President Donald Trump recently asked Congress to resolve the controversy over the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, and ongoing immigration debacle.
Trump’s DACA edict is splitting the GOP wide open, leaving some Republican lawmakers prey to a primary challenge by ultra-conservative candidates whose campaigns will be funded by far-right Breitbart and the Koch Brothers. However, the president’s “fix it” request has given Democrats and centrists, like me, some hope.
We are a nation of immigrants. Joe Biden, former U.S. vice president, may have summarized it best: “You cannot define Americans by what they look like, where they come from, whom they love or how they worship. Only our democratic values define us. And if we lose sight of this in our conduct at home or abroad, we jeopardize the respect that has made the United States the greatest nation on earth.”
In Iowa, 15,662 of our 3.138 million population are indigenous Native American and Alaska Natives. Since the remaining 99.5 percent of Iowans are, technically, descendants of an immigrant family, it is ironic when the benefits of immigration are questioned.
Documented legal immigration is essential for America’s prosperity for several good reasons: Immigration is good for job creation as immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business than non-immigrants, and 4.7 million Americans are employed by immigrant-owned small businesses. Twenty-five percent of all technology-based startups have an immigrant founder. Neighborhoods with greater concentration of immigrants have lower rates of crime and violence than comparable nonimmigrant neighborhoods. Social Security’s trustees report regulated immigration would increase funding for Social Security by $4.6 trillion over the next 75 years.
Four bipartisan solutions await our U.S. congressional delegates:
First, a whopping 90 percent of Americans, up from 73 percent one year ago, said America’s 11 million undocumented immigrants who have been in this country for a number of years, hold a job, speak English and are willing to pay any back taxes should stay in the United States and apply for citizenship, according to ORC International.
Secondly, a third of employers are having difficulty filling job vacancies, particularly in STEM occupations (i.e., science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). A vast majority of Americans approve the government expanding the H1-B visa system for high-skilled foreign workers and allowing these workers to become naturalized citizens, according to Cohen Research Group.
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Third, U.S. farms are having severe labor shortages as the number of incoming immigrants has been dramatically decreasing. Two-thirds of Americans support expanding seasonal or annual guest worker visa programs, also according to Cohen Research.
Nearly 6 million unfilled jobs require special work skills. I approve of Trump’s plan to help fix this employment problem through more vocational-technical education and trade training. Trump also wants to cut our legal immigrants from a million a year to 500,000.
And fourth, another bipartisan solution avails itself if Democrats tell Republicans that they’ll agree to Trump’s training plan and legal immigration cut back proposal if the Republicans can agree with 72 percent of Americans that the registered 790,000 DACA children can remain here and apply for legal status.
Since the odds are great you are a descendent of an immigrant family and feel privileged to live in a country founded by immigrants, contact your U.S. representative and both senators to request they seriously consider these four proposals and introduce bipartisan legislation to solve our DACA and long overdue immigration reform situation.
• Steve Corbin is professor emeritus of marketing at the University of Northern Iowa and a district leader in Iowa for the non-partisan and nonprofit group No Labels. Comments: Steven.B.Corbin@gmail.com.