immigration

Michigan apple farmers desperate for pickers

Oct 5, 2013
MI Farm Bureau

The Michigan Farm Bureau is appealing across the eastern U.S. for help with finding workers to harvest the state's bumper crop of apples.

The organization sent "help wanted" postcards this week to more than 300 registered farm labor contractors, mostly in Florida and Georgia.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights was created as part of the state constitution drafted in 1963. It’s charged with enforcing civil rights laws and preventing discrimination.

Leslee Fritz is the department’s interim director. She told a group in Grand Rapids Tuesday night the state has come a long way to ensure civil rights in the last five decades.

user JMR_Photography / Flickr

Fewer immigrants are choosing to make Michigan their new home, according to figures released by the Department of Homeland Security.

Last year, Michigan’s immigrant population dropped 4.6% — the second-lowest level in the past 12 years.  

That decline doesn’t fit with current immigration trends in the Midwest. Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Ohio have all seen an increase in immigration. Only Michigan and Wisconsin are experiencing a drop.

But while the number of newcomers coming to the state is on the decline, one immigrant group continues to flow to Michigan — Iraqis.

“Michigan is just second to California in terms of its attraction of Iraqi immigrants,” said Kurt Metzger, director emeritus of Data Driven Detroit.

globaldetroit.com

When you consider all of the possible "fixes" being discussed for struggling big cities like Detroit, there is an idea being offered up that has truly stood the test of time: attract more immigrants.

It's the way cities have been built all through American history. Open the doors to people who are hungry for new opportunities, for a new life, and watch them pour their energies into building new businesses, improving their homes and neighborhoods, attracting more new residents as family members follow from the Old Country.

But immigrants are not coming to Detroit, and that is something Steve Tobocman hopes to change.

He is the director of Global Detroit. So far, they've launched over a half dozen distinct initiatives to make Southeast Michigan---and Detroit---more welcoming to immigrants.

Steve Tobocman joined us today to talk about the program.

Listen to the full interview above.

Entrepreneurship is on the rise in West Michigan. We took a look at what this means for the Grand Rapids area and the rest of the state.

And, when you consider all of the possible "fixes" being discussed for struggling big cities like Detroit, there is an idea being offered up that has truly stood the test of time: attract more immigrants.

Also, we heard how a University of Michigan professor is using archeology to tell the story of undocumented immigrants crossing the border from Mexico into the U.S.

First on the show,  Michigan now has the fourth highest rate in the nation of parents who do not have their children vaccinated for religious, medical and other reasons. Many simply don’t get all the immunization shots required.

Despite adamant statements from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers of Disease Control that vaccines have no link to autism, an anti-vaccination movement is growing online, from parent to parent, and through activist celebrities, such as actress Jenny McCarthy.

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and physicians are mounting fresh efforts  to get more Michigan children fully vaccinated.

This vaccination push begins as the number of children falling ill with preventable diseases is on the rise.

We wanted to see how this story is being played out in the exam rooms of a busy pediatric practice, day-in and day out. Oakland County pediatrician Dr. Martin Levinson has been practicing medicine for 33 years. He joined us today.

lsa.umich.edu

It was the mid 1990's when the United States began an immigration enforcement strategy called Prevention Through Deterrence, or PTD.

It consisted of boosting security in unauthorized crossing areas surrounding major border cities with the idea that undocumented migrants would have to shift towards remote border regions where crossing conditions are much more difficult -- places like the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona.

Two decades later, it's clear that PTD has failed to deter undocumented migrants.

The smuggling industry in northern Mexico has grown to serve the migrants, and here in the U.S., the movement to reform our broken immigration system is growing with bipartisan support.

But what of the life stories of these migrants?

That question has led Jason De León to apply his scientific training in anthropology and archeology to discovering the thousands of stories of these migrants.

De León is a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and he's the director of the Undocumented Migration Project.

Global Detroit

A report released today on metro Detroit's foreign-born population shows between five and 15% of people in Southeastern Michigan are immigrants. The study, conducted by Global Detroit and Data Driven Detroit, shows metro Detroit's immigrants don't follow traditional patterns of foreign-born populations in urban areas.

Sarah Alvarez

In honor of July 4th, we asked immigrants across Michigan what America means to them. Abdo Najy shared his story.

Abdo Najy has just recently completed his PhD and hopes to run his own lab soon. He's friendly, smiles a lot, and is animated when he talks about his research on breast and prostate cancer. 

Najy is modest and measured, but he knows he has a role in the search for a cure to cancer. He views his work as a scientist as his way to repay this country for educational opportunities he would not have had in his native Yemen. 

Born in Yemen in the 1980’s in the midst of a polio outbreak, Najy contracted the disease when he was just six months old.

Do you trust your government? What about your government? Do your elected leaders trust you?

Disapproval rates of Congress are at all-time lows - gridlock, and indecision. Can we change the dynamic, and what does it mean going forward?

And census results show a surprising trend: the state's male population is growing. We took a look at what's behind the numbers.

Also we spoke with Michael Narlock, head of Astronomy at the Cranbrook Institute of Science, about the best places to go in Michigan for stargazing this summer.

And Darrin Camilleri, President of the Michigan Federation of College Democrats, joined us to talk about increasing tuition and raised interested rates for student loans.

Also we continued our week-long series of stories from immigrants about what America means to them.

Today we heard from Linda Steinke, whose family came to the U.S. from Iran in the 1970s when her father had the opportunity to work in the auto industry.

First on the show, the group Keep Michigan Wolves Protected has filed language with the Secretary of State to put another petition on the 2014 ballot. The group wants to ban wolf hunting in Michigan.

If the language is approved, the group will try and collect more than 160 thousand signatures to put the question to voters.

Rick Pluta, the Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network joined us today.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

In honor of July 4th, we asked immigrants across Michigan what America means to them. Linda Steinke shared her story with us.

Her family came to the U.S. from Iran in the 1970s when her father had the opportunity to work in the auto industry.

Steinke is petite, with striking, honey-brown eyes. And these days she works as interpreter at medical appointments.

"I not only interpret the language, but I interpret the culture," Steinke explains.

Christian Haugen / Flickr

In honor of July 4th, we asked immigrants across Michigan what America means to them. A young woman from Mexico shared her story with us.


For some, the journey of getting to America can be just as challenging as starting a new life in the country.

“We walked here, basically,” a young woman from Mexico told us. “My mom brought me and my brother here when I was eight.”

“We crossed the border... and we just walked for hours and hours.”

Today, the 17-year-old lives at the Salvation Army’s Teen Parent Center in Grand Rapids.The Salvation Army asked us not to use her name, or the name of her one-year-old son.

bbmcshane / flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A Detroit judge says a lawsuit can go forward against federal authorities accused of violating the rights of Muslims at U.S.-Canada border crossings.

Federal Judge Avern Cohn says he's not ruling yet on the merits of the case. But he denied a request by the government to dismiss it Tuesday.

Some Detroit-area Muslims sued last year, saying they've been held at gunpoint, handcuffed and repeatedly questioned about their religion when returning to the U.S. from Canada. Some have given up on crossing the border.

Cohn says the government might come up with valid reasons for pulling Muslims aside for additional questions at the border. But he says that's not the key issue at this stage of the litigation.

cncphotos / flickr

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Kyle Norris discuss Medicaid expansion in Michigan, immigration reform and how it could affect struggling Michigan cities, and the race for Senator Carl Levin’s seat in the U.S. Senate.

dreamactivist.org

It is extremely rare to have someone actually seek out a situation that would end with an arrest and a trip to jail.

But Claudia Munoz did exactly that. She got herself seized as an undocumented immigrant at the Ambassador Bridge in order to see first-hand what things are like at the immigration detention center in Calhoun County near Battle Creek.

Claudia is part of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, an activist group based in Washington. Their mission is to highlight immigration cases and pressure authorities to take a fresh look at their detention and deportation practices.

Claudia Munoz joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

It's not often that people actively seek out a situation that ends up putting them in jail, but on today's show, we spoke with one woman who did exactly that in order to put a spotlight on undocumented immigrants.

And, communities all across the state are spending money to become more bike-friendly. We found out why they think this will help reverse Michigan's brain-drain.

Also, three Michigan filmmakers switched gears from movies to music, and this weekend they are hosting a big outdoor music festival in Clare County.  

First on the show, Michigan will get $100 million from the federal government to tear down thousands of vacant houses and clean up struggling neighborhoods.

The money will be used in Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Pontiac and Saginaw.

Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee has been pushing hard for this funding. He joined us today from Flint.

On Thursday, June 6th, Global Detroit is hosting the Global Great Lakes Network Convening in Detroit. Jennifer White speaks today with Steve Tobocman, director of Global Detroit about how the organization works to strengthen the economy of southeast Michigan through projects that connect immigrants to the global economy.

The Great Lakes Network Convening in Detroit will bring together leaders from similar organizations across the Rust Belt to share best practices, and collaborate on how to once again make the Midwest an economic powerhouse.

“The most important thing is that we create a welcoming environment; letting the world’s talent, investment, and trade know that Michigan and its cities are open for business,” says Tobocman.

“We want to compete, and we want the world’s most talented employees and entrepreneurs.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush did a number of things on Mackinac Island yesterday. He managed to completely pack the Grand Hotel’s auditorium as the first major speaker of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual conference.

He made some connections for what could be—could be—a run for the presidency three years from now. He gave intelligent and well-thought out perspectives on education and immigration reform.

But he also illustrated the huge dilemma facing today’s Republican Party, especially on immigration. Bush artfully sketched out the outlines of a policy that would actively encourage more immigrants, especially those who are well-educated and have needed skills. He would take us from a policy where most immigration is done for family reunification to one based on our nation’s economic priorities. That would seem to make a lot of sense.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A new report by Michigan United and the Center for American Progress says that legalizing undocumented workers could give Michigan a significant economic boost.

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

A demonstration took place this afternoon in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices in Detroit.

Protestors gathered at 12:30 p.m. today asking for the release of Michael Mendy, a gay Senegalese artist who has lived in the U.S. for nearly 15 years. Michigan Radio's Kate Wells went to the demonstration and will bring us an update.

She shot this video:

The U.S. appears to be on the verge of the biggest immigration changes in a generation. Legislation being debated in Congress would allow many immigrants who are now here illegally an eventual path to citizenship.

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