America's Arrival City: How Immigration Made New York and How Immigrant Exclusion Almost Destroyed It
New York is America’s quintessential arrival city. The city’s defining institutions; its economy; its skyscrapers, parks and infrastructure; its schools, hospitals and social services and its cultural ecosystem have all been produced through the city’s reception of the millions that have arrived at its shores. Nevertheless, New York’s urban policy has consistently defined immigrants as blight. Urban planning policies, especially those that address the build environment, have, throughout the city’s history, targeted immigrant communities, and have sought to contain and exclude immigrant populations. The tension between the city’s reliance on immigration for its vitality and its urban policies of immigrant exclusion has shaped the city’s development and defined its modern form. This commentary addresses this tension and shows that for an arrival city like New York urban policy and immigration policy are one in the same.