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Auchter's Art: A New Year's resoution to encourage immigration

John Auchter
Michigan Radio

Do me a favor. Open up Google Earth and go to Hamtramck, Michigan. (Go ahead — if you're working, it's still basically the holidays, so your boss won't mind a quick diversion.)

Notice the tightly packed rows of homes. Now go south past the GM plant to Poletown. Notice the immense space, the only occasional batch of houses, the vast emptiness. Zooming in to both places tells even more of the story: Hamtramck is a viable community, Poletown is not.

What happened? Well, lots of things. But the obvious difference maker is that in Hamtramck, as most of its original population of Polish immigrants moved on, new immigrants moved in. In Poletown, residents moved on and nobody replaced them, so it died.

Michigan Radio had a story this week about the state's population growth in the past decade. We did grow, but only slightly and not nearly at the rate of most other states. This is a problem. As the article states:

"Population determines Michigan’s political representation in Congress (the state is virtually guaranteed to lose another U.S. House seat after the next census), the amount of federal dollars the state gets for vital services, and leaves the state with an aging workforce and a dwindling number of working-age adults to support them and drive the state’s economy."

Now of course it's an oversimplification to say immigration is the sole solution. But a brief look at Michigan history will tell you that immigration has paid our state exponential dividends, despite immigrants themselves often being feared and scapegoated. We have the opportunity in this first year of the new decade to reconsider the benefits of encouraging immigration.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

Want to support reporting like this? Consider making a gift to Michigan Radio today.

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganRadio.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com.
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