Western US, Canada, discuss technology and immigration

Leaders of eight western US states and three Canadian provinces focused on internationalization and immigration on 12 June. The leaders met to search for ways to build their regional economies and find solutions to problems that include increased demands for health care and education.

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer said western states are not only competing with each other for high-tech businesses, but with countries like India, as technology breaks down barriers to trade. Due to broadband, experts said, technology can be in Montana or North Dakota just as easily as in Silicon Valley.

While they need immigrants to work in the technology field, the western states also said they face special challenges due to immigration.

Colorado Gov. Bill Owens said western states are being swamped with demands on health care and education from immigrants, and the West cannot look to other states for solutions.

Owens said many western states are forced to focus on basics like English education in school districts where up to 50 percent of the students are undocumented aliens, instead of math and science that will provide better jobs.

Canadian Premier Gary Doer of Manitoba said Canada also shares its future of the West.