By Felicia Persaud
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 22, 2011: It’s really about time! After months of harping in this column that the economic aspects of immigration and immigrants contribution to the continued growth and development should become the cornerstone of the push for immigration reform, a federal lawmaker has finally gotten the message.
New York Senator, Chuck Schumer, on July 18th said he’s now hoping to focus on the economic argument for an immigration overhaul in the U.S. as he tried to revive the push for comprehensive immigration reform.
My comment: “It’s about time!”
Really! It’s the most obvious fact that Democrats and President Obama have sat on for too long and allowed right wing nuts to turn the issue into one of cleansing the U.S. of the largely brown and black “illegal alien” intruders, who 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 26th hearing was set to hear from New York Mayor, Mike 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 legal immigration of high-skilled workers.
The hearing comes on the heels of the “The “New American” Fortune 500,” by 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. This same 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 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 many farmers, whose livelihood could be threatened by laws such as those in Alabama and Georgia that now are threatened by heightened state-wide laws 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 and it is why federal lawmakers like Schumer and other must step up to the plate and make an economic push on why immigration reform should happen sooner rather than later.
Even though as Schumer himself noted: “Immigration is a rough road and I’m making no predictions, but (the talks) are clearly not dead,” we have to keep 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.