It’s really about time! After months of harping in this column that the economic aspects of immigration and immigrants’ contributions to the continued growth and development of this country should be the cornerstone of the push for immigration reform, a federal lawmaker has finally gotten the message.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said on July 18 that he’s now hoping to focus on the economic argument for an immigration overhaul in the U.S. as he tries to revive the push for comprehensive immigration reform.
My comment: “It’s about time!”
Really! This is the most obvious fact that the Democrats and President Barack Obama have sat on for too long, allowing right-wing nuts to turn the issue into one of cleansing the U.S. of the largely Brown and Black “illegal alien” intruders they view as taking over.
“We decided we ought to start highlighting the fact that immigration creates jobs rather than takes them away,” Schumer, the No. 3 Senate leader, was quoted by Politico as saying. “Everyone agreed that is how we are going to start talking about immigration: as a job creator.”
A July 26 hearing heard from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; NASDAQ chief Robert Greifield; Cornell University President David Skorton; Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith; and Amgen Medical Director Puneet Arora, who is testifying in his role as a leader of Immigration Voice, which favors boosting the legal immigration of highly skilled workers.
The hearing came on the heels of the “The ‘New American’ Fortune 500,” from the Partnership for a New American Economy, which found that more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies in the U.S. were founded by immigrants or their children. The report highlighted the fact that many of America’s greatest brands-Apple, Google, AT&T, Budweiser, Colgate, eBay, General Electric, IBM, and McDonald’s, to name just a few-owe their origin to a founder who was an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.
And while these individuals scheduled to speak at the hearing are undoubtedly great proponents for reform, let’s not forget the many farmers, contractors and small business owners across America, especially in states like Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Florida and Texas, who depend on immigrant labor to keep afloat.
Congress must also hear from the farmers whose livelihood could be threatened by laws such as those in Alabama and Georgia that are driving immigrants away.
“Farmers are law-abiding citizens,” said Jeff Helm, spokesman for the Alabama Farmers Federation, which represents 48,000 farmers. “They want to do what is right. But they are concerned-one, that even the workers who are here legally would flee the state out of concern for what the law means, and two, farmers [want assurance] that if they follow the law but there’s some breakdown in the system, that they won’t suffer criminal repercussions. We believe these issues are better handled at the federal level.”
Helm is absolutely right. This is why federal lawmakers like Schumer and others must step up to the plate and make an economic push for why immigration reform should happen sooner rather than later.
Even though, as Schumer himself noted, “Immigration is a rough road…I’m making no predictions, but [the talks] are clearly not dead,” we have to stay optimistic that with the right argument and with the bottom line of many of the same supporters of the Right affected, lawmakers will see the need to pass a plan that gives green cards to graduates with degrees and gives work permits to those immigrants living in the shadows but keeping the economic engines churning.
The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.