LatinaLista — President Obama’s attempt yesterday to send the Latino community the message that immigration reform is still on his agenda needs to stop dwelling on that message and focus on a new one that sells the issue to critics.
The new message has to start changing the tone of the conversation from one of “Immigration reform is nothing more than granting amnesty” to “Immigration reform is an economic necessity to get the United States back on a profitable path.”
It’s an assertion that economists and financial analysts have repeated when quizzed about the state of the economy, especially in light of Standard & Poor’s recent negative rating of the nation’s credit credibility.
The fact of the matter is if it were not for the immigrant — undocumented and legal residents — this country would have as bad an outlook as some European and Asian countries who can no longer count on a “next” generation.
For example, in Japan, before the double dose of disasters, the government was paying a 15-year child subsidy credit to every couple who had a child to help boost the population.
It was seen as essential to help their stagnant economy in the long-term. Needless to say, new priorities have arisen.
Economies that are in trouble in Europe are also facing low country birthrates and a diminishing “next” generation. Thanks to Latinos and Latino immigrants, the United States doesn’t have that problem, but it could easily find itself in a worse mess as Europe or Japan if the government doesn’t reform the immigration system and initiate a citizenship process for those undocumented immigrants who want to live in the U.S. permanently and legally work.
Why the urgency?
The unemployment rate stood at 8.8 percent in March 2011. That number is bound to get lower on the heels of McDonald’s announcement to hire 50,000 workers nationwide.
On the surface that amount of jobs sounds like good news, and it is if minimum wage jobs is the goal of this once great country.
Case in point, in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry boasted of bringing the most jobs to the Lone Star State. It’s a badge of honor for him to tout this accomplishment except he conveniently forgets to mention that Texas now holds the distinction of being the number one state in the country with the most minimum wage jobs.
In other words, there are more people flipping burgers than figuring out how to build a space station, cure cancer or create the next Facebook.
Minimum wage jobs are no longer the student’s first rung on the employment ladder into the workforce. It is more commonly becoming the job of high school dropouts or minimally educated people who need a job with benefits that pays enough to barely get by and, oh, has free food as a perk.
While many people have used minimum wage jobs to advance themselves, it’s not the norm like it used to be. Some people are making careers out of minimum-wage jobs.
To combat this trend, there are millions of undocumented immigrants who want to further their education, get specialized training and contribute to this economy that will carry it deeper into the 21st Century with higher paying jobs.
However, to do this these people need to become citizens.
Without trying to sound alarmist, there really isn’t any time to waste.
So why do we act like we have all the time in the world?