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Detroit Wants Its Own High-Tech Visa 398

Posted by samzenpus
from the fixing-the-D dept.
dcblogs writes "Detroit, a city in bankruptcy and dealing with a shrinking population, hopes to turn itself around with the help of 50,000 employment-based green cards. In exchange for the visa, an immigrant would be required to 'live and work' in Detroit for an undetermined length of time. The visas would be made available under the EB-2 visa category, a visa for advanced degree professionals or those deemed with 'exceptional ability' in the sciences, arts and business. The proposal was made by Michigan's governor, Rick Snyder. Daniel Costa, an immigration policy analyst at Economic Policy Institute, said Snyder would have more credibility on the issue if he were doing more to help workers in Detroit. In 2011, the state cut jobless benefits by six weeks to 20. 'I also think the federal government should be offering people in the U.S. some money and land in Detroit if they'll move there,' said Costa, or 'just offer it to people across the country who have advanced degrees.'"
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Detroit Wants Its Own High-Tech Visa

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  • by Shoten (260439) on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:24AM (#46080645)

    ...a familiar lifestyle for people from third-world countries with high crime, corrupt cops and crumbling infrastructure.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:30AM (#46080697)

      The city has been terribly managed for decades. I'm not sure what ground Costa has on criticizing Governor Snyder here though.. the city was given years to clean up its act and didn't really do anything of note, so he only recently stepped in to get the city managed by competent people using Michigan's "emergency manager" laws. They city needs a rapid rise in tax base or a bailout.. since Americans aren't exactly flocking to Detroit (even though property is cheap and employment is available if you have skill) and bail out money isn't to be had, pleading for immigrant help isn't exactly off base. It's not even Snyder's original idea, this has been floated for awhile now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Z00L00K (682162)

        And nothing that Detroit has to offer except being close to Canada would appeal to me, and that's just not enough. Doesn't matter what they pay me or what conditions that are offered, it's probably safer to go to Afghanistan anyway.

        • by sjbe (173966) on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:55PM (#46082519)

          And nothing that Detroit has to offer except being close to Canada would appeal to me, and that's just not enough.

          I'm pretty sure you've never actually spent any time in Detroit or you'd realize what you just said is very ignorant. Yes Detroit has its problems but it's hardly the hell hole it is made out to be. There are excellent employers, plenty of entertainment within easy reach, great restaurants, and more. Plus you have easy access to the Great Lakes, Michigan and Canada which are all amazing. I could easily see myself living in downtown Detroit under the right circumstances. I live not far from Detroit as it is and I go downtown regularly. Like any big city it has its nicer areas and other areas you probably should steer away from. People go downtown all the time for sporting events (Lions, Tigers and Red Wings), cultural events (DIA), casinos, restaurants and more.

      • by penglust (676005) on Monday January 27, 2014 @12:49PM (#46082409)
        So instead of using those powers to fix the issues preventing American workers from considering moving to Detroit you want to bring in immigrants who have no idea of the problems and force them to stay there or be deported. If it gets worse then send them home.

        This is at best a band aid on a gaping wound.
    • by mlts (1038732) on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:33AM (#46080729)

      Portland suffered through this fate many years ago. There is one thing that will put Detroit back on the map, something California and Texas do not have...

      Fresh water. Chip plants need it, businesses require this to run. When the major aquifers dry up and make sunbelt areas extremely expensive to live in (barring an advance in desalination, and even then, trying to pump that water inland), Detroit, and Michigan in general, will be relevant again. No water worries, fairly stable terrain (no earthquakes), worst issue might be blizzards.

      I'd give Detroit a couple years for it to reach its nadir, because the one-two punch of a continual drought combined with the extreme populations trying to live in desert will eventually cause an exodus back to the northern climates, as that will be where the companies relocate and where the jobs will be.

    • ...a familiar lifestyle for people from third-world countries with high crime, corrupt cops and crumbling infrastructure.

      Add "required to live and work there", and you have created the US version of the 21st-century ghetto. Congratulations.

    • The city government has third world-style corruption, too, with pay to play for contracts and sham charities run by family members where you "donate", and some sister or child gets $100k/year to "manage", on top of "renting" a room in their house to it for work for a bargain of $4500/mo.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:24AM (#46080647) Homepage Journal

    Here's the problem with importing more and more workers: They're going to get fucked by the Big Boys just like the rest of is. I have no illusions about this.

    How about Dan Costa's idea? If the feds want Detroit to live, offer business grants to get people to open up shop there, give the existing population work (instead of just importing more people), and give them the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.

    • I think you've had enough decades of "fewer people=fewer problems" as an attempt to improve things.

      • I think you've had enough decades of "fewer people=fewer problems" as an attempt to improve things.

        I'm not sure I get what you're laying down; how would importing foreigners to work in Detroit improve things for the millions of people living there already, moreso than encouraging Americans to do the same?

        • Because the people left in Detroit are trapped in a cycle of poverty, mostly with no real prospects due to lack of education(or they'd have moved out to someplace that would pay for their skills)? Every city has that problem, it's just usually bolstered by a more robust economy to help pull people out. The lack of employable people keeps employers away. The lack of employers keeps people from training for jobs they could have. And all that remains is a sense of desperation and crime.

          The neoclassical pos

          • Because the people left in Detroit are trapped in a cycle of poverty, mostly with no real prospects due to lack of education(or they'd have moved out to someplace that would pay for their skills)? Every city has that problem, it's just usually bolstered by a more robust economy to help pull people out. The lack of employable people keeps employers away. The lack of employers keeps people from training for jobs they could have. And all that remains is a sense of desperation and crime.

            I think the crime is more of a deterrent to rebirth than lack of skilled and educated workers - you don't have to be that smart or learned to be a 'process handler' in a manufacturing setting. Of course, to bring manufacturing back to Detroit would mean that our government would have to modify or cancel a lot of those "free trade agreements" that our 'leaders' have, personally, profited from enacting.

            Detroit isn't dying because the people living there suddenly decided being criminals was better than working

            • My case: the root issue isn't fixable.

              • My case: the root issue isn't fixable.

                With a collective attitude like that, you're probably right.

                We, as a nation, need a sea change from "selfish assholism" to "helping each other out, because if we all win, we're all winners."

                • It's addressable but that's not the same as fixable*. Human problems aren't going away.

                  *this claim is applicable to current tech levels, and social mores. It's possible to perceive a world where you can fix everything, a la star trek. I'm not arguing hypotheticals.

          • by dcw3 (649211)

            Maybe if the city hadn't taxed the shit out of those with income, they wouldn't have left. Then again, maybe they would with the terrible schools, and high crime rate. Detroit isn't like "Every city", it's worse, and won't get better until the corruption in local government is cleaned up.

        • If you can't get the people already there to be productive import them!

          Personally I say let it die, scrape the ruins into a big ditch and make it the dump for the rest of the US. That would be an improvement.

          • If you can't get the people already there to be productive import them!

            The question is, has anyone tried? Or is this one of those "searching for unicorns" situations, like when Microsoft begs Uncle Sam for more H1B visa workers, claiming they can't find any Americans qualified and willing to do the work?

            Personally I say let it die, scrape the ruins into a big ditch and make it the dump for the rest of the US. That would be an improvement.

            Fine for you.

            I like to fix things, and I don't like to give up. Call it a quirk.

    • give the existing population work (instead of just importing more people), and give them the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.

      So I like the idea but it's kind of a chicken vs egg thing.

      High tech companies need HIGHLY skilled workers. Most of the unemployed autoworkers in Detroit are not highly skilled.

      So unless you are including in your proposal a big training budget (and that's assuming people have the desire and or aptitude to become highly skilled) it won't work.

      However, there are a number of support roles (like garbage collection and construction) that are NOT highly skilled but that will go up as people get imported. Think

      • give the existing population work (instead of just importing more people), and give them the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.

        So I like the idea but it's kind of a chicken vs egg thing.

        High tech companies need HIGHLY skilled workers. Most of the unemployed autoworkers in Detroit are not highly skilled.

        Why does it have to be "high tech companies" and "HIGHLY skilled workers?" Why can't we, as a nation, demand that our government stop allowing corporations to outsource our jobs to indentured servants in other countries?

        Hell, if I had the capital, do you know what business I know I could start and run successfully in Detroit? A firearms manufacturing plant - nobody needs a degree to be a machinist or forklift operator, plus it's not like there'd be a shortage of customers.

        Would I prefer to start my own car

    • offer business grants to get people to open up shop there, give the existing population work (instead of just importing more people), and give them the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty.

      More importantly, give them SMALL business grants, so that Detroit develops a very diverse economy, and you have lots of 2, 3, 10, 50 employee companies that are providing a diversity of services. Even better, give priority to non-franchises so the money stays in the local economy (and the country, for that ma

      • Super insightful commentary. SuperBanana.

        With the constant drone of 'jobs, jobs, jobs,' I think we often forget that there's much more to life than working.

  • doing what? Haven't most people left because there aren't enough jobs? You want to pay off your debts, charge people an exit tax.
    • by Chrisq (894406)

      doing what? Haven't most people left because there aren't enough jobs? You want to pay off your debts, charge people an exit tax.

      Shhh ... they might be listening!

    • by xclr8r (658786)
      Not just residents/people. They are individuals with advanced degrees. The thinking is.. they will be part of projects and develop plans that need to be carried out. Then labor in Detroit might have something to do besides destroy the place or leave.
  • It seems like a default position for state and municipal politicians to primarily look at how the federal government can help them. If anybody should pay people to come to Detroit, shouldn't it be Detroit or Michigan?

    The visa issue has to be federal, of course.

  • by tompaulco (629533) on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:30AM (#46080695) Homepage Journal
    With an unemployment rate of 17.7%, it doesn't look to me like they need MORE people imported to look for work. Looks to me like they need to be spurring businesses to start there so that they can hire some of these people who are looking for work.
    As we well know, 17.7% means that these are the number of people on the eligible list of unemployment benefits...which they just cut to 20 weeks. So, it doesn't include the number of people who never found a job while they were on unemployment and now have neither a job nor can collect unemployment.
    • by ebrandsberg (75344) on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:40AM (#46080811)

      I think the idea is that if they have visas to hand out to companies, the companies will be willing to put offices in Detroit for those people to work in. From there, services will be needed from the lower-skill people in the area, think food service, etc. This will then eat into the 17.1% unemployment. The problem isn't the number of workers but the type and skill of the workers, and getting things back in balance. I'm not sure this is the right solution to the problem, but I am willing to consider that it may be A solution to the problem for now.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        The unemployment rate varies by sector. Unemployment in manufacturing is very high for obvious reasons. Unemployment in sectors like IT is much lower, partly because it's so hard to convince talent to relocate to Detroit and/or stay in the area.
      • I think the idea is that if they have visas to hand out to companies, the companies will be willing to put offices in Detroit for those people to work in. From there, services will be needed from the lower-skill people in the area, think food service, etc. This will then eat into the 17.1% unemployment. The problem isn't the number of workers but the type and skill of the workers, and getting things back in balance. I'm not sure this is the right solution to the problem, but I am willing to consider that it may be A solution to the problem for now.

        No doubt there are qualified Americans who would be willing to live and work in the Detroit area (somewhere around there anyway) if they were sufficiently financially motivated.

        This is just another ploy for American corporations to pay as little as possible to their workers.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        So basically the theory is "We should have the same kind of indentured servants that Silicon Valley has, se we can impress our corporate overlords enough that they'll throw some crumbs our way!"

        That doesn't work so long as there's another country willing to bend over backwards for its corporate overlords in a way that the US isn't: Environmental and labor safety laws - who needs 'em?

    • It's the 21st Century my good man, it's time you put aside this notion of "trying something different" -- if not employing people local to Detroit caused the problem, in the 21st Century we try again to "not employ people."

      I thought if you watched TV you would learn that "beating a dead horse" was our national pastime.

    • You don't seem to understand the modern progressive outlook for the Western World.

      Western people should only do interesting work or government work.

      Everything else is built upon mass immigration from the developing world who will do the work Western people don't want to do (for a variety of reason... low pay, too much technical training for the pay, no job security, too much risk...).

      Then you tax the immigrants and use it to provide welfare for the Western people unable to do interesting or government work.

  • Colonialism??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jplourde (1972558) on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:36AM (#46080755)
    Doesn't using the phrase "an immigrant would be required to 'live and work' in Detroit for an undetermined length of time" sound a lot like an indentured labour program? It seems awfully familiar to what the Brits did to/in India during the 1800s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_indenture_system)
    • Doesn't using the phrase "an immigrant would be required to 'live and work' in Detroit for an undetermined length of time" sound a lot like an indentured labour program? It seems awfully familiar to what the Brits did to/in India during the 1800s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_indenture_system)

      Actually it's exactly like indentureed servitude and it's been done long before the 1800's.

      I suppose it's legal since these folks will be volunteers.

      In the United States, the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) of 2000 extended servitude to cover peonage as well as Involuntary Servitude.

    • Re:Colonialism??? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ebno-10db (1459097) on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:48AM (#46080893)

      Doesn't using the phrase "an immigrant would be required to 'live and work' in Detroit for an undetermined length of time" sound a lot like an indentured labour program?

      Yes. This whole idea is completely contrary to the American ideal of immigration. A permanent resident visa should is, should be, and always has been, for the entire country. You should no more be able to stop immigrants from moving anywhere in the country they want, than you should citizens. Something about the Constitution making this a united country, and the federal government controlling immigration.

      • by dj245 (732906)

        Doesn't using the phrase "an immigrant would be required to 'live and work' in Detroit for an undetermined length of time" sound a lot like an indentured labour program?

        Yes. This whole idea is completely contrary to the American ideal of immigration. A permanent resident visa should is, should be, and always has been, for the entire country. You should no more be able to stop immigrants from moving anywhere in the country they want, than you should citizens. Something about the Constitution making this a united country, and the federal government controlling immigration.

        No, it actually isn't that much of a stretch. We have visas that tie residency to a certain company sponsoring the visa. If you change companies before citizenship becomes available, the new company has to sponsor you (which many companies don't care to do). So effectively the person is tied to that company in most cases. Tying a person to a specific geographical area isn't that much of a reach, but it is a terrible idea. Each desperate location will offer bigger and bigger incentives, create a race to

      • by Idbar (1034346)

        Permanent Resident and Visa are two different things.

        H-1B Visas are tied to a company, and legally you're bound to the company that got it for you. If they fire you, you have about 2 weeks to leave the country as the visa automatically expires. (Which seems in line with the proposed idea, just you'll have the visa not as long as you remain in the company, but rather in the state, however, another company can pick that visa up and renew it and you can move around).

        Permanent residency is not actually a visa a

    • Doesn't using the phrase "an immigrant would be required to 'live and work' in Detroit for an undetermined length of time" sound a lot like an indentured labour program? It seems awfully familiar to what the Brits did to/in India during the 1800s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_indenture_system)

      Except that presumably these immigrants would have the right to leave Detroit (and the USA) whenever they want.

    • Right, and then just like in Tejas / Texas, they'll marry the local people, then have a revolt and join the uh...union? Chinese search engine Baidu is interested in expanding internationally. The trans-revolutionary name of Detroit, Michigan will be: Meng Tan tian, Daihatsu -- The former means something like flat, smooth, quiet, peaceful in Chinese; The latter is a Japanese automaker (note that the 'first' and 'last' names get swapped around).

      The manufacturing we once relied on Detroit's for is now done o

    • Most visa programs have similar requirements, globally. For the most part, if you are not a refugee or special circumstance, and a country lets you come work, they want you to be contributing to the economy (not moving in and then immediately onto the dole).

      Most likely the terms of the visa are that you can go back home, but you can't stay in the US if you choose to leave Detroit (unlike the indentured servant program)

  • The concept of "company town" gets a spit and polish for the 21st century. Good job repackaging yesterday's failed concepts, Detroit!
  • solutions (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They should build walls around the city so their remaining citizens cannot leave.

  • by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:51AM (#46080915)

    How are you going to convince someone with an advanced degree to settle in effing Detroit? They are going to want to escape the poverty of the third world!

    The problem facing Detroit is not a lack of people with advanced degrees. The problem is decades of life under a corrupt mayor, high crime, crushing taxes, over-regulation, and shitty weather.

    The situation is improving a lot lately, but it has a long way to go. You can't solve this overnight by issuing a bunch of visas. Detroit needs to get serious about redevelopment, crime prevention, and attracting business. Once there are good jobs there, you'll have plenty of Americans with advanced degrees going there. I don't have to remind you that we're in the midst of a "jobless recovery".

    All of these things are happening already. It's just a slow process to undo decades of mismanagement.

    • by stewbee (1019450) on Monday January 27, 2014 @11:24AM (#46081265)
      I grew up in what most people would call Detroit. More specifically, in the Detroit metropolitan area. I left Michigan in 2004 when I finished college, and I have an advanced degree (MSEE). I actually have started to apply to jobs back in Michigan. There are a few reasons for this.

      1. There are a lot of jobs there right now. Seriously, go to monster and search for engineering jobs in Detroit and Ann Arbor.
      2. The cost of living is ridiculously low. We are talking great 3-4 bedroom houses in nice areas for around 250k. In most tech job locations around the country (Boston, Silicon Valley, etc), this doesn't buy you squat. other things are much cheaper too, like food and gas compared to where I am living now.
      3. I still have family there, so it would be nice to be able to make a quick drive to see my relatives.

      Now that said, there is certainly a certain type of person they are looking for in these jobs that makes getting past the HR filters difficult. Many of open positions are looking for people that have had automotive experience before, which I don't have. So in spite of having many of the other qualifications, I think that I will have a difficult time for this reason alone.

      And I hate to have to say this over and over again to people, but Detroit is just one city in the area. While I agree that Detroit has been mismanaged, the rest of the area is quite nice and look forward to moving back someday.
      • I grew up in what most people would call Detroit. More specifically, in the Detroit metropolitan area.

        Speaking as someone who has never lived in Michigan, I do not think of Farmington Hills when someone says "Detroit". When someone says "Detroit", I think of Detroit, the city. If they say Detroit metro area, that means something completely different to me.

        Also, I didn't read from the article that it was about attracting people to work outside the city limits. My reading was that it was for Detroit proper, to help in the city's redevelopment.

        Many of open positions are looking for people that have had automotive experience before, which I don't have.

        I know that you have zero control over this, but I thought I'd give

  • There are about 150,000 EB-2 visas given out every year. 1/3 of those are going to go to Detroit? Maybe they'll increase the total by 50k just for Detroit, that would still be 1/4 of the granted EB-2 visas. There is tremendous demand for these, and someone (a US business) usually pays for the substantial legal bills for the application. The people who get these visas don't grow on trees, it's probably the most competitive one you can go for, depending on where you're from. I've known experienced scienti

  • They should talk to Bank Of America, or Citi
    They have cards with the new chip technology to prevent fraud

  • What am I missing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wcrowe (94389) on Monday January 27, 2014 @10:58AM (#46081001)

    Am I missing something here? Who are these 50,000 people supposed to work for? The article vaguely mentions them, "opening businesses", but I have to ask, open businesesses doing what?

  • Help people get a new start in another city with more job opportunities, don't bring in more people when unemployment there is so high.

  • by Virtucon (127420) on Monday January 27, 2014 @11:02AM (#46081051)

    There's a lot of decay in Detroit, so much so that it's unattractive to new businesses. Even if you get get more workers into Detroit, what would they do for a living? Plow down more blocks of vacant, dilapidated houses? As has been said here, the unemployment rate in Detroit is in the high teens and if there's ever going to be a re-birth, what has to happen is that businesses need to be able to move back into Detroit and that requires a solid government and a solid infrastructure otherwise you may just as well bulldoze the rest down.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 27, 2014 @11:23AM (#46081245)

    I think Costa missed a big selling point for Detroit - proximity to Canada. If things keep getting worse instead of better, you're only a bridge away from Windsor, Ontario, Canada! Mexicans upset with low employment and poverty go North and cross the border for a better in the States. That same option is available to us! Southern Ontario has the same climate as Detroit, nicer people, generic drugs, and way less gun and violent crime. Sounds like a solution to me!

    (The thing is - even I don't know if know if I'm joking or not...)

  • 'I also think the federal government should be offering people in the U.S. some money and land in Detroit if they'll move there,'

    Yeah, because the only thing keeping people out of Detroit now is high land prices!

  • Sweet, I've always wanted Robocop to be real.

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