How different would the USA be if we weren’t a land of immigrants? (you could say that if no one ever migrated the land would be mainly inhabited by the Cherokee, Iroquois, and so forth, but for this purpose, let us imagine what USA would be like with no immigration after the Revolution).
Think about all the things that are so mainstream that come other cultures, but that have become so pervasive, we couldn’t imagine our lives without them.
Think about all the things you enjoy on a daily basis— from morning to night… Coffee. Google. Tea. Your favorite sushi or Chinese restaurant. Yoga.
- Do you use Google? One of Google’s inventors is a Russian immigrant.
- Do you own an Apple product? According to Wikipedia, Steve Jobs’ parents were of Swiss Catholic and Syrian descent, and his adoptive parents were Armenian American.
- Who does your dry cleaning?
- Who babysits your children?
- Did you order takeout? Who made it? Who delivered it?
- Did you cook ? Who picked your vegetables? Who packed your chicken?
- Did you go food shopping? Who stocked the shelves? Who cleaned the mess in aisle 5? Who worked the deli counter?
- Who drove the bus? Who drove your cab?
- Who fixed your broken heater?
- Who fixed your leaky pipe?
Can you answer all of these questions by saying that you know, without a doubt, that these tasks were fulfilled by non immigrant Americans, or Americans whose ancestors came in colonial times? Probably not…
If immigration had ended after the revolutionary War,we’d probably be drinking tea, not coffee.We wouldn’t know what yoga is. We wouldn’t eat pizza, chocolate or sushi. We’d be eating Xmas pudding and porridge.
If we did not have immigration and diversity, this wouldn’t be the United States that we are today. Out of our diversity comes our beauty and our strength. The fact that so many people from so many different backgrounds can live together, can come together to create, innovate, and make change… it is truly unique to these United States.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa calls immigration reform an “economic imperative”: “If we bring these people — 11 million people — out of the dark and into the light, it’s about a $1.5 trillion impact to the U.S. economy,” he said. “The DREAMers alone — a $329 million impact.” I hate to be cynical, but, if for nothing else, perhaps Congress can wake up and smell the dollars… it is time to bring people out of the shadows for the economic growth that they can spur.
I hope Democrats and Republicans realize the strength of immigrants, realize that it is time for comprehensive immigration reform, including a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, because they are ambitious, determined and have big dreams (not pun intended!) If given the opportunities, they can and will go far. Dreamers can be future scientists, doctors, nurses, teachers, creators and innovators… and that is truly American.