Visiting the southern border last week, Vice President Kamala Harris said this:
“We’re talking about children. We’re talking about families. We’re talking about suffering. And our approach has to be thoughtful and effective.”
You could just hear the Republican Party snort.
No reference to drug dealers and rapists? No “hordes”? No “swarms”? Surely she could throw in a “caravan,” and of course “COVID.”
Rest assured Donald Trump will throw in all of them when he visits the border in his civilian role as troll.
Then Gov. Greg Abbott will do the monkey-do thing.
The rhetoric allowed the GOP to look the other way when families were separated at the border and when Trump left office without doing anything to reunite them.
By contrast, President Biden immediately established the Task Force for the Reunification of Families. It has been doing its job, having reunited 36 families so far, with so many left to go. The GOP policy left over 2,000 children and their families in limbo.
Trump and his acolytes will not, cannot, acknowledge the humanity represented by the people seeking asylum or just a better life by crossing the border.
They don’t acknowledge, for instance, how vital immigrants are to our economy and have been for decades, how many have lived sparkling lives among us, their children growing up smart and strong.
They talk about human beings only as a drag on our system, when in fact providing a path to citizenship would change the tax equation in positive ways.
The Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy estimates undocumented individuals pay more than $11.74 billion annually in state and local taxes through a combination of sales taxes and their share of property taxes (through rentals) and payroll taxes.
In 2013, an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office found that legislation to increase immigration and a path to citizenship to millions would provide $459 billion over 10 years based on new collection of income and payroll taxes.
But that wouldn’t be the biggest benefit. That would come in the economic activity of letting a shadow population comport itself proudly in the light of day.
The most dramatic benefit of the 1986 measure signed by President Reagan granting amnesty of 3 million undocumented individuals is that their pay increased 5 to 10 percent over a decade according to several studies.
Attached to that was the peace of mind and sense of permanence by which they could invest in homes and businesses, no longer walking the razor’s edge of deportation. Similarly, their children could strive in school without fear.
As was phrased by one of the authors of a study by the Partnership for a New American Economy that touted economic benefits of immigration – words that should seem second-nature to all Americans – immigration itself is “an entrepreneurial act. Picking up your things, leaving your relatives behind and coming to a new country is about wanting something better for yourself.”
While Trumpians make siren sounds about all those people wanting in on the American miracle, the U.S. Census points to what analysts call “demographic stagnation.” A layman’s definition of that would be an older, less-driven economy.
To change that equation, New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo urges regulating immigration much like we regulate inflation.
Maintaining robust immigration levels, he writes, would “keep America’s ratio of working young people to retired old people stable.”
So, rapists and drug dealers? Or entrepreneurs and doers? Actually, it’s all of the above – the good with the bad – but that applies to the native-born of this nation as well.
We could have North Korea. We could have Iran or Saudi Arabia. We have the United States of America.
The doers and dreamers begat us, even the scoundrels and charlatans among us.
Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.