Help Wanted in Michigan: Immigrants Need Apply

2/23/11

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officials think they’ll be able to take advantage of laws already in place to create opportunities for expedited citizenship or green cards.

“We don’t think that any additional legislation would be needed state wise,” she said.

Snyder faces an uphill climb. Anti-immigration sentiment remains high across the country. Last year, Congress rejected the Dream Act, a bill championed by President Obama that would eventually grant citizenship to undocumented students.

Despite pleas from Silicon Valley, Congress has refused to significantly raise the limit of H1-B work visas the United States grants each year to foreign workers with special skills. Last month, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service said it will no longer accept H-1B applications because the country will soon hit the 65,000 visa cap for fiscal year 2011.

Randal Charlton, executive director at Techtown in Detroit and a foreign-born entrepreneur, praised Snyder’s efforts.

But, “I think it’s a national issue and he can’t do it alone and he has to have the support of the federal government,” he says.

“Where we’ve got outstandingly talented individuals that we train at our universities we should encourage them to apply for citizenship so they can set up their businesses here and not go back to China and India and set them up there,” Charlton added.

Snyder spokeswoman Wurfel says more foreign-born entrepreneurs will spur the state’s much needed economic recovery. Foreign nationals in Michigan are three times as likely to start a new business compared to U.S.-born citizens, according to a Global Detroit Study.

“I think there’s some pretty strong evidence that shows that a lot of the startups have foreign nationals as founders and that can be real opportunity for the reinvention that the governor talks about a lot to help create Michigan as a place of opportunity,” Wurfel says.

Jillian Berman is an intern for Xconomy Detroit. Follow @

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  • JimB

    Once again the term immigrants is used.

    Legal immigrants are welcome.

  • JimB

    Once again the term immigrants is used.

    Legal immigrants are welcome.

    Illegal immigrants have NOTHING coming from the taxpayers of this country. Their only RIGHTS should be a 1 way bus ticket back to where they come from.

  • Mgg

    JimB – are you a Native American? If not, you are an immigrant or the descendant of one. But you’re missing the point. These hIghly educated (and motivated) graduates aren’t asking us for anything. They’re leaving with knowledge, skills and work ethic we could use. That’s why it benefits us to establish a pathway for their LEGAL residence in.the U.S.