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Immigration: Stopping History From Repeating Itself

In a recent article in The Week, “Is Biden setting Harris up to fail?,” it was clearly stated and debated that immigration is a political battle that is tough to win.  Appointing Vice President Kamala Harris the point person on immigration issue doesn’t set Ms. Harris up to fail, it sets immigration policy one step closer to success.  How she handles the obstacles that lay ahead may impact her potential bid for a future Presidential candidacy.  But that is not President Biden setting her up for failure, it’s giving a new perspective to an old problem – one exacerbated by the former administration.

When President Trump was sending young people who had made it to the border into tents and camps for months on end, it occurred to me that he could not have found a more effective way to radicalize them.  In doing so, he was giving them every reason to become a future danger to the country they and their families exerted so much effort to get to and which responded by treating that had treated them badly and rejecting ed them, sending them back into the dire straits from which they fled.

As the article states, “(Donald Trump) found some political success by demonizing immigrants and, as president, his policies were deliberately cruel.  But he, too, ultimately failed: Thousands of migrants from Latin American countries continue to weigh the risks and conclude that journeying to the United States is a better option that staying where they are.”  

How might we address the reasons migrants leave those countries, and promote Georgist ideas as a remedy?  Even President Biden stressed to would-be migrants from Central America to “stay home.  Don’t leave your town.”

On a related note, how can Henry George’s hostility toward the Chinese immigrants working in California be defended? He recognized that their willingness to work for low wages drove down wages for their competitors. Part of the answer to both questions might be in Congressman Maguire’s 1895 speech to Congress, which started by addressing with Chinese exclusion, and then pivoted to how George’s remedy could defang the wage problem and create a society in which all could prosper.

These young would-be immigrants may be contributors to the “how do we save Social Security” question, if they get folded into the system.  They’ve surely shown their fortitude, and the desperation of their situations in their native countries.  A huge initiative to educate them, along with the rest of our young people, could turn them into part of the solution to various problems. Look at the Dreamers, who have grown into contributors to our society.

I think of Henry Louis Gates’ Finding Your Roots program, showing us all what our or our neighbors’ immigrant grandparents and great-grandparents faced, both in their countries of origin, and as immigrants in the country to which they came with high hopes and determination.

I agree with the last part of the article in The Week:  To succeed, (Harris) will have to do what no American leader before her has done and master the politics of immigration. 

But, what history has taught us is that we learn from the past (previous generations), should listen to the future (younger generations) to make positive, life-changing policies that impact today’s generation and generations to come.

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