From the Director: Administrative Relief on Immigration Toward a More Global Detroit

By Steve Tobocman

Two weeks ago, President Obama announced the most sweeping changes in federal immigration policy in some three decades. Unfortunately the realities of these policy issues have been swept aside in most of the mass media reporting on the issue, eschewing understanding how the actions will impact our local communities in favor of highlighting the back-and-forth political drama between the President and the Congress. And while some reporters deserve credit for highlighting the personal stories of how families and aspiring Americans are impacted (or not) by Administrative Relief, few, if any, have delved into the economic policy impacts—the realm upon which Global Detroit was launched.

President Obama’s Administrative Relief seeks to accomplish many of the same objectives of comprehensive immigration reform and the bipartisan bill (SB 744) that passed the U.S. Senate in July 2013. Unfortunately, the President does not have the authority to implement many, if not most, of the provisions incorporated in the Senate Bill, but his actions seek to utilize the executive powers under existing law to move the nation’s immigration policy closer to the goals embodied in that bill.

Most Americans are concerned about how immigration impacts their local economies, government tax revenues and expenses, and their personal income. Global Detroit was conceived to identify those impacts and to take advantage of opportunities that will help our region benefit from immigration.

We believe that to understand the impacts of Administrative Relief proposed by President Obama it is important to understand the impacts of comprehensive immigration reform sought by the bipartisan Senate Bill. The nonprofit, non-partisan American Immigration Council has posted a summary of research suggesting that comprehensive immigration reform would:

  • ImmigrationReformWouldIncrease the earning power of newly-legalized workers and, in just the first three years translate into an increase in net personal income of $30 to $36 billion, which would generate $4.5 to $5.4 billion in additional net tax revenue. Moreover, an increase in personal income of this scale would generate consumer spending sufficient to support 750,000 to 900,000 jobs.
  • Raise the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), thereby growing GDP per capita by over $1,500, and reduce the cumulative federal deficit by over $2.5 trillion over 10 years.
  • Generate a conservatively estimated combined economic benefit of approximately $329 billion over the next 20 years, leading to 1.4 million new jobs and at least an additional $10.2 billion in tax revenue from passage of the DREAM Act portions of such reform alone.

Of course, Obama’s Administrative Relief cannot claim these benefits as it is limited by the scope of his authority to deferring action against some 5 million undocumented immigrants and some small, but important (and yet to be fully detailed), changes that will affect international students, skilled immigrant workers, and immigrant entrepreneurs.

Despite all political back-and-forth, almost everyone can agree that current federal immigration policy (both before and after Obama’s actions) is broken and that Congressional action is the only way to developing long-term, sensible policy reforms.

We are eager to provide you with additional details about these issues and to support the region’s leading organizations that will play a pivotal role in implementing the Administrative Relief, including immigrant social services, immigrant legal services, local governments, and immigrant rights organizations.

Just yesterday (Monday, December 1, 2014), 25 leading mayors announced a national coalition of mayors (Cities United for Immigrant Action) working together to ensure the successful implementation of the president’s immigration reform plan. One goal of the coalition is to send a message that immigrants are welcome in, and a crucial part of, the cities represented and the nation as a whole.

Michigan is the leading state in this coalition with 8 of the 25 mayors, including Mayor Mike Duggan in Detroit, Karen Majewski of Hamtramck, Virgil Bernero of Lansing, Nathan Triplett of East Lansing, Dayne Walling of Flint, Kurt R. Metzger of Pleasant Ridge, Marian McClellan of Oak Park, and Bobby Hopewell of Kalamazoo.

“The president’s action on immigration will strengthen our cities. It will keep families together, grow our economies and foster additional community trust in law enforcement,” the mayors said in a statement. “We are ready — and together we’re rolling up our sleeves to turn this policy into a better reality for millions of hardworking people in the communities we serve.”


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