Can Baltimore Fill Its Urban Barrios With Aliens To Save Its Bond Ratings?

There’s an old joke about the businessman who admits he loses money on every sale, but plans to make it up with volume. The mayor of Baltimore MD, and apparently some other innumerate city politicians around the country, similarly expect to make up their deteriorating tax bases with tax-eating immigrants.

These politicians want to “do growth” for growth’s sake, while reducing benefits for existing citizens. Adding alien populations for population’s sake is a mindless, merciless, manic mistake.

But there’s a reason they do it.

This week the Washington Post hyped the trend on Page One, in an article by two Latino reporters:

The fate of Baltimore may rest with immigrants like Alexandra Gonzalez.

A native of Puebla, Mexico, Gonzalez feels more at home in Baltimore with every passing year. She attends city-run [My emphasis—DAC] nutrition and exercise classes in Spanish and takes her two young children to a Spanish-language storytelling hour at her neighborhood library. She plans to earn a GED and become a teacher.

“I like living here,” said Gonzalez, 24, as she pushed a stroller holding her sleeping 1-year-old daughter and bags of purchases from a dollar store in the blue-collar Highlandtown neighborhood. “They don’t look at you weird because you don’t speak English.

[Baltimore puts out welcome mat for immigrants, hoping to stop population decline, by Carol Morello and Luz Lazo, Washington Post, July 24, 2012]

Hey, you don’t worry about English?

No, indeed, WaPo’s Latino reporters gloat:

Baltimore has undergone a shift in attitude. In 2004, then-Maryland Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D), a former mayor and governor, chastised immigrants who don’t speak English well after a Spanish-speaking cashier at a McDonald’s had trouble understanding his order.

“I don’t want to adjust to another language,” Schaefer said. “This is the United States. I think they ought to adjust to us.” [Transcript, Listen]

Eight years later, Baltimore and many other cities are adjusting.

WaPo explains:

The degree to which Gonzalez feels welcome is no accident.

After decades of seeing the city’s population slide with every census count, Baltimore officials are trying to turn things around. One key strategy is embracing immigrants, in the hope they will encourage friends and family to join them.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) has told Latinos, in particular, that she is counting on them to help Baltimore gain 10,000 families within a decade. As a first step, she signed an order in March prohibiting police and social agencies from asking anyone about immigration status—and in the order, she explicitly asked federal immigration authorities to tell anyone they arrest that they are not agents of the city.”

(My emphasis).

Does this mayor get some kind of points from citizen voters for adding costs to the city budget? How can she justify betraying the Rule of Law?

These officials are saying, let’s bet that allowing more uneducated immigrants to come in with low skills and no jobs to augment the already bloated urban barrios will be great for our city!

Of course, the businesses started in these urban barrios will be Ma and Pa retail stores that take in the new arrivals’ money. Will that money come from work or welfare?

If cities in similar plights adopt Baltimore’s idiot attitude, they can expect the fate of places like LA, Anaheim and countless others around the country.

Contrary to the WaPo reporters’’ unexamined assumption, the truth is that falling population is not necessarily bad at all. It can lower the costs of public services, lower crime, reduce traffic problems, make housing more affordable etc. etc.

So what are these worthies thinking? Well, WaPo’s Morello and Lazo tells us that

The 2010 census was a tipping point. Most cities that grew had Hispanics and, to a lesser degree, Asians to thank. Cities with few immigrants lost political power and federal money as district lines and funding formulas changed to reflect new census numbers. [My emphasis—DAC]

“The census has shown cities definitively what the population trend is,” said Margie McHugh, an immigration expert with the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute. “It got a lot of smart people in city and state governments looking 10 years ahead and thinking hard about what the economic future for cities could be.”

So it really boils down to elected officials and bureaucrats (“smart people in city and state governments”) seeing a way to get federal money and save their jobs—at the expense of the American taxpayers in the cities and states they control.

Listen to the Post again:

In Michigan, former state House majority leader Steve Tobocman (D) heads Global Detroit, built around the idea that immigration can drive an economic rebound. The group plans to provide training in how to start “micro enterprises” and has created a “welcome mat” network of social service agencies that offer English and citizenship classes. It hopes to draw both entrepreneurial engineers who graduate from the state’s universities and working-class immigrants who can start small neighborhood businesses.

“Immigrants have a lot to contribute to job creation and economic growth,” Tobocman said.”

Does this sound like a replay of the housing crisis build-up or the historic financial meltdown that followed?

Cities, like those too-big-to-fail banks, are getting into real financial trouble.

As the July 26th Wall Street Journal told us

Some cash-strapped U.S. cities are walking away from their financial obligations, exposing potential risks in the municipal-bond market.

The moves are reminiscent of the strategic defaults seen during the financial crisis when many homeowners, overwhelmed by spiraling debts, mailed house keys to lenders and stopped paying their mortgages—a trend known as “jingle mail.” Now some cities are confronting similar dilemmas, and their choices could have repercussions on workers, taxpayers and bondholders.

Municipal-debt investors have long banked on the belief that local governments would never default or seek bankruptcy protection unless they had made every effort to repay creditors. If that meant they had to raise taxes or cut services, so be it.

Municipalities traditionally have believed that using bankruptcy as a tool to put their finances in order wasn`t worth the risk of alienating creditors and being closed out of the $3.7 trillion municipal bond market.

But in the past month, officials in four California cities—Stockton, Mammoth Lakes, Compton, and San Bernardino—have either filed or indicated they may file for bankruptcy protection.

Muni Blues Worry Investors–Growing Fear That Cities Will Default–Not Only of Necessity but as a Strategy, By Michael Corkery, July 25, 2012

Instead of facing the music, cutting costs and bringing realistic spending for existing citizens, these politicians and bureaucrats are going to make urban blight worse in the long run by struggling to save their jobs in the short term.

My advice to Baltimore citizens: don’t let them!

Donald A. Collins [email him], a free lance writer living in Washington, DC. , is Co-Chair of the National Advisory Board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). However, his views are his own