In an period where we seem to have forgotten how we all got here, Dayton has decided to swim against the stream of anti-immigrant fervor. Tough new laws in Alabama and Georgia are proving effective in driving away undocumented immigrants and even more effective at slashing agricultural production. Even though all those juicy farm worker jobs are there for the picking (sorry), American workers have not picked up the slack and these states are turning to ex-cons and chain gangs to pick the produce before it rots on the vine.
We have traded a group of workers we have labeled criminal because of their overwhelming desire to be in this country for a group of workers that became criminals despite their status as full-fledged American citizens. It is ironic, but I am sure the humor is lost on both groups.
In this climate, Dayton has decided to go another way. They are embracing immigration and even the immigrants that are a necessary part of it. The Welcome Dayton plan hopes to use the economic and entrepreneurial energy of immigrants to grow its economy. They have developed a comprehensive plan that covers business development, the justice system, culture, education, health and social services. It is a model for other cities that want to return to America’s fundamental roots as a melting pot of people and ideas.