Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham derided Michigan Republican Gov. Rick Snyder's plan to attract skilled immigrants to work and live in bankrupt Detroit, saying "we can then wall off Detroit" to keep those immigrants from moving to other parts of the country.
During a January 23 news conference, Snyder announced a plan to lure immigrants to Detroit by reportedly "seeking 50,000 work visas solely for the city over five years." As the Associated Press reported:
The type of visas involved are not currently allocated by region or state, but rather go to legal immigrants who have advanced degrees or show exceptional ability in certain fields.
Under the governor's unique proposal, one-quarter of the nation's 40,000 annual EB-2 visas would be designated for such immigrants willing to live and work for five years in Detroit -- a city amid the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history whose neighborhoods have been hollowed out by a long population decline.
"Let's send a message to the entire world: Detroit, Michigan, is open to the world," Snyder said during his news conference, which came a day after he backed plans to commit as much as $350 million in state funds to help shore up Detroit pension funds and prevent the sale of valuable city-owned art.
Under the plan, according to the AP, "Detroit would be allocated 5,000 visas in the first year, 10,000 each of the next three years and 15,000 in the fifth year."
On her radio show, Ingraham criticized the plan, asking, if immigrants move into the city, "is there going to be finally a border enforced in our country? Except it's going to be around Detroit?" From the show:
INGRAHAM: The people of this country, they're smart enough to know that they don't want to go anywhere near Detroit. Right? But we need to get these people from other countries to live and work in Detroit to save us because we can then wall off Detroit, apparently, so they can't then move to other parts of the country. Is that what Rick Snyder is gonna do? Is there gonna be, you know, is there gonna be finally a border enforced in our country? Except it's going to be around Detroit. This is the craziest thing I've ever heard of.
As of this month, Michigan's unemployment rate is higher than the national average at 8.4 percent. Its population has fallen from 1.8 million in the 1950s to 700,000 residents today. Michigan is reportedly "the one state in the nation to see its population drop" from 2000 to 2010.
A 2013 study on Detroit's immigrant population found that "[f]ar from being a drag on the local economy, the region's foreign-born residents have been a source of economic prosperity and are statistically more affluent and prosperous than native-born residents in the region." From the Global Detroit study:
Metropolitan Detroit's foreign-born have an average income of $61,582 for males and $41,271 for females. Figure 2 shows the breakdown of what immigrants take home each year on an individual basis, compared to that of the native-born. While over a third of immigrants make over $75,000 per year, the majority make under $50,000, with a small percentage making less than $10,000 per year. The native-born trend higher in the middle-income categories, between $25,000 and $75,000, and lower at the extremes.
While Snyder's plan is unusual, it is not wholly uncommon. A number of struggling Midwestern cities in the past few years -- including Chicago, St. Louis, and Dayton -- have adopted "immigrant friendly" policies to attract enterprising immigrants.
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