Immigrants built this country into the envy of the world. Future immigrants and their offspring may save us from economic despair. If there is one public policy topic on which left and right should find abundant common ground, it’s immigration.
On the right, conservative legend Ronald Reagan was an unapologetic proponent of more immigration. He referred to anti-immigration hysteria as “the illegal alien fuss.”
“Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion, or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won’t do? One thing is certain in this hungry world: No regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters.”
In Colorado, we saw crops rotting in fields for lack of harvesters one summer last decade after the state legislature passed a law designed to discourage migrant farm labor. Farmers told Colorado media that no reasonable wage was enough to attract and keep local laborers.
George W. Bush, who won two elections with strong Latino support, said: “Not only do immigrants help build our economy, they invigorate our soul.”
From the left, Democratic Florida Rep. Deborah Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the Democratic National Committee, said: “We have 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country that are part of the backbone of our economy and this is not only a reality but a necessity.”
The late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., said: “Immigration is the story of American history. From the earliest days of our nation, generation upon generation of immigrants has come to be part of a land that offers freedom and opportunity to those willing to do their part.”
We cannot allow immigration reform to continue as a political football in the political battle of left vs. right. Too much is at stake for either side to use this issue against the other.
So we thank Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and former Sen. Hank Brown, a Republican, for working with an impressive array of Colorado politicians, business people and religious leaders to resolve this country’s immigration mess.
Bennet and Brown this month unveiled a set of principles, signed by 100 reputable Coloradans, which they hope will guide a national discussion on comprehensive immigration reform. Called the Colorado Compact, the principles resulted from intermittent meetings and conversations over the past year. Among the signors is Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck, the tea party Republican who ran against Bennet.
Compact principles include: Federal government has a responsibility to enact and enforce immigration policy, including border control; immigration laws should strengthen the economy, ensure national security, and support families by keeping them together as much as possible; and that we need commonsense policies that reflect the importance of immigrants and provide a sensible path forward for illegal immigrants. (See full compact at: www.ColoradoCompact.com).
Nothing would please The Gazette more than seeing great Coloradans lead a bipartisan congressional bill to reform immigration. The only source of prosperity — without exception — is the human body and mind. We need to support immigration among those with high character, while protecting the country from a small percentage of immigrants who would travel here to commit crimes and/or subsist off of others.
Thanks to all who devised and signed the Colorado Compact. It represents the attitude we need, on both sides of political aisle, to restore immigration as our country’s greatest cultural and economic asset.