Coming from Battle Creek, Michigan, Ian Magnuson is a second-year student in Michigan State University’s Master of Public Policy program. Ian graduated from Western Michigan University with a double major in German and Global and International Studies, followed-up by a year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Germany.
As part of the program’s experiential learning component, Ian participated in MSU’s InnovateGov program, which combines an impact-driven internship with supporting class material to leave a lasting mark on the City of Detroit. Ian had the unique opportunity to intern with a state agency that has an office in the city, the Michigan Office for New Americans, or as it’s colloquially known, MONA.
Housed in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, MONA is tasked with promoting Michigan as a welcoming state to immigrant (i.e. New American) talent through economic empowerment.
Ian’s task was to evaluate the impact of the President’s executive action on immigration enforcement priorities on Michigan’s agricultural sector via the migrant labor population. In order to determine this, he interviewed stakeholders involved in Michigan’s $100+ billion agricultural sector, including MSU Extension, the Michigan Farm Bureau, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, and the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center. After conducting the interviews, Ian synthesized his findings with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and MDHHS to create a report for the Deputy Director of MONA, and MSU alumna, Karen Phillippi.
Broadly speaking, Ian concluded that while it was certainly possible that the executive order had had some impact on Michigan farms, the effect was likely drowned out by much larger demographic shifts in the traditional migrant worker labor pool. With an aging population and improvements in educational attainment of migrant families, there are simply fewer people willing to do field labor than in prior decades. It was difficult to discern the exact status of 2017’s harvest as the report was conducted in the middle of the season but there were trends going back at least 10 years showing a significant shortage of willing labor, including domestic and immigrant populations.
Upon graduation, Ian aspires to be involved in local and state government, perhaps through a career in city management. In addition to internationalizing cities, Ian is passionate about developing and, more importantly, enacting climate resiliency and mitigation efforts in cities in the Great Lakes region. He is currently looking at a number of fellowships around the country that would give him leadership experience in the public sector that he could bring back to Michigan.