Friday, May 25, 2007

Guess the Speaker

A very well-known American, idolized by many and taken as a role model by several declared Presidential candidates, had the following views on immigration:
I . . . have thought of America as a place in the divine scheme of things that was set aside as a promised land . . . [A]nd the price of admission was very simple . . . Any place in the world and any person from these places; any person with the courage, with the desire to tear up their roots, to strive for freedom, to attempt and dare to live in a strange and foreign place, to travel halfway across the world was welcome here . . . I believe that God in shedding his grace on this country has always in this divine scheme of things kept an eye on our land and guided it as a promised land for these people.

40 years later, after a long career observing the political scene, his views had not changed. Still, he believed that America's immigration policy should make our nation open to people--of all backgrounds, colors, and creeds--who decided that wanted to make their new home in America:
I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.

Who was this man? Answer here.

1 comment:

PG said...

I would love to see the Reagan policy of enforcement against employers who hire undocumented workers become the centerpiece of the current Republican (and Democratic) candidates' proposals for reform. Along with amnesty, the 1986 IRCA put in harsh sanctions against employers who hired illegal immigrants, on the theory that if sanctions were heavy and frequent enough, the cost-benefit analysis would shift and employers would no longer see hiring illegal immigrants as profitable. (The IRCA also was supposed to increase the resources for Border Control, but given that increasing border control seems to be another way to say "let's play shoot the illegal immigrant," I'm not so much a fan of that.)

Unfortunately, neither side seems interested in making villains of their constituents. Given how many middle-class Americans have hired illegal immigrants for domestic work or days jobs, and how many large corporations have hired them as a necessary part of their workforce, bringing meaningful sanctions -- especially any criminal ones -- against employers isn't politically plausible. As a believer in demand-side economics on this issue (if employers aren't hiring, illegal immigrants wouldn't come to the U.S.; anyone who's here for welfare instead of work would be much better off in Canada), I see all the attempts to stem the supply of undocumented labor as futile. It's really unfortunate, because if employers had to deal with a more limited labor pool, they would become a political force for increasing the number of work visas issued. As it is, the same people who condemn illegal immigration out of one side of their mouths will hire undocumented workers to mow their lawns, clean their houses or even work on a daily basis for their companies.