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Governor of Michigan proposes using visa program to help Detroit

The city of Detroit made headlines across the country and around the world this past summer when it filed the single largest municipal bankruptcy in the history of the U.S. in an attempt to tackle over $18 billion in debt and associated liabilities.

Interestingly, the Motor City is once again making both national and international headlines. However, this time the reason isn't bankruptcy-related but rather immigration-related.

At a press conference held just a few weeks ago, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced an ambitious new proposal that he planned to submit to federal officials in the near future: Bringing 50,000 immigrants to Detroit over the course of five years as a means of increasing the city's falling population (which has fallen by over a million people since the 1950s), and revitalizing its long-floundering economy.

According to Snyder, the proposal would take advantage of the EB-2 visa program, which authorizes federal officials to grant up to 40,040 of these employment-based visas to professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability every year.

In the first year of the proposal, 5,000 immigrants would be granted EB-2 visas to both live and work in Detroit. The number of EB-2 visas issued to immigrants with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities would increase every year thereafter, culminating with 15,000 by year five.

"Think about the power and the size of this program, what it could do to bring back Detroit, even faster and better," said Snyder.

While advocates of the proposal -- including the mayor and multiple city leaders -- argue that it will create jobs, stabilize neighborhoods and generate new tax revenue, opponents argue that it will divert attention away from the problems currently plaguing Detroit, including high unemployment and poverty levels.

Federal officials, including the White House, have yet to offer any comment on Snyder's proposal. It should be very interesting to see what transpires ...

Source: The New York Times, "Immigrants seen as way to refill Detroit ranks," Monica Davey, Jan. 23, 2014

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