Indianapolis is this State’s Welcome Mat

The data is in, and it is concerning.  A quick look at our city’s recent census data release proves that most of the city’s urban core is still depopulating.  We can not afford to say as a state that certain segments of the population are no longer welcome.  In fact, we should be taking the opposite approach, and welcome new blood with new ideas.


Immigration is a sign of an economically healthy city.  Imagine throwing caution to the wind and traveling a great distance to arrive at a place where you can’t find a job.   In fact, immigration has slowed in this country as a result of our economic downturn.  Exceptions can always be made, but when the economy was humming, immigrants were coming here to make life better for themselves and their families. That’s exactly what my ancestors did when they arrived from Germany over a century ago.  Indeed, immigration is a continuation of our country’s history.

There are practical benefits for cities to encourage immigration.  I challenge anyone to explain how they would populate geographically large areas like West Washington Street or Lafayette Square without a bustling immigrant community.  Otherwise, these buildings would likely be abandoned and the neighborhoods would continue to deteriorate.

The Gay Community

The benefits of welcoming the gay community into depressed urban areas have been well documented.  Chatham Arch or the Old Northside could possibly still be struggling neighborhoods were it not for urban pioneers, many of whom were planning to be without children, which lessens their need for improved schools.  I believe good schools should be paramount for any city, but if you want to turn around a neighborhood fast, becoming gay-friendly is an almost sure-fire winner.


Immigrants and the gay community are vital to a vibrant and attractive city.  With black families now starting to join whites in the suburbs, someone will have to fill the gaps left behind, and the communities previously mentioned can be key components of revitalizing neighborhoods.  Otherwise, Indy risks becoming a donut in reverse: Strong periphery and core, with a hollowed out area in-between.  Indeed, in many cases around the city, this is already true.  Hanging a “You’re Not Welcome” sign at the state border would only serve to exacerbate the problem.

Comments 8

  • Could not agree with you more Kevin. Your article further supports why the impending legislation in this year’s General Assembly could be SO detrimental to the vitallity of our fair city. I for one have been constantly emailing my legislators urging them to vote against the illegal immigration bill and the constitutional ammendment against gay marriage. That with the watered down anti-smoking legislation could set the city back thirty or more years. Architecture does not build a city. People build a city. Without embracing different backgrounds and including their cultures into the fabric of our city, we are left with a stagnant hole that cannot be filled.

    Do your part. Voice your opinion. Let YOUR legislators know how you feel.

  • These topics bug me to death. Im not sure what frustrates me the most. The fact that the bills are being introduced or the fact that the votes are dropping on party lines. Aren’t there any conservatives out there who believe in the power of diversity anymore?

  • As a life long citizen of Indianapolis, I can’t remember a time when I was more visably upset and aggrevated with politics. I wrestle in my head with what to say, but everytime my emotions take over and I just have to step away. This could be one of the most pivotal points in the country’s history. Social and economic issues are as strong as they have ever been. We could take this opportunity to define Indiana’s bright future for alternative energy industries, smarter growth designations, increased educational opportunites, healthier environment for the next generations, improved quality of life……….instead we are faced with 1950’s politics at their best! For 2 years we heard tales of Obama’s scary plan to socialize this country and a wave of anger spread by the media developed our current political makeup, both locally and nationally. So what did we get? A group of people who’s main goal is to say no to the President, undo anything that was started and determine the morals and values for the country’s people. I argue that scary is not knowing who will be banned tomorrow when I wake up, What will I not be able to do because someone’s personal religion dictated it? How many people will have guns at an emotional sporting event? What will we cut funding for, simply because they said we need to reduce spending? I read briefly a comment on rallying on the circle. A good old fashioned cry out against injustice. I think I would be drawn to such an event based on my obligation as a human, no party lines, just doing what is right for the human race. Then I wonder, have we been beaten down so much, told we can’t accomplish anything to the point that people don’t care. We hide behind some angry words on blogs or emails, but what changes? I argue we are at a point where it is enough. This isn’t the next small case in a history of bad decisions. This is a defining moment for this state, this city, our home. I am at a loss………

  • Joe,

    I understand how you feel. Don’t let the emotions get the better of you. Let the emotions fuel you to demand better from your legislators. You have to let them know that their narrow views are not yours. Not all of them will listen, but maybe enough will to find good common sense legislation.

  • Being against illegal immigration does not equate to being against legal immigration. Don’t conflate the two – they are not the same. Again, as always, look to California. I am convinced – and have been since the 90’s, that California’s blessing is its legal immigration and its curse is its illegal immigration. Believe me, you won’t like it when it really gets totally out of hand in Indiana and there is no turning back.

    • Comparing a border state to a landlocked state such as Indiana is an apples to oranges comparison, IMO.

      Targeting the actual immigrants would have many unintentional consequences, including possibly infringing upon the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. I would argue that if there is a beef to be had, it would be with the businesses that knowingly hire people who are here illegally. But the bill was amended to remove the provision that would hold these businesses accountable.

      As a practical matter, the Arizona law has proven to have cost Phoenix a good deal of convention business. Indianapolis recently expanded their convention center. Are the people offering this bill really willing to risk losing out on one of our city’s main assets, while creating a law which will cost the state millions of dollars in court battles? And even if Indiana wins the battle, can we afford to actually implement it? These are the questions that need to be answered before this bill is rushed through to passage.

    • Larry, you can be against illegal immigration (which I too oppose) and still be appalled by a proposal for a racist and unconstitutional law.

      If you are against illegal immigration, then you should encourage your representatives in Congress to increase funding to secure our nation’s borders, develop a viable work visa system in place of the current broken one, and create a more reliable e-verification program for employers. Saddling financially struggling cities, towns, and counties with a huge unfunded new mandate to have their police officers play Gestapo-like game of “papers please” based on racial-profiling is not the answer. This proposed new law will do nothing but ensure Indiana suffers a devastating economic boycott, incurs milllions of dollars in legal expenses, and has its already mediocre reputation tarnished.

  • It’s just too bad that the people tied to racism and religion (at an extreme) keep policy making in Indiana ‘backwards’…like most of the country. I still think NIMBYism is INDY’s worst enemy for developing a vibrant, livable culture.

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