DACA workers would leave a hole in economy if forced to leave

Capital News Service

LANSING —  Veronica Thronson, director of the Immigration Law Clinic at Michigan State University, said the economic impact to ending DACA is uncertain, but it could have detrimental effects on those already benefiting from it.

Thronson said she knows of DACA participants who are research assistants at Michigan State.  Another created her own business, she said.

“She started a business where I think she has four or five employees so not only are they [DACA recipients] contributing, they’re also employing other people,” Thronson said. “And so the impact is just going to be tremendous.”

Michigan’s economy could lose hundreds of millions of dollars if the children of undocumented immigrants are deported, according to some analyses.

However, much uncertainty remains on the scale of the potential loss as the result of the Trump administration’s push for a plan to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

That program — enacted under former President Barack Obama — protects children brought to the United States by undocumented immigrants. To qualify, most had to enter the U.S. before they were 16 and live here since June 15, 2007.

A liberal think tank, the Center for American Progress, based in Washington, D.C., pegs the economic loss at nearly $390 million for Michigan and nationally at $433.4 billion over the next 10 years. The conservative Cato Institute, also in Washington, puts the national figure at $280 billion over the next decade.

DACA allows these undocumented immigrants to apply for a two-year period of deferred action on deportation and to apply for a work permit. It does not give them legal status as a citizen.

Trump moved to end DACA Tuesday, giving its nearly 800,000 participants a six-month delay before they are eligible for deportation.

The onus is now on Congress to replace the program before the six-month delay ends.

The Center for American Progress estimates there are 5,982 Michigan DACA participants and that 5,204 of them are employed.

The Washington, D.C., Migration Policy Institute estimates that 15,000 Michigan residents are eligible for the program.

Experts say that the loss to the economy comes from losing potential workers.

Many participants are also pursuing high -evel degrees which will translate into employment in high skilled jobs,  Thronson said.

Much of the uncertainty shinges on how or if Congress adopts a new law regarding DACA.

“In that case the effects are likely to be small,” said Charles Ballard, an economist with the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan Statey.

The approximately 6,000 Michigan DACA participants could have a small economic impact in a state of 10 million residents, Ballard said. It would fall more so on the individual than on the economy as a whole.

As for highly skilled workers being removed from the economy, Ballard said he believes it wouldn’t be “devastating” to the economy in Michigan but would present a challenge to employers.

“If you’re an employer and you have a few of your top workers and all of a sudden they’re gone, that hurts your business — no question about it,” Ballard said.

Canada might be a benefactor if Michigan DACA workers are deported, he said. Many might choose to move there instead of facing deportation to a country which doesn’t speak English as a primary language.

“If we basically export thousands of highly skilled workers to Canada, that’s a win for Canada and a loss for the United States,” Ballard said.

Removing potential skilled workers harms the economy, Ike Brannon, a visiting fellow at the Cato Institute, wrote in an email.

“We’d basically be taking almost a million potential workers, all of whom have or are receiving post-high-school education, and are consigning them to the informal/underground work force,” Brannon wrote. “When the unemployment rate is below 4.5 percent, the issue isn’t that we have skilled people who are looking for jobs

“It’s that we have occupations that are wanting for skilled people, and we’re removing people who fill those needed positions, Brannon said.

Reading, writing, arithmetic and saving lives, Michigan schools to teach CPR

Capital News Service

LANSING – This year, in addition to math, science and history, students will also be learning how to save lives.

It is the first year that Michigan schools must teach students to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation and use automated external defibrillators. The law now mandates that between seventh and 12th grade, students must learn how to perform CPR to graduate from high school.

“This legislation brought Michigan in line with more than half of the country by ensuring all Michigan students learn the life-saving skill of CPR before graduation,” said Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, the primary sponsor of the bill.

Thirty-seven states now require CPR training as a graduation requirement, according to the American Heart Association.

Barb and Bill Rafaill, Albion residents, say they believe so much in the law that they donated CPR kits to schools in both Calhoun and Oceana counties to support it.

“I know lives can be saved,” Barb Rafaill said. “It’s just a matter of education.”

The survival rate after cardiac arrests that occur outside of a hospital is just 11 percent, often because bystanders do not know how to help, according to the American Heart Association. The agency’s hope is that the law will increase the number of people who can perform CPR and intervene in emergencies.  

“Approximately 70 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in residences, so this requirement will help put people with knowledge of CPR in the places where it’s most likely to happen,” said Cindy Bouma, the association’s communications director for western Michigan.

“If you increase the amount of people who are trained and capable of performing CPR, you increase the likelihood that a bystander will be able to intervene until emergency responders arrive,” Schuitmaker said.

Under the law, students will receive hands-only training, meaning they will learn chest compressions. They won’t be required to perform mouth-to-mouth, according to the association. Hands-only CPR can be taught in as little as 30 minutes, depending on class size, Bouma said.

Students will also learn how to use an automated external defibrillator. That is a device that delivers an electric shock to the heart through the chest and can potentially allow a normal heart rhythm to restart after a cardiac arrest, according to the association.

Schools may use teachers or certified CPR instructors to teach the classes. Teachers do not have to be certified to teach CPR, but if schools want students to get a certification they must be taught by certified instructors. Teachers would need training, but schools can take advantage of volunteers such as paramedics and firefighters who have already been properly trained.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Shawn Walbecq, the kindergarten through 12th grade principal for Suttons Bay Area Public Schools. “The more people that know the techniques,  the better.”

Walbecq said he plans to use local services for teaching CPR in his schools.

“We’re a small community,” he said. “Local paramedics have kids who go to school here, and we have their support.”

The Michigan Education Association says the law is a good idea, but that schools should receive government funding to change curriculum and implement the training, said David Crim, a communications consultant for the union.  

The American Heart Association sells and lends kits to help teach the technique or they can get them from local paramedics or firefighters, Bouma said.

Barb Rafaill said she and her husband wanted to do something to bring more attention to the new law, and they encourage others to help the schools in their communities.

“It’s a wonderful idea that young people are being educated in CPR,” Barb Rafaill said. “We wanted to make a difference so schools didn’t have to buy them.”

The American Heart Association expects the training to greatly increase the number of people able to perform CPR.

“We estimate the program will add 100,000 newly trained people every year,” Bouma said. “In five or 10 years, think of how many people there will be who can perform CPR.”

Michigan police, civil rights groups at odds over military equipment for cops

Capital News Service

LANSING — County sheriff departments eager to acquire more aircraft, observation helicopters, camouflage and other military equipment can look forward to more opportunity to acquire them after a federal ban on some surplus was lifted.

“President Trump’s actions enable law enforcement to provide tools and equipment that comes through the federal government at little to no cost that we cannot afford on a local basis,” said Tim Parker, the sheriff of Hillsdale County.

While this reverses the federal government’s position and allows police more access to such equipment, the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights says it is a step away from improving police-community relations.

“For the Trump administration to lift the ban really sends the wrong message to law enforcement that they more or less have a free hand to engage militarized tactics in civilian populations,” said Abayomi Azikiwe, a coalition board member.

The new plan announced Aug. 28 rolls back a 2015 Obama administration restriction issued in response to criticism over police use of military-style gear by police during the Ferguson, Missouri, riots more than three years ago.

The new order eases restrictions on giving police equipment like tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, grenade launchers and other military-grade supplies.

Police say the discussion about using military equipment has focused on need rather than the advantages it could bring in special cases, and they say it needs a shift in perspective.

“The whole issue, we think from a law enforcement’s perspective, has been framed incorrectly,” said Robert Stevenson, the executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police. “Yes, it’s surplus equipment the military has that they’re giving to police departments. But anyone can buy this stuff on the market.”

And most of the equipment isn’t used the same way it was by the military.

Police use bayonets as cutting tools in medical kits and for ceremonial purposes, Stevenson said. Grenade launchers are used to disperse unruly crowds with tear gas. And a lot of what is acquired is cold- and warm-weather clothing, at a time, when “police department budgets were decimated,” Stevenson said.

“Most of this stuff won’t ever be used, but it’s an insurance policy,” he said.

In September 2012, the West Bloomfield Police Department used military armored vehicles and robots in a firefight with a barricaded gunman.

“An officer was killed by a barricaded gunman, who was shooting an automatic weapon, striking neighbors homes,” said Mike Bouchard, the Oakland County sheriff.

Armored vehicles and robots assisted in the safe evacuation of neighbors during the firefight.

“The fact of the matter is, these are life-saving equipment. Now we hope we never have to use them, but in our business, that’s not a strategy. Preparation is,” Bouchard said.

In 1997, Congress authorized the Department of Defense to repurpose tax-funded military equipment for police to use at no charge.

“That has already been paid for once. So the question is, ‘do you want to have the taxpayer pay for it twice, or repurpose it and use it in the domestic market?’” said the executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association, Blaine Koops.

Bouchard said Oakland County spent $350,000 on a new armored vehicle after losing its vehicle donated by the military after Obama’s executive order in January 2016,.

Hillsdale County may not be getting armored vehicles anytime soon, but Parker, the sheriff, said it’s good the opportunity is available.

“It is an extreme asset to local communities to have these tools are available,” he said.

In Marquette County,  with fewer than 70,000 people, some police chiefs do not see the need for military equipment.

“We don’t take advantage of that program too much,” Marquette County Sheriff Gregory Zyburt said. “I think the department received some rifles a while back, but not a lot since. There aren’t a lot of situations up here where that kind of equipment is needed.”

The Federal Defense Logistics Agency reports that Michigan has received more than $43 million of military surplus since 2006. That includes equipment as diverse as vehicles that resist mines, helicopters, bandage kits and flashlights.

An online database, run by Caspio, a software company, lists all surplus donated to law enforcement in Michigan by county. Information about the name, value and quantity of the supplies that was provided is available.

Even with lifting the ban, Koops of the Sheriffs’ Association doesn’t anticipate the equipment getting any more use than before.

“As far as the ban and the release of the ban, it’s really not going to change a lot of our procedures and processing. It’s special use, and that’s what it’s for. It’s for situations that the public may not see,” he said.

Huron, Michigan now clearer than Superior

Capital News Service

LANSING — In a startling turn-about, Lake Superior has lost its championship title as the clearest of the Great Lakes.

Lake Huron — now in first place — and Lake Michigan in the second spot have bumped Superior down to third place, a new study of water clarity in the Upper Great Lakes shows. Lakes Erie and Ontario trail all three.

“This is a change of significant historical and economic importance,” according to the study by scientists at Michigan Technological University, the University of Michigan, University of California Los Angeles and Colorado State University. “More important may be the ecological implications of the large increases in water clarity in lakes Huron and Michigan.”

Those include changes in the distribution and behavior of vertebrates and invertebrates such as spiny water fleas and other crustaceans.

What accounts for the dramatic shift?

The study published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research identified three principal factors:

One is a reduction in phosphorus entering lakes Huron and Michigan, largely from agricultural run-off of fertilizers. Heavy phosphorus levels can create algal blooms, such as the one in western Lake Erie that shut off Toledo’s water supply in 2014.

The second is the proliferation of the invasive quagga mussels that feed on plankton as they filter the water of the lakes. The National Wildlife Federation reports that the estimated 10 trillion quagga and zebra mussels that blanket the lakes’ bottom “have succeeded in doubling water clarity during the past decade.”

While both types of mussels filter water, quaggas have the greater impact because they can survive in deeper and colder waters, said Robert Shuchman, co-director of the Michigan Tech Research Institute in Ann Arbor and a co-author of the study. “Their sheer numbers are the dominant filtering mechanism for water quality.”

The third factor is climate change, which has a more indirect impact on water clarity, Shuchman said.

For example, warming water temperatures in Lake Superior could open the door for the arrival of invasives there, he said. And climate-driven extreme weather events, spring floods and farm field runoff can increase the amount of phosphorus entering rivers that empty into the Great Lakes.

Increased water clarity isn’t necessary a good thing.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, “Clearer water allows sunlight to penetrate to the lake bottom, creating ideal conditions for algae to grow” and thus enables the “growth and spread of deadly algal blooms. Algae foul beaches and cause botulism outbreaks that have killed countless fish and more than 70,000 aquatic birds in the last 10 years.”

In addition, the organization says, “Clear water may look nice to us, but the lack of plankton floating in the water” because of hungry quagga and zebra mussels “means less food for native fish.”

Shuchman said, “It is disruptive to the food web. You go from one-cell algae all the way up to the game fish people like to catch.”

Another negative: Clearer water promotes the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation, a native plant known as Cladophora that resembles angel hair underwater. Shuchman said poor water quality used to limit it to a maximum depth of about 20 feet but improved clarity lets it grow to as deep as 60 feet.

“Storms come in and it literally gets ripped off its root mechanism and then ends up going on the beach,” as has happened at Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore on Lake Michigan. “It smells bad but also caused botulism and some major avian kills of seabirds,” he said.

What happened to my little lake? Invasive species moved in

Capital News Service

LANSING — In 1941, my grandparents built a small cottage on a small lake in northern Michigan. The cottage remains in the family today.

But while the ownership hasn’t changed, the lake has. Like many other inland lakes in Michigan, alien species have invaded ours.

A few years ago, we started spotting clusters of zebra mussels, originally from Russia, clinging to rocks and submerged logs in the lake.

Purple loosestrife, another foreign invader, started popping up along the edges of the water.

More recently, we noticed long, feathery plants rapidly filling in parts of the lake. Eurasian watermilfoil, we were told.

Then we saw a new kind of reed growing along the shoreline of our little lake — a type of phragmites originally from Europe.

Concerned about these unwelcome new residents to the lake, our lake property owners association hired a lake management company to survey it and recommend possible treatment options.
In the course of its survey, the company discovered another recent arrival, tiny freshwater jellyfish. They’re originally from China.

That’s at least five invasive species that have moved into our lake.

The lake management company recommended chemical treatments that knocked back the milfoil and phragmites. Property owners can pull up the purple loosestrife.

We have to cope with the mussels. And we were told the little jellyfish are harmless.

Our lake’s problems with foreign invaders are minor compared to the plight of the Great Lakes.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that more than 180 invasive and non-native species have severely damaged the Great Lakes’ ecosystem — so far.

Although it’s less well-known, many of those invaders also have found their way into Michigan’s 11,000 inland lakes. Many rivers, streams and ponds also are affected.

“Invasive species in inland lakes are a major concern in Michigan. From zebra and quagga mussels to Eurasian watermilfoil to European frogbit, each introduction changes ecosystems and affects recreational opportunities,” said Joanne Foreman, a communications coordinator for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) invasive species program.
The state is heavily involved in spreading the “Clean, Drain, Dry” and “Don’t Dump Your Bait” messages to encourage boaters and anglers to reduce the spread of invasive species to inland waters, Foreman said.

Such efforts may slow the spread of invasives but can’t turn back the clock.
Curly-leaf pondweed, originally from Europe and Asia, came to Michigan’s inland waters about a century ago, said Scott Brown, executive director of the nonprofit Michigan Lake and Stream Association based in Stanton.

Eurasian watermilfoil has been in the state since the late 1940s, Brown said, adding, “It’s had a major effect on the (inland) lakes in the Lower Peninsula.”

And when it comes to battling watermilfoil and other invasives, property owners around the affected inland lakes discover they’re often on their own, Brown said.

So it’s usually up to the local property owners to come up with the money, through voluntary collections or special tax districts, to fight the invaders.

Brown said more has been spent combatting milfoil than any other invasive aquatic species in Michigan.

“It probably presents the greatest threat,” he said.

A 1954 law allows local communities to create special assessment districts. Among other things, these districts authorize communities to raise tax dollars to fight aquatic invaders.

In recent years, the Department of Environmental Quality has been issuing about 4,000 permits annually to combat aquatic nuisances, Brown said. Most of those efforts have been paid for through special assessment districts.

Each year, $30 million to $35 million is spent in Michigan on chemical treatments to control aquatic invaders, he said.

“It’s very sad. These species are irrevocably altering our lakes,” Brown said. “And hundreds of these lakes are going untreated.”

Eurasian watermilfoil was detected in Wexford County’s Lake Mitchell in the 1940s, Brown said. In the mid-1950s, the lake was among the first in the state to get a special tax district to control milfoil and other invasives, he said.

Mark Tonello, a DNR fisheries biologist, surveyed Lake Mitchell and issued a report on it in 2012.

“Lake Mitchell has had a Eurasian milfoil infestation for many years, requiring treatment on an annual basis,” Tonello wrote.

Zebra mussels were found in nearby Lake Cadillac in 2010, he said. They were then documented for the first time in Lake Mitchell in 2011, near the outlet canal that connects the two lakes.

So what should property owners do about their own lakes?

“One thought is to try and keep invasive species out in the first place. The second would be to jump on any invasions early in the process,” Tonello said.

“For example, if Eurasian milfoil shows up in a new lake, you might be able to eradicate it early on. Some exotics you can’t really do anything about — zebra mussels for example. So prevention is pretty important.”

Aquatic invasive species “are as much of a threat to inland lakes as they are in the Great Lakes,” said Andrew Tucker, a scientist who works on invasive species issues with the Nature Conservancy’s Great Lakes Project, which operates from the nonprofit’s Lansing office.

Tucker said Michigan property owners on inland lakes aren’t entirely on their own when it comes to dealing with aquatic invaders.

The state’s Invasive Species Grant Program funds various inland lakes projects, including projects that the Nature Conservancy also is working on to control invasive plants, he said.

“Michigan spends as much as $25 million annually on control of just one species, Eurasian watermilfoil, and much of that is spent on inland lakes,” Tucker said.

He said detection of new invaders in the state’s inland waters, including red swamp crayfish and New Zealand mudsnails, will continue to draw attention and probably resources to Michigan and other Great Lakes states.

TABLE: Michigan counties with the most dairy cows.
1. Huron
2. Calhoun
3. Saginaw
4. Gratiot
5. Ingham
6. Missaukee
7. Ottawa
8. Newaygo
9. Lenawee
10. Eaton

Michigan could become the hot new place for dairies

Capital News Service

LANSING — Climate change may give a big boost to dairy farming in Michigan, a new study of the future for U.S. dairy farms says.

“Dairy production in North America will shift to areas with sufficient rainfall and adequate growing seasons, primarily migrating from the West and Southwest to Great Lakes regions and into the Canadian prairies,” according to Jack Britt, a former Michigan State University professor and now a North Carolina-based industry consultant.

“Dairy farms will relocate to regions that have ample rainfall and suitable climates,” he said in a recent study that looks at dairy farming in 2067. That includes Michigan and Northern Wisconsin.

Michigan has about 1,800 dairy farms, according to United Dairy Industry of Michigan, an industry group. And based on U.S. Department of Agriculture data, the Michigan Milk Producers Association says the state “is home to some of the most efficient cows in the country, ranking second in terms of production per cow.”

Among the 10 counties with the most dairy cows are Ingham, Missaukee, Newaygo, Lenawee and Eaton, according to the Agriculture Department.

Five of the country’s top 10 milk-producing states are in the Great Lakes region: Wisconsin (2), New York (3), Michigan (5), Pennsylvania (6) and Minnesota (8). When it comes to the number of milk cows, Wisconsin is second and New York is third, with Pennsylvania in fifth place, Minnesota in sixth and Michigan in eighth. California ranks first in both categories, according to Statista.

Ernie Birchmeier, a livestock and dairy specialist at the Michigan Farm Bureau, said the state’s dairy industry is already expanding fast, with “a tremendous amount of growth over the last decade.” Michigan accounted for one-third of the industry’s national growth in 2016 “because of the positive climate we have for dairy production.

“We have for the most part a temperate climate that doesn’t stray much from the norms and conducive to growing feed stuffs,” Birchmeier said. “We’re also fortunate that compared to the Southwest we have a much more reliable water source.”

Looking ahead 50 years, Britt predicted that all seasons will become warmer in the upper Midwest and Northeast, and “water demand will increase less in these regions than in almost any other parts of the country.”

That’s bad news for the Southwest and West where the “availability of water for dairy farms will be limited” by late in this century, he wrote in the study.

And in an interview, Britt said rising temperatures will put Michigan, northern Wisconsin and Canada’s prairie provinces in a “sweet spot.”

Dairy farmers should take a long-term view to take advantage of those expected changes: “I’d probably be investing in land,” he said. “I know farmers that are large-scale operators looking at where they’re going to be dairying in 20 or 30 years.”

The Farm Bureau’s Laura Campbell says preparations for climate-related changes are underway among crop growers and other types of livestock farmers as well, whether they attribute their actions to climate change or to “because it’s right for my farm.”

For example, they’re more aware of the impact of changes in precipitation than in the past and how that affects the movement of nutrients on and off of their fields.

“You’ll see most of it in the western Lake Erie Basin” where they’re saying, “We’ve got to do something about algal blooms,” according to Campbell, the organization’s manager of agricultural ecology.

The Farm Bureau’s Birchmeier emphasized, however, that dairy farmers should make decisions based on economic returns “much more so than on climate change expectations.” For example, he noted that Michigan already produces more milk than can be processed in-state, so dairy cooperatives are sending the excess to Wisconsin, Indiana, Kentucky and Pennsylvania for processing.

Meanwhile, Brit predicted other significant changes for the region’s dairy industry, including a doubling of milk production per cow, genetic breakthroughs and growing international markets.

While U.S. demand will likely remain stable, demand will jump in Africa and Asia, which will be home to a projected 81 percent of world population in 50 years, he said. And U.S. dairy farmers need to develop products that meet the needs of those continents.

Order Up: The Bear Claw Cafe has bears everywhere but the menu

Capital News Service

LANSING — The Bear Claw Cafe in Copemish is full of bears. Don’t worry — they’re only decorative. But they are part of a unique diner whose owner wants you to look at the animal differently.

The Bear Claw Cafe sits right off a highway not too far from Manistee in the village of Copemish, population 191.

The cafe is hard to miss. Just follow the bear paws painted on the sidewalk — they’ll lead you right to the front door.

The dining room is small — only 10 tables or so — but it has a lot of bears. Teddy bears hang from the banisters, carved wooden bears sit on tables and Polaroids of bears cover walls.

Scott Grant, the café’s owner and operator, describes some of the bear-themed decorations.
“These here are local sightings here in the area of bear that people have gotten to take pictures of,” Grant said. “This guy right here, he’s probably pushing 600 pounds.”

Grant’s not picky when it comes to decorations.

“It’s not hard, anything black bear,” he says. “There’s a story behind most of them.”

Looking around, you might expect a live bear to be flipping your pancakes. In fact, the only thing without bears is the menu, unless you count the burger named after one. “In the fall and in the spring we do a Kodiak Bear Challenge here, which is a 6½-pound burger. You have an hour to eat it. If you eat it, it’s yours. If not, it’s 23 bucks.”

Grant’s passion for bears goes back to when he was a kid, hunting with his family, but he hasn’t gone lately. That’s because in Northwest Michigan, it can take more than a decade to get a bear hunting license. Because of that challenge, a lot of other hunters are eager to shoot a bear, but not him.

The last time he went bear hunting, more than 20 years ago, Grant had a chance to shoot a bear but he says he didn’t want to.

“It just wasn’t what I wanted. I knew that bear was in good shape, and it would probably live for a lot of years, and it was just too small for me,” he said. “It wouldn’t even have made a throw rug. I’m looking for something that will cover my dining room.”

Grant’s other passion is food. After working as a chef in Grand Rapids for more than 25 years, he retired and moved to Copemish. But he couldn’t stay away from the kitchen, so he bought some property and opened the Bear Claw Cafe.

Everything he serves is made from scratch, from the gravy to the bear claws themselves.
“Hanging above my door is my philosophy — ‘simple foods cooked right are delicious’ — and that’s what we do here. Everything is homemade,” Grant said.

Customers may come in for the food, but he wants them to leave with some knowledge.
“People ask me about bear all the time, and I tell them the same thing I’m telling you –you really don’t have to fear bear,” Grant said.

This story was produced under a partnership with Interlochen Public Radio and Great Lakes Echo.