Wednesday, May 11, 2011

We Need To Embrace Diversity

President Obama flew to El Paso, Texas to make his case for immigration reform.  He was also there to garner votes for his re-election bid.
The President wants to overhaul current immigration laws to open a path toward citizenship for the millions of workers who are here illegally.  His message resonated with the mostly Latino audience.  Latinos typically vote Democrat.
Republicans want to secure our borders and send packing those who are here illegally.  They are not particularly interested in providing a path to citizenship for those who in their view steal our jobs and hurt our economy.  They are also not interested increasing the roles of Latino voters who, as we said, typically vote Democrat.
As usual both of these partisan political arguments miss the greater point.
We are who we are because of immigration.  This melting pot of diversity is what makes us The United States of America.  It is this coming together of different cultures that has spawned the innovation, creativity and work ethic that has made us the most prosperous country in the world.  To cut off the flow of immigrants to this country is to shut off the very life blood of this democracy.
There is no doubt that the system needs to be fixed.  We can no longer afford to have illegal immigrants accessing government services without paying their fair share. 
Providing illegal immigrants with a structured path toward citizenship makes sense.  Contrary to the Republican position, these folks help our economy by performing jobs that most Americans find too menial for wages most Americans deem inadequate.  Take these immigrants out of the workforce and watch the sticker shock at the local A&P. 
While Obama’s plan will be difficult to enforce it has far more upside than the alternative offered by the Republicans.  Using Gestapo tactics to round up between eleven and twenty million suspected illegal immigrants and bus them back to wherever is just not going to happen.  The cost of this draconian effort would be prohibitive; and the resulting violence and unrest, not to mention the economic downturn, will not sit well with the American people.  
It is a phrase too often repeated but nonetheless true…” we are all immigrants.”  All of us trace our roots back to some distant country.  Many of us can still sit with grandparents who passed through Ellis Island in search of a better life.  They brought with them a mosaic of culture, knowledge and experience that makes us…us. 
We need to embrace that diversity not smother it.    

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