Saying the U.S. "is committing suicide with the current immigration laws," former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg outlined his vision for immigration reform before a group of entrepreneurs on Thursday night during a fundraising event for Venture for America.
Elaborating on a comment he made in May during an interview on NBC's Meet the Press about how to curb Detroit's population decline and foster economic growth, Bloomberg said that offering citizenship to entrepreneurial immigrants is the best way to to revitalize the nation's struggling cities.
"One thing that our country has that everybody wants--and we could give without any great pain--is citizenship," Bloomberg said. "What I would do for cities like Baltimore and Detroit is to say to the world: If you want to come, we'll assign you to a city and the deal is you take no state, federal, or local aide, you stay out of trouble, and you and your family have to live in that city for seven years." Anyone following that path would be eligible to become a U.S. citizen at the end of that period.
Bloomberg further called for allowing immigrants to apply to any job without needing a visa sponsor and to rent or buy a home with no complicated issues. Once situated, he said, they would pay taxes, have children attend local schools, and become invested in the local economy.
Venture for America, a two-year training program founded by Andrew Yang that places recent college graduates at startups in cities around the country, aims to create 100,000 new jobs by 2025. At the event, Bloomberg praised the organization for helping to spread entrepreneurship and strengthen the economy. "Venture for America is doing important work. Our cities unfortunately need you," he said.
"Small businesses are the lifeblood of our country," the former mayor added. "Every big business started out as a small business."