Mayor Kasim Reed has a message for immigrants living in the region’s rural areas: Move to Atlanta.
“The truth of the matter is a lot of our foreign-born population lives in rural areas in the region and so I am telling those folks, ‘I think you are better off being inside the city limits,’” Reed told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday after announcing new efforts for welcoming immigrants and encouraging them to naturalize as U.S. citizens. “And if other folks don’t want to stand up and welcome you, why are you there?”
“I think that folks that don’t embrace these communities,” he continued without identifying anyone, “are on the wrong side of history, No. 1, and they are also on the wrong side of the economy.”
Reed, a Democrat who has been outspoken in support of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration, also criticized Texas’s Republican governor, Greg Abbott. Texas is leading a group of 25 other states — including Georgia — in suing to block the Obama administration’s plans to shield from deportation millions of immigrants without legal status. The states argue those plans amount to an unconstitutional end-run around Congress.
“So as much as… the governor of Texas criticizes immigrants and beats up on the immigrant population in Texas,” Reed told reporters, “if the foreign-born population in Texas were to actually leave and go back to the countries of their origin, Texas’ economy would crater.”
Abbott’s office had no immediate comment.
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