UT report says Austin could be more welcoming to immigrants
The city’s Equity Office supports the findings of a recent report released by researchers at the University of Texas who found that there was work to be done to increase the economic and civic participation of immigrants at the local level.
The report, titled “Advancing Immigrant Incorporation in Austin,” was published by researchers at UT’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs. Looking at data from 2018 to 2020, the researchers found that Austin ranked 43rd out of the top 100 U.S. cities for immigrant integration, with the city’s biggest gaps being in areas of civic participation, livability and employment opportunities.
The report makes eight recommendations that staff and relevant boards and committees will assess for possible consideration in the next budget cycle. Recommendations include the creation and staffing of a municipal office dedicated to immigrant affairs and incorporation; examine policy options to tackle low wages in sectors of the economy that have an increased impact on immigrants; develop more affordable housing; and working with higher education institutions and related organizations to deliver workforce development programs.
Other recommendations included making information on starting a business more accessible to immigrant communities; support naturalization efforts such as English proficiency and civic education; create community hubs to bring together neighborhood groups; and develop initiatives to increase civic participation in all communities.
The note notes that the Equity Office has added an immigration staff position as part of the FY2020 budget, and supports the report’s findings and specifically points out that Austin’s naturalization rate is ” one of the lowest among his peers ”.
The city’s Commission on Immigration Affairs was due to receive a presentation on the report at its meeting on Monday.
The cost of housing is cited as an area of particular concern that affects all residents, including pockets of Asian, Mexican and Latin American immigrants clustered in the western and southeast segments of the city. It also notes “a” crescent moon “of assets, attributes and incidents along Austin’s heavily populated central corridor, leaning westward from Austin. Whether it is the location of affordable housing, hospitals, fire stations or public libraries, the models reflect the long-standing racial and economic divisions in the city.
While Austin showed improvement over the three years of data collected in relative cities, those improvements were driven by high scores in the areas of legal support, government leadership, and community, offsetting low scores in terms of livability, economic opportunities and civic participation.
Immigration business and opportunities have been an area of focus for city council in recent years, with UT’s report being one of the results of a desire to be officially recognized as a welcoming city.
A 2019 memo from a 2018 Council resolution led to the creation of a new position within the Equity Office. He also called for the development of a city-wide strategy to provide services to immigrant communities, to apply for a Gateway for Growth grant that would provide research, financial and technical assistance on related issues. to immigrants, and to join the Cities for Citizenship network.
In an August interview with KUT 90.5 FM, Rocío Villalobos, the city’s immigration affairs manager, said the report was needed to get a full view of the challenges Austin faces in improving its services. and its quality of life for its immigrant population.
Photo made available via a Creative Commons license.
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