. González Convention Center.

For more information about the press call or the ICMA conference, contact Michele Frisby at 202-962-3658 or mfrisby@icma.org.

About ICMA
ICMA, the International City/County Management Association, advances professional local government worldwide through leadership, management, innovation, and ethics. ICMA provides member support; publications; data and information; peer and results-oriented assistance; and training and professional development to more than 11,000 city, town, and county experts and other individuals and organizations throughout the world. The management decisions made by ICMA's members affect millions of individuals living in thousands of communities, from small villages and towns to large metropolitan areas.

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