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Study: US Immigration Policies Will Hurt Michigan’s Economy

2017-10-11

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  • Around the year 2000, a Bangladeshi immigrant named Shaker Sadeak left New York City.
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  • Sadeak moved west to the American state of Michigan.
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  • He told VOA that Michigan gave him the chance to hold a job while going to school.
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  • In 2007, he opened his own retail store in Hamtramck, Michigan -- a town with many immigrants from Bangladesh.
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  • The store, specializing in cloth, is next to Bengali restaurants and food stores.
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  • His business has grown over the years.
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  • This past summer, new and established stores were replacing empty spaces along Conant Street, the main commercial street in Hamtramck.
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  • Sadeak told VOA “Back in 2000, you used to see one car in two minutes.
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  • Now we have thousands of cars driving on the streets.
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  • All the immigrants came into this town and rebuilt the whole thing,” he said.
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  • In old industrial areas across the United States, immigration is the basis for economic growth, says Steve Tobocman, Executive Director of Global Detroit.
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  • His nonprofit group works to bring international investment and business to southeast Michigan.
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  • Tobocman told VOA that the immigration issues are real and important to the community.
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  • “They have a real impact on family budgets, and jobs, and incomes,” he said.
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  • New research shows that after the 2008 Great Recession, a growth in Detroit’s immigrant population helped to fight population decline and energize the economy.
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  • Global Detroit reported the findings.
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  • Tobocman said that since the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency, anti-immigrant language and policies have been costly for Michigan.
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  • “We have done some damage to America’s brand as the world’s most welcoming economy, most innovative economy, and a place where anybody can come and contribute to our growth and prosperity and live the American Dream,” he said.
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  • Trump’s top advisor for policy, Stephen Miller, told reporters in August that the president’s policies will prevent an increase in low-wage labor and protect American workers.
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  • Miller believes that unskilled immigrants hurt the economy, and are partly to blame for unemployment in the country.
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  • The U.S. Labor Department reported in early September that the jobless rate was 4.4 percent.
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  • Comparing Michigan with nine other industrial states, Global Detroit estimated the economic loss that resulted from decreases in international travel and international students.
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  • The study also considered effects from Trump’s cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and losses in agricultural production.
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  • The group predicted a combined $1.157 billion in yearly losses in statewide economic activity.
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  • It estimated $418 million of that amount coming from the announced cancellation of DACA.
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  • About $261 million in losses were tied to an estimated 16 percent drop in foreign visitors to the United States.
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  • In areas of the U.S. where population is falling, immigrants are “part of what is keeping those communities vibrant and growing,” says Kim Rueben, a Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute.
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  • Rueben was a member of the National Academy of Sciences panel that wrote a report on the effect of immigration on American workers and economic growth.
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  • The group reported its findings in 2016.
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  • Rueben noted that there are costs to state and local governments, such as educating the children of immigrants.
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  • But, she said, those same children become adults who “end up paying the most in taxes and using the least in services.”
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  • Any decision to cut immigration numbers and the overturning of DACA will hurt the economy, Reuben said.
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  • She noted that the children of lower-wage, first generation immigrants have shown an ability to exceed education level expectations.
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  • A recent opinion study found that 38 percent of voting Americans approve of President Trump’s immigration policies, while 59 percent disapprove.
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  • The Quinnipiac University poll was released last month.
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  • I’m Bryan Lynn. And I'm Alice Bryant.
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