Mayor Kasim Reed on Tuesday officially opened Atlanta’s new immigrant affairs office, which aims to help better integrate the city’s foreign-born population with the local community.
Behind only Baltimore, Atlanta is home to the second fastest-growing foreign-born population in the country, though the proportion of that population (14 percent) is small relative to other large metropolitan areas like San Francisco and New York, or rivals like Miami.
The mayor has positioned the Welcoming Atlanta initiative as a way to counteract state-level legislation perceived as anti-immigrant and to promote Atlanta’s reputation for inclusion and tolerance. It’s also an economic bet: Immigrant-owned businesses have a $2.9 billion annual impact on Georgia, and foreign-born residents are more likely than the native-born population to have graduate degrees and start businesses. (See more facts here.)
Mexico is by far the leading country of origin for the foreign-born community in metro Atlanta as a whole, accounting for about one-fourth of the total. India is next at 6.8 percent.
The movement has been in the works for more than a year, starting out as a working group of influential leaders and culminating in the new office staffed by Director Michelle Maziar and Deputy Director Luisa F. Cardona.
The Welcoming Atlanta website compiles resources on citizenship and local services while also publishing stories about how immigrants made it to Atlanta.
Learn more at www.welcomingatlanta.com.
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