- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2011

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has a proposal to solve the nation’s illegal-immigration problem: invite the new arrivals to earn their citizenship by living and working in Detroit for a few years.

“Take a look at the big, old industrial cities — Detroit, for example,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “They’ve got a great mayor, Mayor [Dave] Bing. But the population has left. You’ve got to do something about that.

“And if I were the federal government, assuming you could wave a magic wand and pull everybody together, you 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.”

“You can use something like immigration policy — at no cost to the federal government — to fix a lot of the problems that we have,” he said.

The Motor City, which has lost 25 percent of its residents since the last census and was hit as hard as any city during the recession, didn’t close the door on the unorthodox idea.

“We are open to that,” Bing’s spokesman, Dan Lijana, told the Detroit News. “The other part of the equation deals with being able to provide a high quality of life — whether it’s jobs, good public safety, the kind of systems and processes that are welcoming to people and allow them to succeed. But it can’t be the only thing. It’s part of the equation, but it can’t be the entire strategy.”

Mr. Bloomberg reminded viewers that America is a country of immigrants.

“This is a country that was built by immigrants,” he said. “This is a country that became a superpower because of its immigrant population. And unless we continue to have immigrants, we cannot maintain as a superpower.”

• Tim Devaney can be reached at tdevaney@washingtontimes.com.

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