Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Republican, supports amnesty for 3 million illegal aliens, claiming that it is good for business and for government revenue. On Sunday, he wrote in the Detroit Free Press, in reference to the millions of illegal aliens brought to the country as minors -- the so-called “Dreamers” encompassed by Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy -- that: “Dreamers are, and continue to be, drivers of economic growth. They are lawyers, teachers, students, entrepreneurs and small-business owners who help grow our economy in their own way. In fact, 5% of all Dreamers and 8% of Dreamers over the age of 25 have started a business, outpacing the American average of 3.1%.”

Snyder, who was once served as CEO of Gateway Inc, added, “It is clear that in Michigan, and in our nation, the economic benefits of passing the Dream Act significantly outweigh the overwhelming cost of deportation. That is why we should pass the Dream Act and ensure dreamers are able to remain here as productive members of our communities.”

Back in 2014, he asked Obama for special visas to encourage 50,000 highly skilled immigrants to migrate to Detroit over the course of five years, in an effort to stimulate economic growth in the crumbling city. The recipients of the visas were to remain in Detroit for a prescribed period of time. When he announced the idea, Snyder asked a receptive audience in Detroit, “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 asked his listeners to “think about how dumb our current system is for immigration in this country.”

“When I talk about dumb, the dumbest of the dumb is the part we’re focused in on,” Snyder explains on Michigan’s official website. “Currently, we have thousands and thousands of foreign nationals coming to get advanced degrees in our universities. In Michigan, it’s about over 1,800 Ph.D. and master’s students a year in STEM [that graduate] … and many of these kids, when they’re done, we just tell them to get out. That’s just plain dumb, because shouldn’t we want to keep them here after we’ve given them a world-class education?”

Detroit has lost more than 1 million residents since 1950, as well as a significant portion of its industry, and is coping with bankruptcy and over 80,000 abandoned buildings and a revenue crisis. 

Some conservatives have howled at the idea. “It is beyond belief that Snyder asked how dumb it is to not give work visas to 50,000 foreign citizens when tens of millions of American workers have lost their jobs and their careers and have given up looking for work,” conservative blogger Michael Cutler, a former Immigration and Naturalization Service agent, wrote in May. “What is truly dumb, and in fact duplicitous, is Snyder's idea that the solution to high unemployment … is to import foreign workers and provide them with opportunities while blithely ignoring his fellow Americans who did perhaps demonstrate that they were dumb by voting for him in the first place.”

High-tech pushes for DACA

Business groups, such as the FWD.us, welcome the idea. Created by tech investors, FWD.us is seeking to bring in more foreigners to compete with American college grads. Among the personalities involved are Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Bill Gates of Microsoft. It is among the business groups calling on Republicans to approve amnesty for the “Dreamers” without the safeguards requested by President Trump. Snyder mentioned in his op-ed that he is part of the “Dream Coalition” that was founded by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs, who counts on allies such as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who is one of the chief amnesty proponents.

Writing at her website, Powell Jobs wrote that legal and illegal immigrants are “among our greatest assets.” Powell Jobs wrote, “To hurt these children is to hurt ourselves, our society as a whole. The abolition of DACA represents a betrayal of both our values and our interests. We should be ashamed of what the administration has done. It is now up to Congress to correct this indecent mistake by passing the bipartisan DREAM Act. Is our common humanity so frayed in this country that we cannot agree even about the children?”

According to the American Immigration Council, legal and illegal immigrants amount to about 7.7 percent of Michigan’s workforce. Few are illegal but a greater proportion are skilled workers when compared to the illegal and legal immigrant populations in California and Texas. They comprise about 10 percent of Michigan’s manufacturing and professional services sector. While they expand business revenues, they simultaneously shrink pressure for higher wages.

According to the council, illegal immigrants in Michigan paid an estimated $86.7 million in state and local taxes in 2014. DACA beneficiaries in the state paid an estimated $15.9 million in state and local taxes in 2016. While Michigan residents in immigrant-led households had $14.2 billion in after-tax income in 2014, a majority of that income is in the form of federal transfers and aid. A report by the Center for Immigration Studies in 2015 showed that in 2012, 51 percent of households headed by an immigrant (legal or illegal) reported that they used at least one welfare program, as compared to 30 percent of native-led households. This includes Medicaid, cash, food, and housing programs.

Immigrants impose a "tax" on Americans

Moreover, the National Academies of Science estimated that immigrants impose a 5.2 percent ‘tax’ on Americans wages via increased competition for employment. Immigration policy has reduced investment and job creation in many interior states such as Michigan because investors know that migrants prefer to move to coastal cities. For example, almost 58 percent of zip codes in Michigan had fewer jobs or businesses in 2015 than in 2000, according to a new report by the Economic Innovation Group. Roughly 19 percent of people in Michigan live in those distressed areas.

While immigrants holding university degrees may pay more in taxes than what they receive in federal benefits, immigrants without degrees do not make up in revenue what they receive in federal benefits. In 2016, the National Academies of Science noted that immigrants cost taxpayers in states and local jurisdictions $57.4 billion each year.

Of the 690,000 “DACA” recipients, only four percent of them hold a college degree, compared to the 17 percent of Americans of similar age, according to the Migration Policy Institute. 

In October, unemployment in Michigan was measured at 4.5 percent, while the national rate was 4.1 percent. 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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