For over two hundred years now, they have come. . . . From Ireland and Poland, from Germany and France. From Mexico and Cuba, they have come. They have come because in the land of their birth, their dreams were bigger than their opportunities.
As Jack Kemp so famously said, “We are a nation of immigrants.” From the Native Americans who crossed the land bridge over what is now the Bering Strait to the apex of European immigration in the early 20th Century (when 13.5 million immigrants were living in the United States), America has always been the land of opportunity.
“We are still the hope of the world” today, and we still need immigrants. We are not producing enough skilled workers to support our high-tech economy and our population is aging. If immigrants had the opportunity, they could fill our high-tech vacancies, expand our workforce, and grow our economy. Without them, we will export more jobs overseas and watch our economy continue to struggle.
We should of course take prudent measures to improve border security and curb illegal entry into the United States. But we should also recognize that fences will not stop those who earnestly seek the American dream any more than the Great Wall of China stopped the Qing (the people who conquered those who built the Great Wall). The best antidote to illegal immigration is a sensible system that provides immigrants with an opportunity to enter and remain in the country legally.
Ideas, not walls, have always been America’s greatest strength. The American dream is our greatest idea and immigration is its legacy. Throughout our history immigrants have energized economic growth and innovation in this country by pursuing freely their dreams for a more prosperous future. We share the same dream, and when we dream it together, America is at its very best.