June 16, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Snyder: More needs to be done to welcome immigrants

Dearborn— Gov. Rick Snyder said Monday the state continues to “embrace diversity” but more needs to be done to welcome immigrants and grow its tax base.

Snyder, participating in a town hall event at the Arab American National Museum, said Michigan residents need to be “louder and prouder” in promoting programs that are working in the state.

The Republican governor said if someone made a top-five list of what makes America a great country, immigration would have to be near the top.

“I don’t think anyone could make that list of five things and and not have immigration be on that list,” he said, addressing a group of about 50 inside the 9-year-old museum. “It truly is something that has made us unique in terms of embracing diversity in terms of understanding that we come from many different places but were more powerful when we come together.”

But refugees, particularly children, continue to struggle, he said. And more needs to be done on bringing in immigrants — especially those with training and talent. He has requested from the federal government 50,000 work visas over five years for immigrants to live and work in Detroit.

“The key to a formula like that is understanding that these highly skilled immigrants would be job creators,” he said. “ ... Someone in a highly skilled position with a master’s degree or an advanced degree on average creates about two-and-a-half jobs for every position they occupy.”

Snyder was asked to help ensure teacher accountability and proper training before teaching classes. Some also brought up discrimination against Arab-Americans and the worry that he doesn’t have enough Arab Americans on his staff. Snyder said he plans to explore the issues.

After the event, Snyder said he would stay focused on road funding issues. The Michigan Legislature adjourned Thursday after failing to pass new gas and diesel taxes.

“We’ll just stay relentless on the issue, and we’ll get a solution.” Snyder told reporters.

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