Atlanta mayor announces plans for welcoming new arrivals

Mayor Kasim Reed on Wednesday announced his administration will create an office of multicultural affairs as part of Atlanta's efforts to create a welcoming environment for everyone regardless of race, ethnicity or native country.

The mayor also disclosed the Atlanta Police Department will create a “multicultural liaison unit.” Further, city police and prosecutors will target people who prey on immigrants through tax and credit card scams and other fraudulent schemes, the mayor said. Additionally, according to the mayor, the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency will help recruit and train foreign-born workers.

Those initiatives come from 20 recommendations made by the mayor’s Welcoming Atlanta Working Group. Reed announced them amid National Welcoming Week, which highlights the contributions of immigrants.

Nearly 8 percent of Atlanta's population is foreign-born, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That number is 9.7 percent for Georgia.

Between 2000 and 2012, immigrants accounted for nearly two-thirds of Atlanta's population growth, according to a Partnership for a New American Economy report based on census data. The city's foreign-born population grew by nearly 22 percent during that time frame, from 27,352 to 33,358. Meanwhile, the native-born population grew by less than 1 percent.

“As Atlanta positions itself to be a global leader, attracting and retaining talent is imperative,” Reed said in a prepared statement. “The Welcoming Atlanta initiative builds upon the existing priorities for the city — public safety, welfare, economic development, civic engagement and education — and in so doing, will not only create an environment that is welcoming to new arrivals, but a stronger community for all Atlantans.”