Many of the problems affecting America’s modern pro-immigration movement were evident during the recent May Day rallies. Unless addressed, they will condemn immigration efforts to failure. Since I sympathize with the activists’ overall goals, I would like to offer some advice.
One, be pro-American. Whatever you do, do not wave Mexican, Guatemalan, or any other flag at your protests. Remember, you want to stay in the United States, not go back to your native countries.
Two, reject the political Left’s multiculturalist propaganda. The United States is a melting pot that has melded a uniquely American culture from myriad national influences. American culture is dynamic because newcomers do their best to assimilate. Americans are keenly aware of multiculturalism’s balkanizing influence in some European nations. They do not want it here.
Three, do not deride America as bad and unjust. No doubt, immigration raids and deportations are traumatic and devastating. But if your goal is to stay in the U.S. to work and provide for your family, blame the government’s policies, not the nation.
Four, appeal to Americans’ self interest. Explain why immigration is good for America. Highlight the stories of immigrant entrepreneurs like Metin Ozen, founder of Ozen Engineering. Or the fact that 40 percent of U.S. science and engineering Ph.D.s are foreign-born. Or that 24 percent of all international patents filed form the U.S. listed a foreign worker as an inventor or co-inventor. Or that immigrants pay more in taxes than they receive in government benefits.
Five, make it clear that you want to follow the law. Without a doubt, America’s immigration laws are broken. For most illegal immigrants, sneaking into the country is the only way to get here. But Americans, rightly, have great respect for our laws and institutions. Point out that immigrants commit fewer crimes, on average, than native born Americans. This should be easy to do—the U.S. is enjoying its lowest crime rates since the 1950s.
Six, don’t blame the free market, and focus on reforming bad immigration laws. Capitalism is the reason America is a rich desirable place to live. Were entrepreneurs allowed to operate freely and without restraint, they would be able to hire anybody they want from anywhere in the world.
Ignore these simple truths, and you will fail to reform America’s broken immigration regime. The late economist Julian Simon rightly called people “the ultimate resource”—and that is true regardless of national origin. A steady flow of immigrants, and their labor, ideas, and innovations, will help reinvigorate America’s economy, as those immigrants help themselves.