SXSW Day 2: Mayor Kenney Keeps It Real on Immigration

The Trump administration has been looming over SXSW this year — there was a well-attended discussion titled “A Conversation With the Failing New York Times” and a tech rally for Planned Parenthood, for example. And on Saturday, March 11th, Philly got the opportunity to weigh in on the administration’s controversial immigration policies.

Mayor Kenney sat on a panel titled, “Building Bridges When Other Want to Build Walls” along with fellow panelists Mayor Gonzales of Santa Fe and Kate Brick from the New American Economy, a national coalition of business leaders and mayors. They tackled questions about the current climate for immigrants in the United States and how we can all do our part to support these individuals.

To support immigrants in our community, Kenney said, “Be nice to people. They’re not illegal aliens. They’re not from outer space. They’re human beings.” He added: “If you participate in giving a bully more support, then you are a bully too.”

A running theme of the panel was giving back, whether through donations or volunteerism. Mayor Kenney highlighted programs like Language Access Philly, which ensures accessibility for city services for residents with limited English proficiency, and the upcoming Immigrant Business Week being organized the Department of Commerce and Office of Immigrant Affairs.

The panel put into perspective the fact that Philadelphia’s population resurgence has been largely driven by immigrant communities. Of the nearly one billion dollars in earnings generated by small business owners in the city of Philadelphia, immigrant entrepreneurs are responsible for $770 million, or 72 percent of those earnings. Particularly, with Philly’s tech scene, a number of immigrant-owned startups are thriving.

Here are some other highlights from SXSW Day 2:

-Amplify Philly participants gathered for dinner at Moonshine Grill. Mayor Kenney took the opportunity to reiterate his stance on immigration. He told the group that Philadelphia won’t be backing off of immigrant issues and that the city will continue to be welcoming to all.

-Kenney and City Councilman Allan Domb listened in on a startup demo about emerging technology for cities, like gunshot detection services.


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