The Governor of Michigan unleashed his proposal to revitalize the city of Detroit through “smart immigrants”. The governor wants to attract 50,000 individuals with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in the sciences, arts, or business over the next 5 years. The city of Detroit is destitute and on life-support. Such an influx of educated foreign nationals grateful for the opportunities available in the United States may be exactly what the city needs. While Detroit is probably not their first choice, with few jobs, under-performing schools, and blighted communities, I suspect many will still jump at the opportunity to move to the United States.
The program has some practical problems as well. How do you guarantee the immigrants will stay in Detroit? Do they get an electric ankle bracelet? Why just Detroit, there are other cities that badly need skilled immigrants also. There are programs for doctors who serve in a medically-underserved area to obtain a visa, such as the Conrad 30 Waiver program. It is conceivable that a similar program could be constructed for areas with high unemployment or poverty rates.
Now, how exactly would such a program get created? Immigration is Federal law. So no matter how badly Michigan and Detroit wants these foreign nationals, they are powerless to issue visas to them. The typical way such a program would get enacted is through Congress. Given their track record over the last 5 years, such a proposal is probably dead on arrival. President Obama, could issue an Executive Order that would create such a program. This would be a very bold move, and sure to face criticism from the Republican party claiming such an act should go through Congress.
Will this ever happen? I think it is highly unlikely, and will probably remain just a dream (like the DREAM Act), but if so it would be one of many positive changes the Government can make to our country through immigration reform.