Steve Tobocman makes an economic—and heartfelt—case for immigration

October 19, 2018

Ford school alum and former Michigan Representative Steve Tobocman (MPP/JD ’97) penned an opinion piece for Bridge titled “Would my grandfather be allowed into the U.S. today, would yours?,” going into his personal and professional reasons to reject the Trump Administration’s newest immigration rulings. These regulations aim to expand public charge rules, which Tobocman states will “explicitly authorize immigration officials to withhold green cards from applicants who utilize any number of government aid programs.”

Tobocman begins the piece by highlighting his own family’s American Dream story, weaving it into his love for the diverse fabric of Detroit, specifically its immigrant communities. He claims that the Trump Administration is using these expanded regulations as a guise to further their efforts to drastically reduce legal immigration. 

Tobocman has two main critiques of such an effort. The first deals with the principle of such regulations, which he writes claim a “meanness and me-first attitude that tarnishes our history as a generous nation.” Tobocman recounts his family history as well as recent data showing that immigrants are a “backbone to numerous American industries” and yet in Detroit are “more likely to live in poverty, more likely to be working, and less likely to receive any form of public assistance.” His second argument is economical. Taking Michigan’s 2010 data showing it as the only state to have lost population, Tobocman points out that the major population growth—and subsequently economic upswing—Michigan has seen since then has been entirely due to immigrants. He builds upon the economic argument using data from the Ford School, which “documents that the last decade of refugee resettlement in Southeast Michigan contributed some $250 million annually to the regional economy in 2016 alone.”

Tobocman utilizes both logic and compassion throughout the opinion piece to make the case against such public charge expansions. His worry is national, but he orients it specifically to Michigan’s own growth, showing that “the proposal threatens much of what has contributed to Michigan economic recovery and the future growth and prosperity of our region.”

Read his full opinion piece on Bridge

Steve Tobocman is a former member of the Michigan House of Representatives, having represented the 12th district in Southwest Detroit. He earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School and Masters in Public Policy from the Ford School of Public Policy. He has served as the director for Global Detroit since 2009