The City of Dayton has published a plan to encourage immigrant entrepreneurship in the city aimed and boosting both economic and population growth. Critics of the plan, called Welcome Dayton, claim the proposal risks inviting illegal immigration.
Dayton’s Human Relations Council published the Welcome Dayton Plan— Immigrant Friendly City in order to promote both diversity and economic growth. The plan’s premise is that the United States is at a “crossroad: to welcome and integrate new residents and help them on a path to citizenship, or to allow old stereotypes, fears and preconceptions to hinder future success.”
In Section 4 of the resolution, the City Commission states its vision to make “Dayton not only a welcoming place for new residents from other countries but also a center of world commerce.” Section 5 makes the resolution “an emergency measure” that will take effect immediately.
Critics claim the plan will invite illegal immigrants to the area and cost too much money.
Cleveland-area residents involved in similar plans spoke at the Dayton City Commission meeting on Wednesday urging the city to abandon the plan. They claim that the plan may violate federal laws that make it illegal to encourage illegal immigrants to live in the United States.
Specifically, the plan calls for the city to “Implement a municipal identification card program for community residents who are not eligible for any other accepted identifying document.”
One of the Cleveland-area residents objected to the proposed ID cards: “When people are here legally, they have their visas, they have their green cards, they have verifiable identification. Outside of that, who will benefit from this municipal ID card? If you were here illegally, you’d need one.”
Even Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones believes the plan is imprudent, citing the jobs situation in area. Jones said, “We don’t have enough employment. Unemployment is at 10%. We don’t have any extra jobs.”
Jones continued: “I’ll even put a sign up at my jail that says Dayton is a sanctuary city, so when they get released, they can move to Dayton and they can commit crimes in Dayton. I’m all for that if that’s what Dayton wants to do.”
The resolution also directs the city to “focus law enforcement efforts on serious/violent crime and not federal immigration law.”
City Commissioners reject such criticisms, however, speaking in favor of the plan on humanitarian grounds. Commissioner Tim Riordan emphasized the rich immigration history of the United States and called mentions of illegal immigration “heinous” and “despicable.”
Human Relations Council director Tom Wahlrab claims the plan distinguishes between legal and illegal immigrants. The proposal makes no mention of the legal status of immigrants.
The Dayton Daily News asked Commissioner Dean Lovelace about the potential costs of the plan, especially considering recent city budget difficulties. Commissioner Nan Whaley claims that the plan contains no financial commitment from the city; however, the resolution calls for numerous actions that will likely cost the city money.
Specifically, the resolution calls for “façade grants” and a “city/county-wide interpreter service.” Likewise, the city plans to offer hiring incentives and to encourage government employees to learn a second language though buying “a copy of Rosetta Stone” software. Each of these proposals would presumably come with a cost to taxpayers.
City Commissioners plan to vote on the plan on October 5th.