Immigrants

Pittsburgh has been trying to attract immigrants to bolster the city’s population – less than half its peak in the 1950s. Monday Mayor Bill Peduto released the plan detailing how, exactly, to do that best.

Aside from growing the city’s population and increasing diversity there’s an economic reason to woo immigrants: they tend to be more entrepreneurial  than native-born Americans.

Pittsburgh marks World Refugee Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday in Market Square with musical performances, food and services for local refugees.

Agencies resettle about 500 refugees every year in the Pittsburgh area, an upward trend from 10 years ago. Most hail from Bhutan, Burma, Somalia and Iraq.

The city has become a hub for secondary migration for refugees initially placed in other areas who move to the Steel City for family, vibrant ethnic communities or employment opportunities. About a thousand secondary migrants have moved here every year since 2011.

Shaun / Flickr

As the year comes to a close, we’re looking back on 2014 and airing some of the Essential Pittsburgh stories that were most popular on our website, wesa.fm.

To hear the full-length audio for this story, take a look at the original web post.

Back in October some folks weren’t quite sure what to make of Pittsburgh’s ascension -- or, descension -- to the final four in America’s ugliest accent tournament, created by the website Gawker. Was this honor a source of pride or a put-down to a certain part of our citizenry?

Shaun / Flickr

  

Updated at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday: Pittsburgh has advanced to the final round of Gawker's "America's Ugliest Accent" tournament. But is this a source of pride or a source of embarrassment?

Some area linguists argue that when people make fun of local accents or describe them as “ugly,” they’re actually making fun of poor and working class people.

University of Pittsburgh linguistics professor Scott Kiesling has researched the Pittsburgh accent in collaboration with Barbara Johnstone, CMU professor of English and linguistics and author of "Speaking Pittsburghese."

Jess Lasky

  Mayor William Peduto has officially named this week “National Welcoming Week” in Pittsburgh, and as part of the week the City County Building is hosting an exhibit showcasing some immigrants to Allegheny County for the next month.

“What better way than to open up city hall and promote that message of immigrant integration, so that passersby, just regular people who are coming in and out of our building are getting to see the faces of our growing immigrant community,” said Betty Cruz, nonprofit and faith-based manager for the mayor’s office.

Since October, more than 52,000 unaccompanied children have been taken into custody by U.S. border agents according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Holy Family Institute’s announcement that it will take in about three dozen of these children has been met mostly with backlash from the Pittsburgh region.

According to Holy Family, the children are under the age of 12, which the institute stated makes up about 20 percent of the migrating children.

Maria Antonio came to the United States 11 years ago with her husband and her son, who is now 13 years old.

She has since had two more children, but they all face the threat of losing their father because he has been involved in a deportation case with immigration for two years.

“My children say to me regularly: ‘Mommy, are we going to be separated, are they going to send daddy away?’” Antonio said. “This is what we most fear – not just my family, but all families.”

She, her husband and her oldest child are part of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Carl Pietzner / Wikipedia

One-hundred years ago this Saturday, June 28, 1914, Arch-duke Francis Ferdinand, nephew and heir of the Austrian Emperor, was shot and killed by Gavrilo Princip while riding in an open car through the Bosnian capital. The tragic incident set in motion events that led to the start of World War I.

As the national debate on immigration reform continues, local officials are examining the role immigrants play in helping communities grow.

Pittsburgh and other Rust Belt cities have struggled for years to grow the economy while the population continues to decline.

For a decade, Pennsylvania allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Now immigrants in the commonwealth face long odds to restore the old rule.

The undocumented Pennsylvania residents who gathered Wednesday at the state Capitol – some with U.S.-born children, some whose spouses had been deported – said that as Washington dithers on overhauling immigration laws, state lawmakers could do something to help immigrants contribute to the commonwealth’s economy.

Deportations Leave a Footprint in the Mental Health of the Family Remaining in the US

Jan 9, 2014

At 11 years old, Jennifer Barajas says that she has a broken heart. As soon as she begins to talk about her father, Ramón Salvador Barajas, who is in the process of being deported, the smile disappears from Jennifer’s face.

“The day they caught him, I waited and waited, and I saw that that he wasn’t coming, and I became sad. And now we have been without him six months, and I don’t want to be without him any longer because we all feel alone,” said the Mexican girl.

New Arrivals in the US Face Vast Health Challenges

Jan 6, 2014

Immigrants come to the United States fleeing war and genocide. Others arrive seeking better opportunities for their families. But whether they are refugees from Nepal seeking asylum or undocumented Mexican families in Los Angeles, immigrants share common circumstances. Many arrive healthy but develop chronic illnesses as they adopt American habits. Many feel isolated and alone – suffering that can turn toxic over time.