A new report attempts to make the case for Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s vision of remaking Michigan as “the state of choice for many newcomer populations.”

The American Immigration Council highlighted the “Contributions of New Americans in Michigan” in a new report published on Wednesday that shows the state’s immigrant population is growing nearly 10 times faster than the overall population.

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A total of 687,700 immigrants resided in Michigan in 2022, representing about 7% of the total population.

Over the preceding decade, the immigrant population increased by 14.5%, compared to 1.5% for Michigan in general, adding 87,000 immigrants to the Great Lakes State since 2012, according to the report.

Those immigrants accounted for 57.7% of the state’s growth during that time, which the American Immigration Council argues will play a critical role in stopping projected population losses in the coming decades.

“It’s absolutely imperative for policy leaders to invest in what has proven to be our strongest asset in fighting population loss and economic stagnation – our immigrant workforce,” Jeremy Robbins, the council’s executive director, said in a statement cited by Michigan Advance.

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The AIC report offers numerous statistics to suggest that’s a good idea, noting higher percentages of working age immigrants, immigrants in select occupations, and immigrant entrepreneurs, compared to the overall population.

Those statistics are juxtaposed with high demand for jobs including nurses, retail workers, sales representatives, and fast food employment, along with demand for bilingual workers in a variety of fields, as well as immigrant earnings and tax contributions.

There’s also data on refugees, those eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and illegal immigrants, which account for nearly 15% of the state’s immigrant population at 102,700 people.

What’s missing from the report is how much the Whitmer administration is already “investing” in efforts to draw immigrants to Michigan, and questions about whether those who entered the country illegally should benefit from that spending.

Whitmer’s “Newcomer Rental Subsidy” program created last year, for one, pays out $500 per month to asylum seekers, though federal data shows the vast majority are defensive asylum claims filed by illegal immigrants facing deportation.

When Republicans recently attempted to clarify that illegal immigrants are ineligible for that program and others, Democrats rejected the move, despite promises from the Whitmer administration that’s the case.

There’s also $738,000 allocated in the current budget to “support newcomer integration” through grants to “ethnic and community based organizations” that cater to immigrants, and Whitmer’s pending budget proposal to spend $8 million to cover the legal bills of those seeking asylum, a form of protection from deportation that allows immigrants to apply for Social Security benefits and Medicaid.

“This isn’t about politics; it’s about responsible governance,” said Rep. William Bruck, R-Erie. “Taxpayer dollars should be used to benefit legal residents of our state, not those who have entered the country unlawfully. That’s something we should all be able to agree on.”

The Whitmer administration’s push to divert tax dollars to recruit immigrants to Michigan stems in large part on projected population declines in the coming decades, which experts have tied to Democratic policies that make life more expensive for residents.

Findings from Whitmer’s own Growing Michigan Together Council released late last year show the state is “lagging in median income, educational outcomes and attainment and have fallen behind faster-growing peer states in key measures of infrastructure, community well-being, and job opportunities.”

“Michigan now ranks 49th out of 50 states in growth since 2020 and our population is aging,” the report read.