To the Editor:
Our nation is still reeling from the economic crisis that came to a head in 2008, and we need to capitalize on every opportunity and avenue we have to aid our economic recovery – not the least of which is immigration reform.
Immigration is one of the greatest foundations upon which the United States was built. Our nation and its history and culture were not molded in total emulation of any one nation or set of values, but rather as a unique amalgamation of experiences and lessons learned throughout all of world history. America has been a destination for hard working, principled immigrants from across the globe – from the colonials prior to Independence to the likes of Albert Einstein and prolific statesman Henry Kissinger, America has always benefited from the inclusion and acceptance of new and aspiring citizens. We become stronger when we attract and open our doors to prosperous and promising people the world over. Even today, nearly 40% of all Fortune 500 companies have been founded by immigrants.
The Statue of Liberty is America’s face to the world, standing at the shore with her light as a beacon, proclaiming in Emma Lazarus’ "The New Colossus" will accept the huddled masses yearning to be free, and that she "lift[s her] lamp beside the golden door." It is a beautiful sentiment, but this golden door has periodically been slammed shut throughout history, much to the detriment of our national interest and humanity. From the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the Gentlemen’s Agreement of 1907 with Japan and beyond, our immigration system has been plagued with periods of suppression and inadequacy that leave millions of people lost in limbo and American industry deprived of hard workers and innovators.
And so it is currently. Our immigration laws leave millions of undocumented workers hiding in a shadow economy and aspiring immigrants overseas lying awake at night, wishing for a better life that they may never have a chance to experience. We should be accepting and welcoming of aspiring Americans, looking to enrich their own lives and that of our nation as a whole. The history of the United States is one of progression, of the constant expansion of inclusiveness and acceptance; one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all – not just for some.
I write to urge Congressman Latham to support the comprehensive immigration reform bill when it comes to the floor of the House of Representatives. The Senate has offered us a compromise bill that, at the very least, addresses some of the inadequacies and unanswered questions that come from our current policies. Immigrants with the drive to become professionals in their field will have greater chance to achieve the education they need and create American jobs – as citizens, as Americans, as I hope to be one day.
West Des Moines