“American principle: the things we have in common are more important than the things that divide us.”
–Joe Klein, Time magazine columnist
Immigration, not Obamacare, is the hottest national issue and we won’t have an opportunity to vote on it this November. Democrats and Republicans are dodging it.
For most of U.S. history, opposition to immigration was mostly about religion–Catholicism and Judaism. For the past half century it’s been mostly about race–Mexicans and other Latinos.
“Nativists,” those opposed to immigration of all political brands, have gotten especially noisy the past few months because of the unexpected arrival of thousands of terrified Central American youth who fled because of homeland violence and possibly a misapplied U.S. immigration directive. In any case, the “secure our borders” concern is great enough for the president to postpone his expanded immigration rights.
The Pew Research Center estimates that unauthorized immigrants make up more than five percent of the American workforce, or roughly one in 20 workers. Nearly half of all unauthorized adult immigrants live in households with children under 18; more than 60 percent of them have been in the U.S. for more than a decade.
My experience at Horizonte, Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school and adult education provider, where 70 percent of students are Latino, shows me these folks yearn to be participating, contributing Americans. Their futures are the most uncertain of all living in the U.S. They with their education and skills anxiously and patiently await productive release.
Economic analysis concludes immigration is a net plus for our economy. “Give us…your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free” has been at the heart of American exception, along with democracy and freedom,” Time columnist Klein stresses. Not allowing these new Americans to fulfill their potential by becoming an even more integral part of our great “melting pot” is a collective shame.