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"Breakfast of Nations" Highlights Benefits Of Immigration

PHOTO: Immigrants now make up 6 percent of Michigan's population and account for growing shares of the economy and electorate. Photo credit: Mona Shand
PHOTO: Immigrants now make up 6 percent of Michigan's population and account for growing shares of the economy and electorate. Photo credit: Mona Shand
October 10, 2013

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. – A coalition of ethnic, civic and business groups says that if Michigan's leaders really want to spur population and job growth, they need to look to the state's immigration policies and programs.

The importance of creating an immigrant-friendly environment was on the menu when business and community leaders from across southeastern Michigan sat down recently for the first-ever Breakfast of Nations at Macomb Community College Center Campus.

Christine Sauve, communities coordinator for Welcoming Michigan, says it just makes economic sense for a state that is struggling to reinvent itself to open its arms to immigrants.

"Not only are we helping bring up our population,” she says, “but also foreign-born residents have been shown to start businesses and then those businesses hire U.S.-born residents."

Michigan was the only state to lose population in the last census.

Sauve says the goal of the Breakfast of Nations, which the group hopes to replicate in other Michigan communities, was to share stories and research that illustrate that contrary to what some may believe, when immigrants come to this country they make jobs, they don't take jobs.

"The statistic across the country nationally is that foreign-born residents are two times more likely to start a business,” she points out. “In Michigan, that number is actually three times more likely. "

A recent study by the group Global Detroit finds that Michigan's foreign-born residents outrank the native-born population in several categories, including college degrees, home ownership, income and employment.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI