Mar 9, 2011

Racist show-me-your-papers’ law is bad for Michigan’s economy

You had to know this was coming with the crazy bills being introduced by Republicans all over the country, and an extremist rightwing Republican here in Michigan is set to introduce a racist show-me-your-papers’ law like they did in Arizona last year.

State Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, is apparently concerned about the huge illegal immigration problem here in Michigan, and this despite the fact that the Republicans are planning to cut revenue sharing to local governments, meaning they will be laying off more police officers, they get to take on a job of the federal government. Apparently, we are simply overrun with Canadians coming from across the border.

The law gives “local police officers authority to investigate, detain and arrest people for perceived immigration violations without the benefit of proper training, exacerbating the problem of racial profiling and raising concerns about the prolonged detention of citizens and legal residents,” according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). One main reason for the law in Arizona was voter about voter suppression, and Arizona has a history of minority voter suppression.

It’s unclear what Agema’s motivation is, other than to gain favor with the rightwing base, but what it will do is discourage job growth and burden police departments.

The Michigan League for Human Services (MLHS) just released a report that says immigration is good for the economy and discriminatory bills like Agema’s hurt job growth.

Many immigrants are job creators. Immigrants are responsible for 33 percent of all high-tech startups, making Michigan third among all states in producing new high-tech business opportunities, according to the MLHS. In fact, in 2006, 22 percent of the international patent applications from Michigan listed a foreign-born resident as one of their key inventors, ranking Michigan 8th in the nation.

Because of that job creation, the purchasing power of immigrants is also on the rise. In 2009, the purchasing power of Michigan Asians and Latinos combined, totaled $17.5 billion, an increase of over 300 percent by each population since 1990.

The Republicans budget has huge cuts to higher education, even though experts agree that education is the key to Michigan’s recovery. During the 2008-2009 year, foreign students contributed $592 million to the local economy in tuition, fees, and living expenses. Forty four percent of all engineering master’s degrees and 62 percent of engineering doctorates are awarded to foreign-born students in the state.

Michigan’s economy could be negatively impacted by the passage of Agema’s Arizona-style immigration bill. Why live in a state where you could be pulled over for driving while brown?

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