Posted: 03/19/17 15:35
by Dave Mindeman
We are getting immigration all wrong. Completely wrong. And unfortunately, with this administration there is little chance to get it right.
There are some key points to consider....
1) Undocumented immigrants have American citizens in their family.
Many came here during hard economic times and established their family in America. One Texas family has the mother and father undocumented, while they have 4 children born here in America. You can argue about whether that was right or wrong - but the Constitution stands behind those children. And to break up that family because we don't have the political will to fix immigration is the bigger wrong.
2) Most immigrants who came illegally are paying their own way.
This argument that undocumenteds are "draining" the system is simply untrue. In fact, many of them have established businesses that are hiring other Americans and giving them a living. There is an example in a small Illinois town where a Mexican restaurant in town has become a popular business. Everyone in town calls the owners friends. They are neighbors. Now, it has been discovered that they entered the US illegally. Again, they have American born children. And even though the town voted Republican, they want to find a way to help them stay. There are many more like this couple. They pay taxes. They contribute to the economy. They pay Social Security that they can never collect. How is this right?
3) They are not taking away American jobs.
As stated above, undocumented immigrants are creating jobs. They work extra hard... establishing businesses, and some take several menial labor jobs at a time, knowing they do not have the safety net that comes from American citizenship. Our labor force is changing. And right now, business is finding that they have a labor shortage. The college level degrees are not matching up well with what business needs. Businesses often go overseas to get the technical trained people they need. And that creates its own set of immigration problems.
4) It is an economically driven cycle.
Over the last few years...and now, the net migration from Mexico (which seems to be Trump's focus) is zero. In fact, more Americans are moving to Mexico than the other way around. But when Mexico's economy takes a downturn, the vibrancy of our economy is an attraction. People still look to the US as a land of opportunity. They come here for jobs, to escape oppression, or to reunite with family. These are not sinister goals. If you are looking to fight terrorism, you are looking at the wrong place. Terrorists will find more covert ways to enter this country. Taking a chance at the southern border is just not one of them. And we should be happy that America is such an attractive place to build a new life. Immigrants built this country. Immigrants brought innovation and new ideas. Immigrants have empathy with the plight of others and strive for that better world. The ebb and flow of economics will always affect immigration cycles. We need to prepare and address that rather than use the baton of law enforcement in a heavy handed way.
5) Undocumented immigrants are not a danger.
Donald Trump has distorted the description of undocumenteds as if they are a burden of crime. This is not even remotely true. Sure you have some that commit violent crimes. But statistically, that part of the population commits less than the rest of us. It is a categorical fact. We all know by now, that Donald Trump makes up his own statistics - so he would never agree. But for the rest of us, we can know this. We cannot take isolated horrible anecdotal incidents and extrapolate that as a common thing across an entire class of people. That is the type of thing done by repressive regimes all around the world. And it is the type of tactic that many of these immigrants have fled from within their original country.
Here is the bottom line. Our immigration system is the problem...along with a dysfunctional Congress. We need to examine this without fearmongering and discriminatory attitudes. We have come close in the past to legislating a solution. We still can, but with Donald Trump as President, it will be very difficult.
The truth is we need more immigrants. We need more innovation. New ideas. Dedicated workers. Business needs them. Our economy needs them. We are moving into a new technological economy that is needing unique skills and new education standards. And a workforce willing to change and innovate.
We need new language skills. More science skills. More computer technology skills. More out of the box thinking. And yes, a desire to dream.
Americans can do this - but we need more diversity to make it move into the future. And we need a complete overhaul of how we do immigration.
There is a framework. It is in the Senate...but even that is now outdated and needs more critical thinking.
This culture of hate is holding us back. We are going to fall behind other established democracies....or, potentially, we are going to drag them down with us and allow China and Russia to surpass us.
We are better than this. WE ARE MUCH BETTER THAN THIS.
Fix immigration. Then move forward to a better future.