Can 50,000 ‘exceptional’ immigrants save Detroit?

Reaction was swift — and somewhat predictable — to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s proposal to give 50,000 special visas over the next five
years to lure highly skilled immigrants to live and work in Detroit.

Snyder was joined by the mayor of Detroit and representatives of several companies headquartered in the bankrupt city. Unemployment in the city is about 17 percent and the key to Snyder’s proposal is the word skilled, suggesting that the people who live in the city now aren’t, and the people in the country who are, aren’t interested in moving to Detroit.

“Where else in the U.S. could you find a house or a lot for the prices you’re going to find here? It’s a good deal,” Snyder said.

The idea will need the support of the Obama administration. Snyder will fly to Washington tomorrow. There’s no precedent for giving the EB-2 visas — visas for people with exceptional skills — on a geographic basis.

But Snyder also faces pushback from those still living in the city, who might well feel pushed aside for the newcomers.

“Better Idea — lets train, invest in and hire the Detroit and Michigan needy American Citizen Residents that are already here,” one commenter at the Detroit Free Press website said. “Why can’t we do that — we don’t need anymore giveaways to immigrants. Let’s take care of Americans first!!”

Snyder had an answer to that, even before it was asked. Because the government doesn’t want to spend that kind of money.

“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?” he said at the news conference.

(h/t: Sara Meyer)

  • PinguinoRoja

    Skilled workers are a great asset to have; but lets be honest, how much money do they actually bring into the city that wasn’t already there? I’m talking about revenue vs deficit.. what net worth do they bring into Detroit? How much are they worth if there are no jobs?

    I’ve thought about this long and hard.. If you really want to save Detroit… then turn it into a baccarat gaming hub marketed towards the Chinese. With the infrastructure that Detroit already has, there is no other way to bring a substantial amount of money INTO the city that would even make a dent into the problems they are facing.

    For those of you out-of-the-loop when it comes to gambling, over 98% of the gaming revenue in Macau, China is pulled in through baccarat alone (that means roulette, blackjack, craps, etc all combined only make up for about 2% in Macau).. It is the most popular and the most profitable game for casinos in Macau pulling in over $45billion in revenue last year.. and if you look at Vegas, it is not only the most profitable game, but it is the fastest growing game as well, largely due to the Chinese businessmen that come in from overseas. In November 2013, it accounted for over 42% of the gaming revenue on the strip (which is $129million in one month). This is a money maker for casinos everywhere.. and people love to play it.

    I wish I was the guy holding the bank right now… I would go all in on the idea that baccarat actually could save Detroit . The infrastructure is there: MGM, Greektown, and MotorCIty casinos are all already up and running.. the ability to pull in players from out Vegas is there (MGM and M-life resorts can easily make available more player comps to Detroit)… the only thing is that no one wants to play in Detroit because they don’t cater to high-rollers, particularl y in baccarat. It all comes down to rebranding and marketing the city with the assets that they have. This would bring in taxable revenues and tourism, create jobs, money would be brought INTO Detroit from the outside, and you could actually use some those 50k ‘exceptional’ immigrants by finally being able to give them a job.