New book explores why immigration benefits old and new Americans

The author of a new book explains how the town of Utica, New York was revitalized by a strong wave of immigration.

The United States has often accepted enormous waves of immigrants from all over the world. But while it’s true that immigration trends are strong in this country, the U.S. has had short comings when it comes to accepting refugees.

The number of refugees being resettled in the U.S. has plummeted from about 200,000 in 1980 to just above 11,000 in 2020 and 2021. And this is at a time when the world is seeing some of the largest numbers of people seeking refuge since we’ve been recording that statistic.

“Where there had been abandoned factories and buildings, there was new light, there were new stores.” — Susan Hartman, author

A new book by journalist Susan Hartman makes the case that immigration is good for America, and that immigrants are a lifeline to American people and cities across the country. Her book is called “City of Refugees,” and it explores the lives of several refugees who remake their lives in Utica, New York, benefiting both them and Utica.

Listen: How immigrants improve U.S. cities.



Susan Hartman is the author of the book “City of Refugees: The Story of Three Newcomers Who Breathed Life into a Dying American Town.” She says Utica, New York was struggling mightily prior to the arrival of new Americans from all over the world.

“Where there had been abandoned factories and buildings, there was new light, there were new stores,” says Hartman. “There had been hundreds of abandoned houses because there had been a lot of arson, especially in the 90s, and waves of immigrants — especially the Bosnians — had come in, worked, bought these houses very cheaply, restored them and brought life back to the neighborhoods.”

Trusted, accurate, up-to-date.

WDET strives to make our journalism accessible to everyone. As a public media institution, we maintain our journalistic integrity through independent support from readers like you. If you value WDET as your source of news, music and conversation, please make a gift today.

Donate today »


  • Detroit Today
    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.