US immigration policies will hurt Michigan’s economy


Around 2000, a Bangladeshi immigrant named Shaker Sadeak left New York.

Sadeak moved west to the US state of Michigan. He told VOA that Michigan gave him the chance to get a job while going to school.

In 2007, he opened his own retail store in Hamtramck, Michigan – a city with many immigrants from Bangladesh. The fabric store is adjacent to Bengali restaurants and food stores. His business has grown over the years.

Last summer, new and established stores replaced empty spaces along Conant Street, the main commercial street in Hamtramck.

The town of Hamtramck, Michigan, surrounded by Detroit, is home to many immigrant neighborhoods, including Banglatown.

Sadeak told VOA: “In 2000 you used to see a car in two minutes. Now thousands of cars are driving the streets. All the immigrants came to this city and rebuilt everything, ”he said.

In the former industrial zones of the United States, immigration is the basis of economic growth, says Steve Tobocman, executive director of Global Detroit. His nonprofit group works to attract international investment and business to Southeast Michigan.

Tobocman told VOA that immigration issues are real and important to the community.

“They have a real impact on family budgets, jobs, and income,” he said.

Employees look after customers at Aladdin Sweets & Cafe in Banglatown, Hamtramck, Michigan.

Employees look after customers at Aladdin Sweets & Cafe in Banglatown, Hamtramck, Michigan.

Too bad for the American brand

New research shows that after the Great Recession of 2008, a growth in Detroit’s immigrant population helped fight the population decline and boost the economy. Global Detroit reported the results.

Tobocman has said that since Donald Trump’s presidency began, anti-immigrant language and policies have cost Michigan dearly.

“We have damaged the image of America as the world’s most welcoming economy, the most innovative economy, and a place where everyone can come and contribute to our growth and prosperity and live the American dream, ”he said.

Trump’s top political adviser Stephen Miller told reporters in August that the president’s policies would prevent an increase in low-paid work and protect American workers.

Miller believes that unskilled immigrants hurt the economy and are partly responsible for unemployment in the country.

The US Department of Labor reported in early September that the unemployment rate was 4.4 percent.

Staff at the immigrant-owned restaurant Taquería Mi Pueblo prepare food in Detroit's Mexicantown neighborhood.

Staff at the immigrant-owned restaurant Taquería Mi Pueblo prepare food in Detroit’s Mexicantown neighborhood.

Comparing Michigan to nine other industrial states, Global Detroit estimated the economic loss resulting from the decline in international travel and international students. The study also took into account the effects of Trump’s cancellation of the Deferred Action Program for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and losses in agricultural production.

The group predicted combined annual losses of $ 1.157 billion in economic activity statewide. He estimated that $ 418 million of that amount came from the announced cancellation of DACA.

About $ 261 million in losses were linked to an estimated 16% drop in the number of foreign visitors to the United States.

Weigh the costs and benefits

In areas of the United States where the population is shrinking, immigrants are “part of what keeps these communities together.” vibrant and grow, ”says Kim Rueben, Senior Fellow at the Urban Institute.

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. The group reported its findings in 2016.

Rueben noted that there are costs to state and local governments, such as educating the children of immigrants. But, she said, those same children grow into adults who “end up paying the most taxes and using the fewest services.”

Any move to reduce the number of immigrants and overthrow the DACA will hurt the economy, Reuben said.

She noted that the children of low-wage first-generation immigrants have shown an ability to to go past education level expectations.

A recent opinion poll found that 38% of voting Americans approve of President Trump’s immigration policies, while 59% disapprove of them. The Quinnipiac University survey was released last month.

I am Bryan Lynn. And I am Alice Bryant.

Ramon Taylor reported this story to VOANews.com. Susan Shand adapted her report for Learn English. George Grow was the editor.

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Words in this story

retail nm the business of selling things directly to customers

Income – not. a gain, usually measured in terms of money

commercial – adj. related to the buying and selling of goods and services

retail – adj. sell products directly to buyers for their own use

decline v. become less important or fewer

innovativeadj. introduce or use new ideas or methods

prosperity nm be successful usually by earning a lot of money

vibrant adj. have or show great life, activity and energy

to go past – v. be greater than