Julia Preston promotes Dayton looking the other way on illegal immigration (Ohio, headscarves)
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In the New York Times, immigration reporter Julia Preston offers a cookie-cutter article that follows the Crooked Town Story model. In those types of stories, a town that's supposedly in bad shape decides to look the other way on our immigration laws and - presto chango! - the town becomes a bustling hub of commerce. See that link for past examples (including from the NY Times).
Fighting back from the ravages of industrial decline, this city adopted a novel plan two years ago to revive its economy and its spirits: become a magnet for immigrants.
The Dayton City Commission voted to make the city “immigrant friendly,” with programs to attract newcomers and encourage those already here, as a way to help stem job losses and a drop in population...
...The police chief, Richard S. Biehl, ordered officers to no longer check the immigration status of crime witnesses, victims and people stopped for minor traffic violations or other low-level offenses. The police union and sheriffs from nearby counties denounced the policy, saying Dayton had become a "sanctuary city" where immigration law was not enforced.
But Chief Biehl defended his approach, saying it allowed the police to focus dwindling resources on serious crimes. Immigrant leaders, especially Hispanics, embraced it, becoming less wary of the police.
"If we have any group of citizens who are afraid to talk to us or don’t trust us," Chief Biehl said, "that's going to compromise our ability to produce public safety."
The last is the standard excuse used by police officials who put politics or money ahead of doing their jobs. What other laws is Biehl willing to cut corners on? For instance, is he going to vigorously pursue identity theft cases, or is he going to back off under pressure from those "immigrant leaders"? Will Biehl vigorously pursue likely gang activity that sprouts up in the immigrant community, perhaps including organized criminal organizations?
The poster immigrants Preston uses for much of the article are several thousand Muslims from Turkey and the former Soviet Union, and most or all are presumably here legally. However, clearly it doesn't matter to Dayton. Regarding the poster immigrants, Preston says:
Turks chose Dayton, Mr. Shakhbandarov said, because the cost of living was low and there were universities nearby for their children. The newcomers have started restaurants and shops, as well as trucking companies to ferry equipment for a nearby Air Force base. And they have used their savings to refurbish houses in north Dayton, where Turkish leaders estimated that they had invested $30 million so far, including real estate, materials purchases and the value of their labor.
Mr. Shakhbandarov stood proudly at the entrance of the Turkish community center that recently opened downtown, gesturing to the lobby’s beige floor tiles, imported from Turkey to make visitors “feel warm” when they arrive. Turks bought the center, empty and dilapidated, from the city with a favorable loan. Now it houses a neighborhood preschool and martial arts classes, joined enthusiastically by girls in head scarves.
Needless to say, the last bit is a big warning sign: head scarves are generally forbidden in Turkey in keeping with their secular policies (background here). That doesn't mean that Preston's poster immigrants are extremists or worse, just that how devout they are and the impact on the wider community needs to be discussed. Needless to say, Preston's article is a sales job that doesn't look into that.
Speaking about the wider community:
African-Americans, who make up 43 percent of Dayton’s population, agree with the goals of the city’s program but said they were waiting to see the results. Derrick L. Foward, president of the Dayton Unit N.A.A.C.P., said he was concerned that immigrant businesses were not hiring enough black employees.
"I think Welcome Dayton is a very good initiative," Mr. Foward said. "But I would like to see more diversity hiring as part of their practice from the start."
Obviously, Preston didn't interview all of the 60,000 or so blacks in Dayton so her claim that they all agree with the program is misleading. No doubt some segment of them have issues with Dayton's plans but - like whites and others who might have issues - they have no voice in Preston's article. Foward is no doubt thinking of increasing his power base, but he does raise a good point and one that - of course - Preston doesn't pursue. Won't all those new immigrants hire others from their own community over native workers? Won't that result in big problems down the line?
There's also an appearance by the AFSC:
Organized by Migwe Kimemia, a Kenyan immigrant who works for the American Friends Service Committee, a group of Africans is working to start a roasting company in Dayton for coffee from that continent.
See that link and the post about possible "ethnic cleansing" in Detroit.
Near the end, Preston references another sales job inside her own:
Recent research suggests that Dayton’s experience is not accidental. In a national study published last month, (Jacob Vigdor), an economics professor at Duke University, found that over the last four decades, immigrants helped preserve and in some cases add manufacturing jobs in cities where they settled, sustaining employment for Americans. They also added to local housing values. For every thousand immigrants who moved into a county, 270 Americans moved in after them, Mr. Vigdor found.
Want to do something about this? Look up those who talk with @JuliaPrestonNYT on Twitter, and then point out to them all the things she didn't look into. Ask them if a real reporter would look into those things. Point out to them that Preston is just a saleswoman, not a journalist.