Australia Has a Plan to Keep Immigrants Out of Its Largest Cities

The Provincial Nominee Program in Canada certainly led to a diversification of where immigrants settle even if most went to our largest cities:

Immigrants to Australia will soon find themselves excluded from Sydney and Melbourne, the country’s two largest cities. Instead, new arrivals will be confined to rural, low-growth parts of the country—or so the government intends.

The proposal is part of “a decentralization agenda” announced by the country’s population and urban infrastructure minister on Tuesday. “Nearly all of the growth in Australia is into the three population centers of Melbourne, Sydney and Southeast Queensland. And that’s putting enormous pressure on Melbourne and Sydney particularly, and we see that in the congestion on the roads every day,” Alan Tudge told an Australian TV program.

Australia has been widely criticized for its treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, but it settled the second most refugees per capita in 2017, after Canada and Norway. Now the government wants to use migration policy to limit population growth in Sydney and Melbourne, each of which counts more than 4.5 million residents and has grown by more than 10 percent over the past five years. Three in four new arrivals in Australia settle in one of the three areas that would be off-limits to new migrants not sponsored by employers or reuniting with family.

These issues—bursting cities, uneven migration patterns—are not unique to Australia. China has sought to restrict domestic migration to Beijing and Shanghai, citing “big city diseases” like pollution, traffic, and competition for schools, apartments and medical services. In Canada, where immigrants have long clustered in just a couple of cities, province-based visas, meant to draw arrivals to lesser populated places like New Brunswick, now account for one in five immigrants.

In the U.S., virtually none of the country’s largest cities would have added population in the last few decades without immigrants. But the impact of new arrivals is felt in rural areas too: the majority of non-metropolitan population growth between 1990 and 2010 came from Hispanic migrants. The connection between immigrants and economic growth is complicated, but various politicians have floated the idea of revitalizing depopulated areas through immigration. Why not let Syrians settle Detroit? Or Fremont, Nebraska?

In the U.S., at least, where unfettered interstate travel is sacred, plans like Australia’s can provoke unease—even when they are framed, as they usually are, as bonus lotteries to offer green cards to those who wouldn’t otherwise have them. Shouldn’t new Americans be entitled to the same rights as everyone else, including the freedom to move? Why wouldn’t immigrants want to move to the same opportunities sought by native-born Americans? Then again, others point out, employer-sponsored visas like HB-1s already essentially constitute place-based immigration.

Some economists argue confining migrants to low-growth areas doesn’t make sense: Immigrants (and natives) should move to fast-growing regions with high-paying jobs, and those places should provide enough housing and transportation to accommodate them. (Even high-cost cities like New York continue to draw newcomers.) Cities, the thinking goes, function best at scale, strengthened by the increasing potential interactions between people and jobs. That’s little consolation for regions with little population growth, some of whom will pay you to move there.

In the same way that the U.S. helps settle refugees but doesn’t restrict their movement, Canada doesn’t actually make regionally-sponsored visa recipients stay put. In Australia, Roman Quaedvlieg, the former head of the country’s border police, argued that enforcing the new provision would be nearly impossible.

The Australian government hasn’t announced yet how to make sure new immigrants don’t do what immigrants have done for centuries the world over: Move to the big city.

Source: Australia Has a Plan to Keep Immigrants Out of Its Largest Cities

Let’s Give Cities A Greater Role In Managing Migration | Harald Bauder

Worth reflecting upon:

National migration policies play an important part in ordering our society based on origin and status. Canadian temporary foreign workers and international mobility programs have resulted in more than 350,000 foreign workers living in Canada in 2014, often without the same economic rights and entitlements that Canadian citizens take for granted — including the right to stay.

Cities have a different approach to migration. They are not in the business of controlling who crosses and settles within their boundaries, or ordering their communities based on where residents are coming from. Rather, their role is to be inclusive and provide access to resources and services for all residents.

Granted, some city administrations are eager to enforce national migration policies and actively participate in the border regime. Research by my colleague at York University, Liette Gilbert, shows how smaller towns such as Hérouxville, Quebec, and Hazleton, Pennsylvania, have introduced measures that erode the rights of migrants and control their presence.

Many other cities, however, resist exclusionary national policies and border regimes. For example, by declaring themselves sanctuary cities, Toronto and Hamilton have recognized that the residents who are denied status by national policies are nevertheless members of their communities. In this way, dozens of sanctuary cities throughout North America are seeking to build inclusive urban communities in which all residents can equally participate — independent of the order which border regimes impose.

In a globalized world, nation states are increasingly failing to cope with the human need for security and desire to migrate.

Urban communities are also highly responsive to global developments and the need for people to migrate for work and opportunity, and to escape from war and oppression. Take Lifeline Syria as an example: this initiative was spearheaded by civic leaders of Greater Toronto to mobilize fellow residents to sponsor Syrian refugee families and help these families settle in their communities. While the federal government is an important partner in this initiative, it is the urban community that has demonstrated leadership.

Cities are demanding a greater role in managing migration and are asserting their independence from national migration policies that disenfranchise large portions of their residents.

In a globalized world, nation states are increasingly failing to cope with the human need for security and desire to migrate. As cities fill this void, they must maintain their inclusive approach and resist being absorbed into the deadly border regime.

Source: Let’s Give Cities A Greater Role In Managing Migration | Harald Bauder

ICYMI: Why Cities Should Invest in Citizenship: Helping Immigrants Achieve Citizenship Yields Major Returns | Bob Annibale

Likely more correlation than causation, although citizenship both reflects and promotes integration:

It is widely recognized that gaining citizenship is a transformative social experience for immigrants and our nation. Naturalization ceremonies are often emotional events, and the integration of immigrants has shaped the face of America.

Less widely appreciated is the fact that citizenship is a powerful source of economic empowerment and strength both for the individuals who gain citizenship, as well as the cities in which they live.

In the past month the New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) and Citi Community Development unveiled new research conducted by the Urban Institute on the economic effects of naturalization on immigrants and their local economies. “The Economic Impact of Naturalization on Immigrants and Cities” shows that naturalization may lead to an average increase in individual earnings of 8.9%, or $3,200, in the first year after becoming a U.S. citizen. If all eligible immigrants were to naturalize, employment and homeownership rates among eligible immigrants may also rise.

Cities also reap economic benefits from naturalization. If all of the eligible immigrants across the 21 U.S. cities studied were to become citizens, their increased employment rate and earnings would generate millions in new tax revenues – $2 million per year in cities with smaller immigrant populations, like Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Reading, Pennsylvania, and up to $152 million per year in Chicago, $364 million in Los Angeles, and a whopping $789 million in New York City.

Source: Why Cities Should Invest in Citizenship: Helping Immigrants Achieve Citizenship Yields Major Returns — and It’s the Right Thing to Do | Bob Annibale

Cities to weigh loss of long-form census for community planning

Yet another group weighing in on the ongoing implications and costs associated with replacing the Census with the National Household Survey:

Across the country, cities are feeling the impact of the census changes, said Brad Woodside, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and mayor of Fredericton.

“We’ve heard from our members that the change to the new National Household Survey is impacting their ability to effectively plan and monitor the changing needs of their communities,” he said in an e-mailed statement to The Globe. “We support all efforts to increase the reliability of the data from the census.”

Local governments rely on this information to understand the changing needs of communities, and make a range of decisions, “from where to establish new bus routes, build affordable housing and provide programs for new Canadians, he said. “We continue to call on Statistics Canada to work with municipalities to provide communities of all sizes the most reliable information from the available data.”

Mr. Tory said he will raise the issue with the mayors of the country’s largest cities when they meet in Toronto later this week. The topic is not on the agenda for the gathering, which begins Wednesday evening, but he said he can bring it up in informal discussions.

“I believe you really should try to have the best possible evidence in front of you when you are making important decisions,” he said Tuesday. “I can ask if this is a problem they are facing.”

Cities to weigh loss of long-form census for community planning – The Globe and Mail.

Globe editorial makes the same point but equally unlikely to have much effect:

There is now incontrovertible evidence the Conservative government’s 2010 decision to scrap the mandatory census questionnaire, which quantified everything from family income to ethnicity to regional demographics, was an unalloyed catastrophe.

Opposition has come from think-tanks of every political persuasion, business leaders, charities, public administrators and basically anyone with a PhD. Thanks to a deliberately sabotaged census, we know less about Canada in 2011 than we did about Canada in 2006. Who thinks that’s a good idea?

What’s more, conducting a halfwitted census turned out to be more expensive. The 2011 voluntary household survey increased errors, reduced accuracy, chopped the response rate by 30 per cent – and cost an extra $22-million. Congratulations: The Harper government figured out how to spend more for less.

The decision to kneecap the census was transparently ideological, a rash exercise in partisan narrow-casting, and was quickly exposed as such.

Dozens of experts predicted the damage that would be wrought. It’s time for the Conservative government to finally acknowledge how right they were.

The next opportunity for the House to revisit the Census Act will come next month via another private member’s bill – this one tabled by Conservative backbencher Joe Preston.

It would remove two aspects that are problematic to some Conservatives: jail for refusal to complete the form, and automatic public disclosure after 92 years.

There is still resistance in Mr. Preston’s party to bringing back the mandatory long form. We hope that removing the central justifications for killing it represents an evolving mindset.

Some mistakes are easy to reverse. It may be too late to restore a proper census in 2016, but a return in 2021 should be inevitable.

The census: Little knowledge is a dangerous thing – The Globe and Mail