Contrast these two quotations from today’s news:
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen: “We do not have any intention right now to shoot at people.”
U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy III: “Since the beginning, immigration has been an affirmation of our success, not a threat to it. People risk everything to reach this land because they believe in our greatness — our fair laws, our good values, our promises and possibilities. We should not worry when the striving and suffering arrive on our shores; we should worry when they stop coming at all.”
Not only is welcoming immigrants the right thing to do: it pays off. According to a recent study, “Immigrants have started more than half (50 of 91, or 55%)of America’s startup companies valued at $1 billion or more and are key members of management or product development teams in more than 80% of these companies.”
Immigrants are disproportionately represented at top and bottom educational levels. We need all of them. Here’s a story from a Wisconsin dairy farm:
“[Dairy farm worker Roberto] Tecpile said it hurts to hear the president speak poorly about workers like himself. He would like Trump to consider creating a visa for year-round dairy employees. Currently only seasonal agricultural workers can get permission to work here.
“Without workers, the United States is nothing,” Tecpile said. “We don’t come to make problems. We come only to work.”…
“One of the things I hear so often from the current president is, ‘They’re not sending us their best,’ ” [dairy farmer John] Rosenow said. “I’ve been to those villages where our guys are from — and they sent us their best. They sent us the leaders of their communities, they sent us a lawyer, they sent us a medical student … they have great work ethic, they’re honest — people you’d love to have as a neighbor.”
Immigrants build businesses. Immigrants work in agriculture and food processing. Immigrants care for people in nursing homes and hospitals and as personal care attendants enabling seniors and disabled persons to remain in their own homes. With a graying U.S. population, we need immigrants to support our economy.
“When thousands of others fled the struggling Rust Belt city of Buffalo, refugees poured in to fill the void and invigorate the economy.
Blighted blocks were tidied up by new arrivals from Iraq. Shops selling Ethiopian cuisine opened, and employers snapped up workers from Myanmar and South Sudan. More than 12,000 refugees arrived in the area in 10 years, helping stymie decades of dizzying population loss.
“But as the Trump administration throttles the flow of refugees into the United States and the president increases his anti-immigration rhetoric ahead of the midterm elections, Buffalo and other cities that rely on the new arrivals are beginning to feel the pinch.”
And just in case the economic argument isn’t enough, remember this: Immigrants still believe in the American dream. Don’t we need more of that?