Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder speaks at the IDEAL Group Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014 in Detroit. Snyder announced a plan to ask the Obama administration to set aside thousands of work visas to entice talented immigrants to live and work in bankrupt Detroit. The Republican governor said he is seeking 50,000 work visas solely for the city over five years. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
DETROIT (AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder asked the federal government Thursday to set aside thousands of work visas for bankrupt Detroit, a bid to revive the decaying city by attracting talented immigrants who are willing to move there and stay for five years.
The Republican governor has routinely touted immigration as a powerful potential force for growing Detroit’s economy, saying immigrant entrepreneurs start many small businesses and file patents at twice the rate of U.S.-born citizens.
“Let’s send a message to the entire world: Detroit, Michigan, is open to the world,” Snyder said at a news conference.
The proposal involves EB-2 visas, which are offered every year to legal immigrants who have advanced degrees or show exceptional ability in certain fields.
But the governor’s ambitious plan faces significant hurdles: The visas are not currently allocated by region or state. And the number he is seeking — 50,000 over five years — would be a quarter of the total EB-2 visas offered.
The program would require no federal financial bailout, the governor said, only the easing of immigration rules and visa limits to help fill jobs in automotive engineering, information technology, health care and life sciences.