Michael Bloomberg on Immigrants

10 July 2012

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.