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Mayor Bloomberg: Immigration May Be Only Solution For Crumbling Cities

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Lucas Jackson
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

For the most part, we don't hear novel arguments in favor or against the controversial issue of immigration. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been one of the few to take a different view. Last year, he advocated opening the door to new immigrants if they all moved to Detroit.

At the time, it was derided as weird.

Yesterday, Bloomberg dove deeper into that thread endorsing a plan that would let states decide immigration policy. The New York Post reports:

"'There's no reason why you have to have a common immigration policy for all of America,' he argued. 'You could let each state do it differently.

"'I would argue the federal government should go one step further. They should deliberately force some places that don't want immigrants to take them, because that's the only solution for these big, hollowed-out cities where industry has left and is never going to come back unless you get some people to move there.'"

Bloomberg's comments came as he presented the findings of a study commissioned by the Partnership for New York City and Partnership for a New American Economy.

The report ( pdf) argues that U.S. immigration laws "have failed to keep pace with the country's economic needs." Essentially, the report found, the U.S. will have a shortfall of workers qualified for science, technology, engineering and math jobs. And it also found the U.S. needs young immigrant workers to keep GDP growth at a good clip. The U.S. is producing too few young workers on their own, the report found.

As the Post points out, the report found that in 1991, about 18 percent of both Canada's and U.S. immigrants were considered "highly skilled."

Canada has a much more liberal immigration policy, so "by last year, Canada's percentage had soared to 67, while the United States was falling further behind, at 13 percent."

According to Bloomberg, what the U.S. needs to do is think about immigration policy as an economic tool.

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Eyder Peralta
Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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