Michigan Department of Civil Rights celebrates 50 years. In 1964, Michigan was the first state to add civil rights to the state constitution. Deputy Director for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, Leslee Fritz job is to help fight against discrimination and the laws that enforce them. Her department sees an average of 125 cases a year regarding same.
“Michigan is the only state in the United States that takes civil rights so serious,” stated Leslee Fritz, deputy director for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.
Steve Tobocman, director of “Global Detroit,” talked about the economic impact of immigration on our society.
“Immigration just means that you were born from another country. It doesn’t mean that you are illegal or that you don’t belong in the United States,” said Tobocman.
According to Tobocman, 28 percent of all small businesses were started by immigrants.
“Some of our biggest brand names in the United States were started from immigrants: Ebay, Levis, Budweiser, Google, Meijer and many more. This is why “Global Detroit” wants to make Detroit a welcoming mat for immigrants, so they can draw in more jobs and a get our economy booming.” Tobocman said before asking the questions, “Are immigrants’ job makers? Or job takers?”
The four panelists consisted of Port Huron’s mayor Pauline Repp, SC4 professor Michael Bellman, port director of U.S. Custom and Border Protection Dave Dusellier, and the president of the “Community Foundation of St. Clair,” Randy Maiers. The Panel discussion moderator was Daniel B. Casey from the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County.
Casey asked the panelists what the impact immigration has on our community.
Repp replied, “There are many benefits of having immigrants and one of them is that they tend to have higher education.” Repp believes that one of our biggest concerns is the language barrier.
Dusellier said their primary mission is to, “Protect our community by not allowing the bad people over.” Border Protection is trying to make it easier for the good to come over by working with people and companies.
Maiers believes that it is us as a community that is making it hard for the immigrants to want to be here. He stated, “We are a closed community. We need to work on our interactions with others and make people want to come back to our community.”
“We need more diversity in the school” said Belleman. He also believes the greater the diversity, the more students will learn.
According to Belleman, the school should have better understanding on what the businesses want, so the teachers can prepare the students for life after college.