At some point our country – a nation of immigrants – will have to have a serious conversation about Immigration. On one side is a belief that left unchecked we open ourselves to challenges on security, and risk losing our National Identity. They say that illegal immigration drains our economy as it lowers academic performance and American worker productivity. The other side posits that our diversity makes us stronger as a nation, and that the US has a long and proud history of opening our arms to anyone seeking freedom and a better way of life. For them, the focus should be on improving our immigration laws, not demonizing those who willfully do the work, most of us are unwilling to do.
One side points to the billions of dollars immigrants send back to their home countries instead of circulating back into our already weaken economy. Yet the other side highlights that 40% of the Fortune 500 companies were either created by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant. And that undocumented immigrants alone paid $11.2 billion in US taxes for 2010, while multi-billion dollar American businesses hide their true earnings.
So do we hold people or their children accountable for breaking our laws, while letting employers and society off the hook for exploiting cheap labor? Or do we accept the contributions of us all, accept the varying narratives and biographies that have contributed to one of the strongest nations on Earth?
I, for one, believe we can do it all the above. After all we are the United States of America. We can secure our borders while also securing a future for those who succeed academically, those who rise above and beyond given extraordinary circumstances. We can act on a dream of a more prosperous union, where we value Human Rights for all, where we give dignity to all, and where we hold true to the Founding Fathers’ calling “E Pluribus Unum.” From Many, One.