Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has a new plan to re-populate the city of Detroit, according to Reuters. Snyder announced that he would ask the United States government to offer 50,000 visas over the next five years to highly skilled immigrants if they would agree to come to the city of Detroit to live and work.
Although immigration reforms are considered a highly charged political issue, Rick Snyder sees it as one possible way to stop the population drain of the financially desperate city. Over the last fifty years the population of Detroit has plummeted from a record 1.8 million residents in 1950 to less than 700,000 now. The population drain has resulted in lost tax revenues, increased crimes in unpopulated areas of the city and lost employment opportunities.
Rick Snyder claims immigrants could revitalize the city
Rick Snyder believes the decline in population is one of the main obstacles to revitalizing the city. If immigrant visas were offered he believes more companies would be willing to relocate to the city and bring necessary employment.
Detroit doesn’t just need more workers; they need the right workers. Rick Snyder understands that to really improve the city workers need to be highly skilled with advanced degrees and exceptional skills in fields such as the auto industry, information technology, healthcare and life sciences. This means the visas offered would be EB-2 visas. Under his plan, however, individuals would not have to have a job to enter the country, only the necessary job skills.
The federal government does not currently have a special immigration policy which targets immigration for a specific geographic area, although there are visas which are offered to physicians who agree to work in under-served areas. Rick Snyder admits new federal policies may have to be created to achieve his goals. Rick Snyder had a meeting with officials from the Obama administration last Friday, and he hopes to get some type of agreement from officials without having to fight for legislative action from Congress.
“It’s really taking up the offer of the federal government that they want to help more,” Rick Snyder told reporters. “Again, they made it clear they don’t have dollar resources to necessarily help, but isn’t this a great way that doesn’t involve large-scale financial contributions from the federal government to do something dramatic in Detroit?”
Status of Detroit
Creative ideas will be needed to save the city of Detroit, which has more than $18 billion in debt and declared bankruptcy in July of this year. Detroit has also been unable to provide basic services to its residents.
Detroit’s Democratic Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit city council members have been supportive of Snyder’s plan arguing that there are strong incentives for immigrants to come to the city. Critics of the program argue that even if immigrants were brought to the city it would be hard to legally keep them in Detroit and not let them move to other more prosperous areas of the country.
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