Category: St. Louis Immigrants

Towns may serve as immigration test centers

Detroit has long stood as a symbol of how important workers can be to the success of a town. Being described today as a ghost town with high crime rates and recently bankrupt, Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, believes he has the one and only solution to get the town back on its feet. Through funneling immigrants to work and rebuild the town, it may be Detroit’s only chance and option to help the state.

Snyder plans on building an immigrant community

Snyder’s unusual plan has a few people optimistic and on board with the idea of creating a new community. His idea is to repopulate and rebuild Detroit to help “stimulate education, the arts, technology and manufacturing…” Because of the desolution in the area, there is poverty within the community and a spiral that has left children going to poor schools and barely any jobs available. By allowing immigrants to settle in the community, this would serve as a method to slowly stray away from the vicious cycle of poverty.

Snyder’s idea has led many other cities that need help to think they may try the same thing. In fact, some officials want to make Detroit a test city to see if offering visas to the highly educated and bringing them to a city will help it economically and culturally. St. Louis is one of these cities that has taken initiative to attract immigrants to help improve it economically.

Some criticize the plan for only picking out educated immigrants

There are, however, some criticisms of this plan. First off, while it may be a good idea to bring the immigrants to a city like Detroit, there is nothing stopping immigrants from leaving these cities for bigger and more well-known areas. Immigrants cannot be required to stay in one city, but if they leave and invest in other towns, this defeats the purpose of having them come here.

Another issue is the requirements of visas for families with educated members. There is a problem with saying that the U.S. will only take world-class entrepreneurs. In fact, many of the founders of successful firms come from poorer or blue-collar families. Whether or not immigration reform will pass this year, cities want to have the ability to try to improve their communities with immigration, but they need Congress’s approval.

If you have questions regarding applying for a visa or immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.

Pro-immigrant groups urged to focus on cultural benefits of increased immigration

According to Forbes Magazine, policymakers are focusing on the wrong issues regarding immigration. Conflicts have arisen over debates of border security and economics, but the largest contribution immigrants bring with themselves is their impact on civic culture.

Immigration Debate focusing on Negatives

The current debate over immigration tends to divide immigrants into very specific negative categories of “workers vs. welfare recipients, legal vs. illegal, skilled vs. unskilled, etc.” However all immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, picked up and left their home countries to move to the U.S. for a better life. If we focused more on the culture and the positive contributions immigrants have to bring to this nation, Congress would find a common ground to unify their differences.

Immigrants impact culture and patriotism

Immigration is in itself a difficult process as poor immigrants risk their wellbeing and sometimes take life threatening means to travel to another country, and even those who are more established end up having to leave behind jobs prospects and a more certain life. Because of these hardships, immigrants tend to be more likely to succeed and start new businesses to justify the sacrifices they made by leaving their home countries. In addition, immigrants tend to appreciate their communities more because they understand the importance of solid roots.

“The senses of place, belonging and deep familiarity are missing from daily life and must be recreated for the immigrant to feel whole again.” This also causes immigrants to want to be seen and accepted as good citizens to their new country. Congress is forgetting to ask what will happen to American patriotism if we continue to restrict immigration. By restricting immigration progress, policymakers are indirectly stunting America’s growth and keeping it closed and stagnant from the rest of the world. This article points out a flaw in legislator’s goals for immigration reform which is set to be introduced within the coming weeks.

If you have questions regarding applying for a visa or immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.

St. Louis Community College cuts tuition rates for undocumented students

Beginning in January 2014, undocumented students with a Missouri high school diploma will pay lower tuition rates at St. Louis Community College.  For many students, their tuition will be cut in half.

The school is believed to be the first Missouri school to offer the tuition break.

A story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Joanie Friend, the school’s director of enrollment management as saying “we were hoping that fedreally they would make some sort of movement,” referring to the failed effort for comprehensive immigration reform.  The piece also quotes Virginia Braxs, president of the Hispanic Arts Council as saying:

It’s a huge need.  It’s important to give every single kid a chance at education and getting out of that cycle of poverty … I think it’s amazing, amazing news.  There is a real chance to be part of the American dream.

Undocumented studnts will no longer be considred “international” students, who pay the highest rate of $209 per credit hour.  Instead, their tuition rates will be based upon where they live – $98 per credit hour if they live in the district, $144 if they live outside.  This is important because may of these students come from lower economic backgrounds and do not qualify for many types of financial aid.

The University of Missouri-St. Louis charges $315 for state residents and $815 per credit hour for non-residents, including undocumented students.  UMSL is reportedly also working on in-state tuition for undocumented students with a Missouri diploma.

Schools have seen an influx of applications from undocumented students who have been able to come out of the shadows thanks to President Obama’s deferred action for childhood arrivals.

Local Welcoming Initiatives Help Build a Nation of Neighbors | St. Louis Deportation Attorney Jim Hacking

Various new programs are being implemented in cities that expect or hope to attract more immigrants. From well established names such as Welcoming America to new programs called Welcoming Cities and Counties initiative, the goal is to create a welcome environment in communities for immigrants.

Immigrants giving competitive edge to cities

Many of these groups attempt to form a cooperation and respect between foreign born and U.S. born Americans. By creating a welcoming atmosphere, communities are able to help immigrants integrate into their society easily. Furthermore, many cities have recognized that attracting and retaining immigrants will help give them a competitive edge among other local governments and communities. In fact several large cities nationwide are jumping on the bandwagon with these groups to help attract immigrants. Business and political leaders in St. Louis, Missouri recently announced their plan to welcome immigrants to the “gateway to the west.” Through methods of cooperation between business leaders, the local government and institutions, immigrants are predicted to come to St. Louis and help recover a faltering economy.

Successful programs implemented

Another program has already released important information of what successful cities do to attract and keep immigrants in their areas. Any program or activity that could help an immigrant succeed is a good investment in the future. Residents who are eager to help out help create a cohesive atmosphere and promote diversity. Immigrants “not only help stem population loss, alleviate aging population trends, and fill labor market gaps, but they also inject new energy into local economies and boost housing markets.” Additionally with more immigrants opening small businesses in communities, local city leaders are interested in implementing immigrants integration initiatives to help residents. Immigrants contribute to communities far more than economically, but expand the social and cultural features. They develop more vibrant and diverse communities that are more open to learning from each other.

If you have questions regarding the new immigration reform, applying for a visa or the changing immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.

St. Louis Tech World Welcomes Immigrants | Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking

Rust belt cities such as St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Dayton, Ohio have long lost their allure for drawing business with declining populations and manufacturing jobs. However, with new efforts in an attempt to revive the cities through attracting immigrants, the cities are offering large incentives to help new businesses start up and thrive.

Incentives for immigrants and investors

In Arnoldo Muller-Molina’s case, a Costa Rican native with a PhD in artificial intelligence, St. Louis became a more appealing place to move his business than either the Silicon Valley or New York. Muller-Molina received a $50,000 grant to move his database company to St. Louis where he also received free legal assistance, help in obtaining EB5 investors visas and free mentoring services. With less competition from other large businesses that he would have received in the Silicon Valley, Muller-Molina is set to thrive in the Midwest. Rush belt cities are hoping that through offering free services and helping to draw  immigrants to their towns they will be able to revive the cities with more job openings and a thriving economy.

Immigrants tend to live in larger cities, but they also tend to move where they can find jobs. If the new immigration legislation passes then large cities will reap benefits but smaller cities focusing on reviving their economies can also offer more opportunities to job seekers. “A 2011 study from the American Enterprise Institute concluded that immigrants with advanced degrees as well as immigrants of any skill level on temporary visas create jobs for native-born Americans.” With the support of influential leaders such as Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, who has publicly announced his support for the immigration legislation, more cities are opening up their doors to immigrants. “It’s important to have this kind of vibrancy and talent to make for a growing economy,” said Jerry Schlichter, a St. Louis-based attorney who founded Arch Grants in 2011. “We need to have this kind of international educated workforce to compete in a global economy.”

Growing trend in welcoming immigrants

The negative attitudes towards immigrants after the 9/11 attacks have created numerous challenges, restrictions, and anti-immigration legislation in multiple municipalities. Despite these challenges, immigrants are eager to be welcomed into communities and start their businesses. A study published by Saint Louis University found that “increasing the number of immigrants will raise employment, grow income, boost real wages, reverse declining home prices and lower unemployment rates.” St. Louis has seen a significant population decline by 62.7 percent since 1950 and the unemployment rate continues to hover at a higher rate than the state average. The city is hoping that by investing in immigrants, they will be able to revive their city and mitigate the damage done by the recent recession and bring people back to the city.

If you have questions regarding the new immigration reform, applying for a visa or the changing immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.

St. Louis has new point person on effort to boost immigration

Over the past few years, St. Louis has made an effort to attract new talent to the area with an aging and shrinking population. St. Louis officials put a face to the effort to make the area more successful and announced that Betsey Cohen will be the first project director of the regional immigration and innovation initiative.

Who is else is getting involved

The St. Louis County Economic Council, the St. Louis Development Corp. and the St. Louis Regional Center are collaborating efforts with other economic agencies to help propel the immigration push forward. With Cohen working with the county’s Economic Council and the World Trade Center-St. Louis Office, she will have the help of full time staff persons managing the effort to boost immigration. Another committee of local advocates, representatives of the International Institute and Jack Strauss, a Saint Louis University economics professor who authored a 202-page study on the benefits of immigration will also be giving their time.

Strauss’ study found that successful metropolitan areas had increasing immigration whereas St. Louis was lacking due to their low immigrant population. Compared to other cities in the U.S., we have been experiencing negative effects on economic and income growth. Strauss also wrote that other metropolitan areas had four to five times the number of foreign-born residents and have averaged 40 percent faster economic growth over the past decade.

Missouri taking action to achieve better economic growth

After these findings came out, a 20 member committee was formed to come up with recommendations for increasing immigration. Cohen is now in charge of the initiative and will work as St. Louis’s representative for immigrants. “Betsy is great at bringing people together to work toward a common goal, which makes her an outstanding choice to move the agenda of St. Louis’ Immigration & Innovation Initiative forward,” said the International Institute’s Anna Crosslin, who is on the steering committee, in a statement. “I am personally and professionally delighted she is joining our team.” St. Louis may finally beginning to follow the Congressional trend towards including immigrants in our societies and allowing everyone to see the benefits of their contributions to our economy.

If you have questions regarding the new immigration reform, applying for a visa or the changing immigration laws, contact us at 314-961-8200 or visit our contact page.

St. Louis Immigration Attorney Jim Hacking Meets With New City Fellowship

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with leaders and congregation members at New City Fellowship Church in University City on Sunday, June 27, 2011.  The group made me feel very welcome and I felt like we were able to discuss many immigration related issues.

We talked about immigration delays and the ways that lawsuits can assist in moving cases forward.  We spent a lot of time talking about refugees and the important work that NCF is doing with local refugees. We discussed the necessity of applying for immigration benefits as soon as possible.  Many questions focused on how to help family members oversees and the problems that people have in sponsoring family members to come to the United States.  I also let them know about great legal resources for immigrants including Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates and Interfaith Legal Services for Immigrants.

I enjoyed my time at the Church and was impressed by the openness and dedication that church members showed towards helping new immigrants.  I was inspired by their devotion to helping newly arrived immigrants adjust to life in St. Louis, Missouri USA.

St. Louis callers on President Obama’s call for comprehensive immigration reform

I stumbled across an interesting video clip from a few weeks ago on KSDK Newschannel 5.  Channel 5 apparently links up with country radio personality Cornbread on a semi-regular basis to discuss the issues of the day.  Suprisingly, both sides of the debate were featured.

Working as an advocate for immigration reform and on behalf of my non-citizen clients, I sometimes forget the vitriol and level of anger from some members of society.  I was particularly struck by the first caller who said she was an immigrant from Bosnia who had obtained her citizen.  She was adamently opposed to allowing “illegal immigrants” from getting into status.  Not sure what her solution would be, but struck by the level of anger and righteousness in her voice.

Brookings Institution Says St. Louis Has 3 times as many high-skilled immigrants as low-skilled

Although St. Louis stands in the bottom fifth of major metropolitan areas on the overall number of immigrants, the immigrants who live in our region are “unusually likely” to be well-educated, according to the report in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  While conceding that “St. Louis is not a big immigrant gateway,” author Tim Logan posits that local university, health care and high-tech employers have brought an increasing number of highly-skilled employees to the region.

The report from the Brookings Institution stands as yet another example of the fact that you can’t simply stereotype immigrants in broad strokes.  St. Louis should do everything it can to bring more and more high-tech employers to the region and to make the region as welcoming as possible – for low-skilled and high-skilled employees as well.  On a larger scale, our country needs to reform immigration laws so as to increase the number of immigrants allowed to stay in the United States and develop strong businesses to support our economy.