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Immigration is an economic issue

Published: Saturday, Feb. 9 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

Our world has changed, and so must our laws to keep pace with times. Globalization, 9/11, technology, a failing economy, NAFTA, demographics all have made our institutions outdated — immigration policy being one of them.

Brian Nicholson, OKespa–ol

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Our world has changed, and so must our laws to keep pace with times. Globalization, 9/11, technology, a failing economy, NAFTA, demographics all have made our institutions outdated — immigration policy being one of them.

U.S. immigration policy has always been a means of meeting our workforce and economic needs in keeping with our values as an open society. Immigrant labor has been key in building our nation, farms, railroads, mines, businesses and industries. Now, these new events have left our immigration policies ineffective in meeting the demands of a new world economy. America's workplace demands higher skilled, professional, seasonal and agricultural workers to meet today's workforce needs. As a consequence, our immigration policies must respond to the needs of the new economy.

Many see the problem as lack of enforcement and securing our borders, loss of jobs, unemployment and pressure on our municipal services. However, they are symptoms brought about by the new social, economic forces of today's changing world.

America's problems are the economy and our workforce, not simply law enforcement. Merely securing our borders and sending back the 11 million undocumented individuals who came to seek work and respond to the "help wanted" signs put out by U.S. employers is not the solution. America has an aging and less skilled workforce, and needs young, vibrant workers to meet the demands of today's high performance workplace that requires higher knowledge, imagination, innovation, creativity and adaptability to new jobs. Preoccupation with first closing the border ignores that reality and limits our ability to compete in the new economy.

If America is to succeed in today's environment, it must renew its immigration policies and our commitment to the values that built this nation. We must recover the confidence that built our nation, and do what Americans have always done — put our creativity and our can-do attitude to work and look to the resources and opportunities within. We ought to see immigrant workers for what they have always been, a key part of our workforce who bring willingness to risk, work, and new skills and creativity. That calls for the following:

Improve the ability of American employers to hire and retain seasonal, skilled and professional foreign workers; increase the ability for our science and educational institutions to recruit foreign talent.

Allow for youth brought to the U. S. by their parents who are U. S.-educated to become permanent residents so they can strengthen the U.S. workforce. Latinos and other minorities are younger, and eager tocontribute to the U.S. workforce. Revise the DREAM Act.

Create economic opportunities between U.S. and Mexico to develop local economies, create jobs on both sides of the border. The Internet provides the opportunity to cultivate the untapped human talent in the North American continent.

Focus on disrupting and eliminating drug and human trafficking, and money laundering along the U.S. and Mexico border.

Provide a path to citizenship for approximately 11 million undocumented individuals that will improve the U.S. economy and tax base.

Let's deal with causes rather than symptoms for our economic problems. Our world has changed and we must muster the confidence we had to meet the challenges brought about by a now ever-changing world.

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