The Economic Costs of Trump Immigration Policies

Last week, Global Detroit joined with the Michigan Economic Center in releasing Michigan: We Are All Migrants Here, one of the first reports in America to analyze the local economic costs of the Trump Administration’s immigration policies and how they impact Michigan.

Immigration has dominated local and national news of late. The so-called “Muslim” travel ban, deporting Iraqi Christians who may face intense ethnic violence, and aggressive enforcement actions against DREAMers—these are headline-grabbing issues and unfortunate value statements about what Americans aspire to be as a nation – presenting an America in fear and disengaging from the world.

But what has been undeniably missing from the headlines is an analysis and discussion of the negative economic impacts provoked by Trump’s immigration policies. Thanks to our friends at the Michigan Economic Center, Global Detroit has the opportunity to help shape the debate and outline how Trump’s policies threaten Michigan’s economic recovery. Travel bans, immigration raids, walking back immigrant visa policies, all work together to freeze and ultimately reverse the flow of new people, new ideas, new entrepreneurial energy, and new global connections that have been Michigan’s economic lifeblood in recent years.

Specifically, Trump’s anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric have:

  1. Slowed the only source of population growth in Michigan. Immigrants are responsible for all of Michigan’s population growth over the last 15 years and have countered continued population loss in Detroit. The Trump Administration’s restriction of refugees alone threatens to cost the state some 5,000 new residents per year;
  2. Threatened to decrease the numbers international students at Michigan colleges and universities and the economic activity, innovation, and talent they bring. International students contribute to about 75% of the patents filed from our state’s top research universities and the 32,000 international students contribute more than $1 billion annually in economic activity. A 10% loss in international students would cost the state’s economy over $100 million and 1,350 jobs;
  3. Curtailed international tourism and the international visitors who visit Detroit, The Henry Ford and other regional cultural institutions, as well as our state’s natural beauty embodied in Pure Michigan. International visitors make up more than 6% of the state’s $23 billion tourism industry. National estimates suggest international visitors to the U.S. have decreased 16%. This translates to an annual loss of $220 million in spending.
  4. Deprive vital Michigan industries a critical supply of talent they need to compete. Not only are immigrant workers critical to the technical and STEM employment needs of the automotive design, mobility, health care, IT, computer software, and manufacturing industries in Michigan, but immigrant workers are the lifeblood of Michigan agriculture, tourism, and hospitality industries as well. While only 6.5% of the state population, immigrant workers comprise about 25% of the workforce in these critical positions.

The report was well received with media coverage in Crain’s Detroit Business, DBusiness, The Detroit News, and Michigan Public Radio. You can read the report here.

Since March 1, Global Detroit has been leading a Champions for Growth campaign to raise the voice of business and community leaders in the nation’s immigration debates. Over 250 pledge signers have signed the Champions for Growth pledge acknowledging immigration’s contributions to our economic prosperity, pledging their support for a robust national immigration system, and  vowing to work locally to better integrate immigrants into the local economy to foster regional growth and prosperity.

The Michigan: We Are All Migrants Here report follows a summit Global Detroit hosted at the Detroit Regional Chamber in April on the importance of immigration to our economy. Look for more research, reports, media, and engagement opportunities to come.


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