While reporting this story, I had in mind the post I wrote a few weeks ago about Canada's approach to immigration, compared to that of the United States as a whole. My impression there was that Canada's immigration policy--which seems to be working well for both foreign- and native-born Canadians--is driven by policy but also geography. That is, Canada has huge buffers from migrant-sending countries, in the forms of the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the United States. This allows the government to mostly limit migration to the authorized variety, so it can put in place policies that help screen for immigrants who are likely to be economically productive and programs that facilitate language acquisition, access to financial services, and so on. I wonder if the geographic factor is a necessary condition for the policy approach, though.
Minnesota is somewhat similar in that it's physically removed from the sources of migration and is therefore able to more carefully track and engage its new arrivals. Looking at that state raises the question of whether it would be possible to have a more state-by-state approach to immigration--for Michigan to issue visas that would authorize the recipients to work in Detroit, for example--or whether the porousness of state borders and the more fraught national political climate preclude such strategies.