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Marketplace in Miami: Mayor Tomás Regalado, Miami, and the American Dream

Joe Raedle
Getty Images

Miami is a city made up of people from all walks of life. No one knows that better than Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado.

"Miami is one of the most diverse cities in the world," says the mayor. "Sixty-some percent of people living in Miami were born outside the United States."

Regalado is one of them. Born in Cuba, he came to the United States at age 14. After a distinguished career as a journalist , Regalado was elected mayor in 2009.

Regalado sees his city's diversity as emblematic of 21st century America. "Miami, I guess, is the only city that officially has an area called Little Havana, Little Haiti, Little Managua, Little Tegucigalpa... I think Miami is what the United States will be in 25 to 30 years."

Miami is also one of the country's richest cities, and one of its poorest. Given that reality, Regalado says he's working to implement policies aimed at closing the city's wealth gap and strengthen the middle class.

"Miami is trying to become like Dallas, a city that will be a regional center for investors," says Regalado. "We have to seize the opportunity with Latin America and Asia to bring investors to Miami."

As the immigrant mayor of a city of immigrants, Regalado firmly believes that the American Dream is still achievable for people coming to this country.

"Number one, they need to understand that this is a country of law, understand that they need to follow the rules, understand that they have to work, and not live on handouts -- and by doing that, people can succeed," the mayor says.

As his city continues to rebound from the recent recession, Regalado believes other U.S. cities, as well as the federal government, could learn a few lessons from Miami's recovery.

"Learn about how Miami survived the crisis and is coming back as a great city by doing what every family in the U.S. did at the time, and is doing now -- living within its means," says Regalado. "I know this is very difficult for Washington to understand, but I'm not going to kill a city to save a government."

This week, the Marketplace Morning Report is broadcasting from WLRN