One of the more interesting panels was a group of mayors (and a city council member from Detroit). The entire conference is very pro-immigration, but it was clear that at the city level there are needs that don't get translated into national level legislation. Detroit's mayor has called for bringing in 50,000 skilled migrants in the next 5 years in the face of unemployment being at 30%. One important point made by Council Member Raquel Casteneda-Lopez was that the definition of skilled migrants needs to be broadened - for example, some construction jobs require high levels of technical ability and those who are qualified should be considered skilled workers. The Mayor of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz has been sending letters encouraging migrants who are eligible for citizenship to apply. This led to a significant increase in naturalizations in Hamburg. Many cities have created "welcome centers" for migrants, basically one-stop shops where they can apply for benefits, get information on educational opportunities, etc.
I appreciated the remarks of Rita Suessmuth who was instrumental in getting immigration legislation passed in Germany. She emphasized that integration is a two-way street and that all humans have skills, it is up to society to tap into those skills so that they can develop their potential. Some other highlights of the conference included a speech by Naika Foroutan who is working on issues of immigrant integration in Germany and is the vice-director of the Berlin Institute for Empirical Research on Integration and Migration (BIM) at Humboldt University. Doug Saunders talked about his experience with arrival cities, he has also written a book on the topic. He notes that some neighborhoods are set up in a way that encourage immigrant success, while others may set up hurdles. The day ended with a debate about the possibility of soccer (football) playing a role in ending racism.