Frank Jackson Sort of Clarifies his Immigration Stance

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Mayor Jackson’s unconventional interview-style State of the City address generated some controversy last week. Up for discussion was his backwards, “un-American” approach to attracting immigrants to Cleveland, or apparent lack thereof.

“I believe in taking care of your own,” Jackson said.

The implication, of course, was that Cleveland ought to look after its natives before it endeavors to corral folks from other continents...who may not even speak English!

At any rate, the punditry and non-profit crowds got all in a tizzy about the wording, so Jackson sent an email — reported by the PD’s Mike McIntyre in Saturday’s “Tipoff” — recalibrating his stance.

“When I say that Cleveland needs to ‘take care of its own,’ I am speaking about fostering an atmosphere filled with quality education, sustainable employment and investment opportunities, and a high standard of living. Creating this quality of life infrastructure is the best way to promote our city to everyone, regardless of place of birth,” the mayor wrote.

In other words: exactly what he said at the State of the City.

His email went on to say that since 2006, he’s been making immigration a priority, hosting international delegations, traveling abroad and developing “key global relationships.” The aim, according to the mayor, is to make the city more attractive to future residents.

Joy Roller, President of Global Cleveland, agrees with that approach. She wrote in an email that supporting her organization in their efforts to attract and retain newcomers and to continue fostering “an inclusive and welcoming community” are the most important steps the city can take.

In terms of concrete ways to welcome immigrants, Roller said she’d like to see more public signage in multiple languages.

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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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