Which States are Friendliest to Immigrants

A while back, I got into an unnecessary argument with some friends. This took place about two years ago. Arizona, or maybe it was Alabama, had just passed some extreme anti-immigrant laws.

The point my friends were making was that the overall atmosphere for immigrants was disappointingly hostile. I agreed, sure.

My point was simply that our area – we live in Maryland, near DC – was almost certainly among the best places in the country to be an immigrant. And that being the case, in a purely short-term and self-interested sense, these crazy laws in other states were probably a good thing for us (…now, hear me out).

Assuming that immigrants are aware that Maryland is a great place to be an immigrant – in terms of job opportunities, basic social supports, and a less hostile political atmosphere – they ought to increasingly come here and not go there (Alabama, or Arizona, or Georgia, or South Carolina, or wherever). And that’s a good thing because, in my experience, immigrants work hard and bring with them a host of talents, so our area would thrive while the anti-immigrants states would suffer from a lack of immigrants.

Well, this irritated the hell out of my friends. They like more prescriptive solutions to social problems, and my proposal to relax and let freedom-of-choice do its work probably struck them as at best glib, and at worst libertarian. My friends also enjoy being outraged, and I was suggesting that perhaps outrage wasn’t necessary, and that we might even feel a little pride that we live in a place so accomodating to immigrants.

Which I guess was too much for them. These are dear friends, and though we often stay up late drinking and arguing, and then forget all about it the next day, I heard from both of them – in the form of snide asides – on this matter again.*

*I mean stuff like, “Oh look, the Post has a story on a Guatemalan man hit by a car while crossing Georgia Avenue…one more way in which Maryland is just great for immigrants, I suppose.”

So, let me make the plainest case I can.

No place is perfect, right, but in comparison to other states, it is hard to top Maryland as an immigrant friendly destination. That’s all I was saying.

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