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Immigrants in Michigan: Host State of This Week’s GOP & Democrat Debates

This week, the remaining presidential candidates will head to Michigan for their respective party debates. Tonight, Republicans take the stage at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, while Democrats will go head to head in Flint on Sunday. These debates come just before Michigan and Mississippi residents cast their votes in state primaries on March 8.

Michigan is home to over 600,000 immigrants, who account for 6 percent of the state’s population, and between 2000 and 2013 the foreign-born population grew at a rate of almost 16 percent.

In advance of the debates and primaries, learn about some of the ways that Michigan’s immigrant population contributes to the Wolverine State’s economy.


There are more than 30,000 immigrant-owned businesses in Michigan, generating $1.8 billion in business income each year. In a state that has battled population decline over the past decade, immigrants in Michigan are helping to spur innovation to retain and attract residents. For example, between 2002 and 2012, immigrants founded one-third of Michigan’s high-tech startups, making a foreign-born individual in Michigan 6 times more likely to start a high-tech firm than a native-born resident.


In 2012, almost 30 percent of doctors in Michigan had graduated from an international medical school.

Contributions to entitlement programs

Foreign-born Hispanics in Michigan contributed $216 million to Social Security and $50 million to Medicare in 2013.

Education and STEM fields

International students play a big role in Michigan’s higher education system, as well as within its workforce. In 2010, Michigan had the 9th highest number of foreign students enrolled in its public universities in the country. According to the Institute of International Education, foreign-born students in Michigan contributed more than $705 million to the state’s economy between 2010 and 2011. Additionally that year, one in five STEM workers with an advanced degree in Michigan were foreign-born.

To learn more, check out our interactive map, which shows how immigrants impact state economies across the country.

About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…