State immigrant growth outpaces nation

By David Eggert
Associated Press

LANSING (AP) - Michigan's immigrant population grew by roughly 10 percent between 2010 and 2014, helping to mitigate the state's population loss and the effects of the Great Recession, according to a new report released Wednesday by a pro-immigration reform group and promoted by Gov. Rick Snyder.

The influx of nearly 60,000 foreign-born residents during that period, a 10.2 percent increase, outpaced the national average of 5.8 percent. Nearly 642,000, or 7 percent, of Michigan residents are foreign-born. The U.S. rate is 13 percent.

The report was done by the Partnership for a New American Economy, which supports immigration reform, and touted by the Michigan Office for New Americans.

Snyder, a Republican who has embraced immigration reform and frequently touts immigrants' entrepreneurship, said immigration is a proven driver of job creation and economic growth in the state.

"As a welcoming state, we know and value the cultural diversity, professional contributions and entrepreneurial skills offered by foreign-born residents," he said in a statement. "We look forward to working with our federal partners toward making immigration reform a reality to create more jobs for families and enhance the quality of life across Michigan."

The report, which cites a lack of employer visas, pushes for legal status for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally at a time that GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump delivers an anti-illegal immigration message and calls for tougher screening of immigrants from any country compromised by terrorism. The Detroit area has one of the largest Middle Eastern populations in the country.

Foreign-born workers account for 8.3 percent of Michigan's entrepreneurs despite making up 6.5 percent of the population, according to the report. Six of the Fortune 500 firms based in Michigan had at least one immigrant founder or a founder who was the child of immigrants.

Because immigrants tend to be of working age, they are more likely to work than native-born residents. They make up a significant percentage of the state's agricultural workers, mechanical engineers, software developers, postsecondary teachers and physicians and surgeons.

About half, or 51 percent, of immigrants in Michigan were U.S. citizens in 2014 - 4 percentage points higher than the national figure. An estimated 126,000 are here without permission.

Bing Goei, director of the Office of New Americans, said the report validates immigrants' "contributions toward strengthening our economy, building our workforce, creating jobs, increasing our competitiveness globally and revitalizing our communities."

The pro-immigration group said most of its data came from several publicly available sources, primarily the American Community Survey, which is conducted by the Census Bureau.



Michigan immigration report:

Published: Fri, Aug 05, 2016