It's easy to assume that the only communities in America interested in accomplishing immigration reform this year are Latinos and the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country. Or, to believe that businesses and working U.S. citizens are only vested in this issue to ensure that "illegals" are booted and kept from receiving the dreaded "amnesty." I've heard all the misconceptions and then some.
Let's cast that net much wider and understand that a better, working immigration system can benefit all of us. From the farmer in rural Kansas to the Chicago entrepreneur to the owner of a construction company in northern Virginia, we all stand to gain regardless of our background.
Latinos are part of the great consensus that agree on passing legislation worthy of our country's immigrant past -- they are a part of the "we" who empathize with the fact that we are all members of a blended family. All of our pasts as Americans originate not from the soil where we have planted our roots, but from across the Americas to the many nations of a distinct Africa to the earth that flourished the ideals of European enlightenment. Whether we were born in the United States or not, we are somehow always connected to a foreign land or a friend, family member or coworker who's not from around here.
This is who we are as a country and it is in our nature, unlike any other people in the world, to be entrepreneurs of our destiny. To deny that we have a problem in our immigration system or to deport a driving force of our economy is to simply forgo an opportunity to be a better country. The majority of the American public gets that and so do the unlikeliest of allies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Their reasons for pushing immigration reform are clear-cut. Businesses can grow stronger and more profitable when their entrepreneurs and employees don't have to fear expiration of scarce visas or deportation.
Economic and family needs will be met through a modernized worker visa program that provides for strict compliance with U.S. labor standards including wage and hour standards. It must include portability of visas so that workers can change jobs and allow workers to petition for permanent residency. An independent commission should be created to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are based on actual need. A functioning immigration system also would diminish the incentives to enter our country without documents and fuel an underground economy.
Broadly, Business and Labor understand that our respective goals are intertwined because we will not let our economy be stagnated by old rules or prejudices of the past.
That is not to say that we won't have some issues with the details involved, but the bottom line is that we need a solution now, not another decade from now. We can both agree that we can no longer ignore the millions of undocumented immigrants who deserve a chance at earning a path to citizenship and continue their contributions to our economy at a greater scale. Just imagine what $1.5 trillion $1.5 trillion in cumulative growth to our economy over 10 years would do for our country if we just lifted the veil of questionable-status for our aspiring citizens.
The time is now. There's no drama to our agreement to work together to find a solution; it's simply just the right thing to do for the right reasons. Some political figures and pundits will continue to argue for more border security and hold up the debate or simply say that the problem is not the system, but the people who committed the crime of crossing the border or overstaying their visas.
They ignore the fact that we have invested billions billions in walls and forts without really addressing the underlying causes of migration or the sad and violent conundrum of drug cartels. And when it comes to the undocumented immigrants who are here today and have been here for the more than decade, these new Americans understand they must pay their dues to earn the privilege of officially swearing allegiance to this country; in fact, every day they contribute to our society and economy when they go to work, pay their taxes, go to their place of worship, care for their children who pledge to the American flag in school, and buy homes. They live and breathe Americana without the stamp of citizenship.
We should be past these points of argument.
If the odd fellows odd fellows of Big Business and Labor can try to work together, there is no reason why Congress and the misguided few can't see that we can live up to our forefathers' expectations by fully integrating our immigrant communities into the nation that was built on the ethos of those entrepreneurs that traveled on the Mayflower, the Concord, and other vessels that brought them to our great land.
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