Bill Peduto Wants Pittsburgh to Be More Welcoming to Immigrants

This month, Mayor Bill Peduto met with the vice premier of the People’s Republic of China, Liu Yandong, to discuss Pittsburgh’s industrial heritage. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

Mayor Bill Peduto has a new five-year plan to make immigrants feel welcome in Pittsburgh — and hang on to current residents. The Pennsylvania city has seen a severe dip — almost half — in population in the last 55 years.

Peduto’s strategy pinpoints 37 different ways to make Pittsburgh a more hospitable city for new immigrants The three major cornerstones of the plan are: focusing on citizenship and diversity awareness; focusing on city policy and services; and focusing on job creation.

Peduto also plans to hold “Citizenship Days” twice a year to offer legal advice to people considering U.S. citizenship.

“To be competitive, we need to fill the gaps in our labor force and cultivate the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs that will create jobs for new and native Pittsburghers alike,” Peduto wrote in his opening letter of the plan. “We’re going to need a diverse population to do it. When we connect people of all cultures, we set the foundation for a cosmopolitan, prosperous city where residents learn from, welcome, and celebrate their neighbors. The Welcoming Pittsburgh Plan is at the heart of that — it’s our roadmap to foster the potential already in our neighborhoods and to allow Pittsburghers of all backgrounds to come together to build the next chapter in Pittsburgh’s history.”

The Mayor is also pushing a municipal ID card for undocumented immigrants, similar to what New York introduced last year.

A recent Brookings reports outlines how cities are playing a key role in Obama’s immigration reform agenda. Across the state from Peduto, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has also prioritized protection and support for immigrant populations.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that over 2,000 people were surveyed in order to piece the plan together. The goal set is to attract 22,000 new Pittsburgh residents, and also increase youth activities and opportunities for cultural exchange.