News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A radical idea to save Detroit: Bring in more immigrants.

Excerpts from a New York Times editorial.

Speaking on “Meet the Press” on NBC earlier this month, New York Mayor Michael Bloombergsuggested that Congress “pass a law letting immigrants come in as long as they agree to go to Detroit and live there for five or 10 years, start businesses, take jobs, whatever.  You would populate Detroit overnight because half the world wants to come here.”

That was certainly the experience of New York City, which was on life support in the 1970s until a transfusion of immigrant energy and entrepreneurship brought it roaring back.

Renewal by immigrants is the fundamental American narrative, the story of people in ships, then covered wagons, coming to settle and make fruitful a land that rewarded their courage and grit. Except now that story is scorned and discarded, along with many of those immigrants.