LATELY — 10 July 2012

Michael Bloomberg on Immigrants

There’s a nice little interview with Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of NYC, in the this month’s Monocle (July/August 2012) in which he discusses the benefits immigrants bring to a city and country. It’s almost moving.

M: you have made strong speeches in support of immigration. Why?

MB: The solution to America’s problems is getting immigrants from around the world who come in and start businesses with a work ethic that is almost always better than the people who have been there for multiple generations, because we all get comfortable.

Immigrants are self-selected. They are people who want to make it better. And anyone willing to give up their friends, family, culture, housing, everything they know, to take the risks–those people work harder almost by definition. And that’s what you need to encourage those who have been there for generations, to challenge them and make them understand that they gotta do it too.

America has a terrible immigration policy. If anybody gets through that, New York is probably where they want to come and that’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to create jobs. Our cuisine, our culture, our language, everything is all mixed together in New York. And the other thing is that New York City lives as a mixture and so in the ultimate Irish Catholic neighborhood of Bay Ridge, for example, there are probably more Muslims per capita than anywhere else. New Yorkers mix in the streets, they stand next to each other at Starbucks, buy a newspaper at the same kiosk. Strangers look different, sound different, smell different, act different, but they become non- threatening just because of proximity. You are with them all the time. Even if you don’t build personal relationships or go and break bread together, you can still live together and that is New York’s great strength.