Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s suggestion to allow new immigrants into America — just as long as they help repopulate a blighted Detroit — was met with contempt Sunday in Hizzoner’s home city and beyond.
“It’s against human rights,” said Michelle Risa, 60, of Murray Hill. “He should move to Detroit if he’s suggesting a solution. Would he like to be told where to go?”
Bloomberg, appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to talk about the nation’s economy, suggested that declining industrial cities such as Detroit could be rebuilt with the help of immigrants.
“If I were the federal government, assuming you could wave a magic wand and pull everybody together, you pass a law letting immigrants come in as long as they agreed to go to Detroit and live there for five or ten years,” Bloomberg said. “Start businesses, take jobs, whatever.”
The suggestion by the immigration-friendly mayor left many baffled.
“Sending people there isn’t going to create jobs,” added Adrian Rubio, 39, of midtown. “People are leaving because there are no jobs there.”
“It may be great for Detroit because it could revive its population, but it’s ludicrous,” said Carol Swain, a political science professor at Vanderbilt University who believes that the country should worry about enforcing immigration laws instead. “We have 11 to 18 million undocumented persons that are competing with American citizens for jobs, for health care, for education, for a decent standard of living.”
A spokeswoman for Detroit Mayor Dave Bing said Sunday that the Motor City could use some revving up and is open to helpful ideas, especially after it lost an astounding 25 percent of its population between 2000 and 2010.
“Again, ideas are just that — there has to be a reality component to them to make sure they can really work,” said spokeswoman Karen Dumas.
Andrew Friedman, co-executive director of Make the Road New York, a Brooklyn-based immigrant advocacy group, said Bloomberg is “spot on” by suggesting that immigrants change a city’s landscape for the better.
“The reality is that New York would look a lot like Detroit without the immigrant spirit that is here,” Friedman said.
(With Dina Davis)
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— Population plunge: From a peak of about 2 million in the 1950s to 714,000 in 2010
— 25 percent of Detroit residents left in the last decade
— 12.7 percent unemployment rate
— Mayor wants to tear down 10,000 abandoned buildings by 2013
— Approximately 90,000 abandoned homes or vacant lots
— Median home price is 30 percent below 2000 levels; down 13 percent from last year
Source: Compiled from news reports and Bureau of Labor Statistics
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What Bloomberg has said about immigration:
“You can’t deport [undocumented workers]. It’s just too many people. It would never happen. So let’s find a way where they are productive, where they contribute to society.” – April 24, 2011, on “Fox News Sunday”
“If international fashion companies face too many visa problems in America, they will simply move their billions in revenue and thousands of jobs to our competitors overseas. We need an immigration strategy that supports our businesses, instead of getting in their way.” – Feb. 18, 2011, in news release
“After 9/11, we went from reaching out and trying to get the best and the brightest to come here, to trying to keep them out. In fact, we do the stupidest thing, we give them educations and then don’t give them green cards.” – Dec. 26, 2010, on “Meet the Press”
“What frustrates the American public is that we can’t understand why you guys [Congress] complain about immigrants coming over the border illegally and then you guys don’t do anything about it.” – Sept. 20, 2010, at House committee hearing