Examining immigration as a tool of economic development

Gov. Rick Snyder and Michigan Congressman Gary Peters were among those scheduled to speak today at a University of Detroit Mercy Law Review symposium entitled “Global Michigan:  Immigration and Economic Growth.”

Organizers say leading policymakers and distinguished academics from across the U.S. and Canada were scheduled to serve as panelists at the all-day event at the Detroit Athletic Club.

“The timing of the symposium could not be better,” said David Koelsch, Associate Professor and Director of UDM’s Immigration Law Clinic.  “Policymakers at the national level are debating the biggest overhaul of the immigration system in two generations, Michigan’s governor is recognized as a visionary in this area and the pending appointment of an emergency manager in Detroit may allow bold, local initiatives to welcome immigrants to thrive.”

He said the symposium would focus on immigration as a tool of economic development.

What is often lost in the heated debates over border security and what to do with undocumented immigrants, according to event organizers, is the reality that immigration, if properly channeled, can significantly enhance the economic well-being of metropolitan areas, states and regions.

This symposium, they said, would focus on exactly how immigration can best accomplish that goal.

Panel discussions were to focus on:

• Local Approaches to Immigration:  Rolling Out the Welcome Mat

• High-Skilled and Low-Skilled Immigrants: Can Both Be Valued and Promoted?

• The “Friendly” Border: Economic and Human Rights Issues on the Canada-U.S. Border

Panelists represent such organizations as the American Immigration Council, Brookings Institution, Economic Policy Institute, United Auto Workers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Consul General of Canada.
“Michigan is poised to take full advantage of the economic benefits of immigration,” said Koelsch. “Our universities attract the best and brightest international students, Michigan is home to dozens of large multinational corporations with global workforces, and Michigan offers a quality of life and affordability that is very attractive to foreign nationals.”