New Report Details Metro Detroit’s Hidden Immigrant Communities


DETROOIT — Two Detroit-based organizations, Global Detroit and Data Driven Detroit, have released a significant report regarding the geographic distribution and social characteristics of the foreign-born populations of the greater metro Detroit (Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties). Sponsored by Fragomen, an international law firm, and compiled by Global Detroit staff, the maps presented in the report provide a detailed look into the region’s immigrant populations, chronicling them by continent, geographic region, and in some cases, the individual nation of origin, as well as providing a county-by-county snapshot.

“Much like the original Global Detroit study documenting the tremendous economic and job creation contributions of the immigrant population in metro Detroit, this demographic analysis sheds new light on our region’s experience with immigration,” said Global Detroit Director Steve Tobocman. “During this Fourth of July season, it is important to remember what made America great. Immigrants have helped the United States flourish and stay competitive in an ever-changing world of global competition.”

The report sheds light on several revealing facts, including:

  • Metro Detroit’s foreign-born communities are diverse. Metro Detroit’s immigrants come from a wide array of countries. In fact, India, the largest single nation of origin for the foreign-born in Metro Detroit, accounts for only 11.5 percent of all of the foreign-born. The top five countries of origin (India, Mexico, Iraq, Canada, and Lebanon) account for less than 40 percent of the total. The top ten countries make up less than 60 percent.
  •   The international community or foreign-born make up a sizable portion of the region. In fact, there are more foreign-born as the entire population of Washtenaw County and more than twice the population of any one city in the region, except Detroit.
  • Immigrants are spread throughout the region, making every part of it diverse, to a limited extent. The vast spatial distribution of immigrant populations throughout the region creates fewer identifiable ethnic clusters and may contribute to immigrant and refugee group feelings of “invisibility.” No one group or national identity dominates immigration to the region. Thus, the foreign-born are a diverse group made up of scores of nationalities.
  • Detroit is home to a much less concentrated population of immigrants (around 4 percent) than the average for the metro region (over 8 percent). Given the nation’s and region’s rapid immigration growth, low immigrant attraction rates suggest that the city lacks one of the most important sources of American urban population stabilization—immigration.
  • Immigrants are far from a drag on the regional economy and contain numerous groups and residents with tremendous economic, earning, and job creation power.

“Through this report, we are presenting an idea as to how the foreign-born populations live and work. Their strengths and weaknesses are highlighted in order to show what services are needed and how the region can best design economic, social, and other policies and programs to benefit local communities,” said Kurt Metzger, director of Data Driven Detroit. “Given the importance of international migration to regional population growth, this is an issue that the city of Detroit must consider if they are serious about stabilizing population loss,” Metzger added.

Global Detroit and Data Driven Detroit hope that nonprofit organizations, business groups, media, and government throughout the region will be able to use this data to better interact with the foreign-born communities in their areas, guide their policies, and aide in local economic development.  The report can be found at and the Global Detroit website contains more than 100 additional maps that lay out where immigrants from specific countries of origin live in the region.

Global Detroit also announced the launch of a Tumblr site that will enable Metro Detroiters to tell their own immigration and ethnic community stories. The Global Detroit Tumblr site can be found at

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Related Articles

Detroit Pistons and Henry Ford Health System Partner on Training, Rehab, and Sports Medicine Complex  

The Detroit Pistons and Henry Ford Health System today announced plans to build a new 100,000-square-foot training, rehabilitation, and sports medicine complex in Detroit’s New Center area. The site is bordered by Amsterdam Street, Second and Third Avenues, and a set of railroad tracks to the north. Construction is expected to begin this summer.

Ford Invests $1B in Argo AI, Works Towards Leading Autonomous Vehicle Market

Dearborn-based automaker Ford Motor Co. today announced a $1 billion investment in Pittsburgh-based Argo AI over the next five years, to develop a virtual driver system for the autonomous vehicle Ford has planned for 2021, and for potential licensing opportunities.

Meridian Winter Blast Set to Coincide With North American International Auto Show

The thirteenth annual Meridian Winter Blast, presented by Quicken Loans, has been moved up several weeks and is now scheduled to coincide with the final weekend of the North American International Auto Show — January 20-22.

Detroit Pistons to Move to Downtown in 2017, will Generate Additional $596.2M in Economic Impact

Agreements under which the Pistons will move to downtown Detroit and begin playing next season at the new Little Caesars Arena in The District Detroit, a $1.2 billion sports and entertainment development, have been announced today.

Ford, UAW-Ford Invest $6M in Motown Museum Expansion

In what will distinguish the company and the union as the lead donor for the project, Ford Motor Co. and UAW-Ford have announced plans to make a $6 million investment in the Detroit-based Motown Museum’s $50 million expansion.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Detroit to Redevelop Vacant Catholic School into Mixed-Income Housing
    The City of Detroit plans to transform the vacant Transfiguration School in the Banglatown...
  2. BLOG: How Corporate Social Responsibility Strategies Can Attract Business Talent in Michigan
    In recent years, both public and private sector leaders in Michigan have grown familiar with the...
  3. No More Free Ride: Uber and Lyft Now Regulated Under State Law
    Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing applications defined as Transportation Network Companies (TNC)...
  4. Ford Invention Provides Drinking Water From Air Conditioner
    Two of Dearborn automaker Ford Motor Co.’s engineers developed the idea for On-The-Go H20, a...
  5. Lineage Logistics and Paragon Metals to Invest Combined $28M in Michigan
    Two business expansions that will generate more than $28 million in total investment and create...
  6. U.S. Army Seeking New Technology Partners for Combat Vehicle Prototype
    The U.S. Army TARDEC in Warren is looking for new, innovative engineering organizations from...