In Support of Heartland Visas

Adopted at the 87th Annual Meeting in 2019

  • WHEREAS, the rate of U.S. population growth has fallen to 80-year lows; and

    WHEREAS, that population growth is leaving more places behind as 86% of counties now grow more slowly than the nation as a whole, up from 64% in the 1990s; and

    WHEREAS, many cities have suffered population losses over the last several decades that have negatively affected efforts to build new, local economies; and

    WHEREAS, population loss reverberates through job markets, making it harder for local employers to thrive and grow; and

    WHEREAS, population loss reverberates through housing markets, depressing home values and increasing vacancies and blight; and

    WHEREAS, population loss reverberates through municipal finances, eroding tax bases and undermining mayors' abilities to invest in the future; and

    WHEREAS, population loss reduces the inherent dynamism of a local economy as businesses close, entrepreneurs leave, and startups find it harder to grow; and

    WHEREAS, immigrants in general and skilled immigrants in particular have been fundamental drivers of U.S. innovation, entrepreneurship, and prosperity since the country's founding; and

    WHEREAS, existing skilled immigration pathways into the United States do little to encourage immigrants to settle in communities struggling with population loss; and

    WHEREAS, instead, the current immigration regime exacerbates the country's economic divides by encouraging skilled immigrants and the economic benefits they bring to concentrate in a handful of metropolitan areas; and

    WHEREAS, numerous cities and localities across the United States outside of the traditional immigration gateways would enthusiastically welcome more skilled immigrants and match them to job opportunities; and

    WHEREAS, immigration is often the difference between population loss and population growth for U.S. cities; and

    WHEREAS, skilled immigration serves to unlock the latent potential of communities and residents as local economies revitalize, job opportunities increase, and city services improve; and

    WHEREAS, employers frequently note that their inability to find qualified workers to fill local job opportunities prevents them from expanding in our communities; and

    WHEREAS, more strategic federal immigration policy could provide cities with new sources of residents to bolster local economies, fill vacant homes and storefronts, strengthen municipal finances, and rekindle economic dynamism; and

    WHEREAS, mayors around the country are in fact already making welcoming immigrants and refugees centerpieces of their economic development strategies; and

    WHEREAS, mayoral efforts to attract and integrate immigrants often lack sufficient support from the federal government,

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors believes federal policy should do more to support mayors throughout the country in their efforts to confront the consequences of U.S. demographic challenges, and endorses the idea of a "heartland visa" that would provide a new pathway for skilled immigrants to be matched to welcoming communities suffering from population stagnation or decline that would opt-in to such a policy if it aligns with their local policy and economic development goals.

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