Because so few of us can trace our roots to the original Americans, we consider ourselves a nation of immigrants. For centuries now, people have come to our country to find better lives for themselves and their families. According to a population study in 2018, about 90 million people in America (28 percent of the population) are either immigrants or the U.S. born children of immigrants, and the vast majority are here legally. Another survey found that two out of every five Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children. And in Guilford County, we’ve benefitted from being the home of two refugee resettlement agencies: World Relief Triad in High Point and the now-closed Lutheran Family Services in Greensboro.
Clearly, our country is richer for their presence here. Yet today, our immigration system seeks to disenfranchise many newcomers by preventing them from fully participating in all that America offers. Across the country, immigrants are victims of unfair labor practices; detained by law enforcement with no cause given; and subject to unlawful search and seizures. Our immigration system is in desperate need of reform.
Finding Common Ground seeks ways to support immigrants who contribute to American society. One way to make that happen is by simplifying the immigration process. According to the American Immigration Council, immigration in the United States is a complex system that confuses immigrants and natural-born residents alike.
We support the position taken by the George H. Bush Presidential Center, which argues that it should be easier for people to find legal pathways into our country. Among the Bush Center’s recommendations to Congress that we support:
Change the goal of immigration from family reunification to employment-based migration.
Expand the highly-skilled visa program.
Eliminate the caps on the number of immigrants per country.
Overhaul programs that provide temporary works with visas
Create a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Here’s a look at some of the other ideas we support:
Overhaul of Immigration system and it process.
Give Dreamers permanent legal status
We support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, created in 2014; the Dream Act, which has never been passed by Congress; and other policies that protect the so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. Unfortunately, the Trump administration suspended DACA — and had to be stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court from ending the program. The unfortunate result of threats to DACA and failure to pass the Dream Act are tens of thousands of productive young adults living under the threat of deportation.
We urge the Biden administration to restore the DACA program and we urge Congress to pass the Dream Act.
Stop ‘putting kids in cages’
The policy of family separations at the U.S./Mexico border is cruel, inhumane and anti-American. We’ve all seen images of children shrieking in terror as they’re ripped from their parents, then warehoused in detention facilities for months on end — some in cages. As of October 2020, 545 of them had yet to be reunited with their families.
We think it goes without saying that the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy toward family separations should be reversed, and that the U.S. must vow to never again repeat this ugly chapter of American history. With that, we are in agreement with the American Bar Association; all five former First Ladies; the leaders of Microsoft, Google, Apple and Facebook; and the Academy of American Pediatrics.
Finding Common Ground
According to the Pew Research Center, 62 percent of Americans believe that immigrants strengthen the country. Given this overwhelming support, we must find a way to treat immigrants with respect and dignity, while working on a system that makes it easier for them to take advantage of all that America has to offer.