Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has a message for immigrants: "Please come here."
Snyder said Friday that bringing more immigrants into the state is key to driving economic growth.
"People think they're taking jobs," Snyder said. "But the reality is that "they create jobs."
The governor made his remarks at an immigration forum at the Detroit Athletic Club in downtown Detroit, which was organized by the University of Detroit Mercy law school.
"Immigration and economic development -- they go hand in hand," Snyder said.
Other speakers at Friday's forum included leaders with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Mich.; law professors; UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, immigrant advocates and Canadian officials.
Snyder and Peters both expressed their support for comprehensive immigration reform, which is being debated by Congress.
"We have to have a path to citizenship for the 11.5 million undocumented" immigrants, said Peters. We can't "force people to live in the shadows," he said.
Professor David Koelsch of the University of Detroit Mercy, who helped organize Friday's forum, said the event was done to "focus on immigrants as a positive force" for metro Detroit. Organizers noted that Michigan is the only state to have lost population over the last decade and so could use more immigrants.
Steve Tobocman, a former state representative who now heads Global Detroit, said immigrants can help create "jobs and economic growth."
As he arrived, Snyder was met with protesters upset over his plan for an emergency financial manager in Detroit. The protesters included members of the National Action Network (the Rev. Al Sharpton's group), Rainbow PUSH (the Rev. Jesse Jackson's group), members of the SEIU and the Alliance for Immigrant Rights and Reform.
Snyder said of the protest: "That's part of democracy." Contact Niraj Warikoo: email@example.com or 313-223-4792
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