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Keeping The U.S. Strong Through Immigration

by Jose Latour

Man, you gotta love an immigration attorney's self-serving headline, don't 'cha? (-:

One of the great things is that the folks at FAIR and all those other anti-immigration organizations (especially the one pretending to be something it isn't) have absolutely given up on me. I don't even get the hate mail anymore, not that I miss it.

Since I've been rather critical and objective of late, I thought it was time for some flagrantly good news, courtesy of some stuff sent my way via the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

In an article recently appearing in Barron's entitled "How Immigration Helps Keep the U.S. Competitive and Financially Strong", Gene Epstein delivered a substantial piece offering some pretty impressive statistics showing the up-side of the contributions made by immigrants in the United States. In this day and age of bad press and much anti-immigrant sentiment within our population, it was nice to read something statistically documenting what most of us already know. Sadly, Barron's is hardly mainstream reading, but each of you can do your part by maybe sharing some of these little "factoids" with some of your friends and neighbors who are less prone to reading this kind of stuff.

Mr. Epstein's piece opens with a smart observation:

"The Statue of Liberty has been sending its siren call not so much to the 'tired... huddled masses yearning to breathe free,' but to the tough and tenacious yearning to write code: the smart and persistent willing to master hard disciplines such as engineering and computer science and those tender and tolerant enough to be able to care for that ever growing huddle of sick, elderly natives."

Guys, does he ever capture the essence of the core of you reading this today, or what? (-:

He is describing the new immigrant to today's America: the ones coming from abroad to fill the natural voids that have resulted as part of the evolutionary growth in America's cultural transformation; a transformation which should naturally encourage migration of individuals such as yourselves who are here to do what we, as Americans, are not interested in doing.

Statistics are no doubt disturbing to those who are xenophobic, just as they are illuminating to those of us who understand the reality of our labor market and cultural transformation: in 1970, about 5% of the U.S. labor force was foreign-born. By 1990, it had grown to 10%; in 2001, it had reached 13%. What the statistics fail to mention is that this is not because you have "invaded our shores" as the xenophobes claim; it is because you have been drawn here by the natural vacuum caused by retiring baby boomers, increased longevity thanks to vast improvements in healthcare, and, the most difficult to pinpoint yet most profound in impact, American cultural transformations making technology and healthcare jobs unappealing to our nation's youth.

Projections in Mr. Epstein's article cite - no doubt to the alarm of the xenophobes - that the foreign-born work force will rise to about 20% by the year 2030. If you look at the time frame involved, that's 28 years and a 7% rise... hardly alarming. Still, it is fodder for organizations like FAIR, who fear what has been coined within those circles as the "browning of America."

Mr. Epstein contemplates the foreigner-fearing perspective and examines it brilliantly:

"Could all this occur despite the xenophobia that always lurks in the recesses of both right-wing and left-wing politics? Well, if immigrant labor was able to establish such a huge beachhead over the past 30 years while the native-born workers [were] still plentiful, think of what could occur when the natives become scarce.

The era of scarce labor will begin around 2010, when the baby boomers start to retire in significant numbers. From 2010 to 2030, the labor force is expected to increase by less than 8%, even assuming some increase in the share of foreign-born residents, while the number of folks 65 and older will double.

In that lop-sided scenario, certain things will have to give. Businesses will be eager to tap that surging market of idle baby boomers but will still have difficulty finding help. So it will offer even greater incentives to induce aging baby boomers to stay on the job; it will try to move more work offshore; and it will step up its effort to find labor-saving ways to produce.

Business will also lobby government more aggressively than ever to open the door to foreign-labor... "

His point is that which I've been trying to make all these years: it's now, folks, or it's later. Our choice as Americans is simple: we produce like bunnies, create a workforce domestically, and somehow transform our culture to make high- tech, science, and healthcare jobs culturally appealing to American youth and do so damn quickly, or import folks to fill these positions. Assuming it's too late to do the former, we must do the latter.

If we must do the latter, we either do so now and assimilate these folks into our culture through the intelligent use of selected visa categories, such as an intelligent non-immigrant nurse category, quickly before we're all 65, or wait until later and have knee-jerk, reactive immigration measures which will flounder and fail, much in the way that our national security policy is unfolding.

When, oh when, will we have a government that plans ahead for its people?

About The Author

Jose Latour is the founding partner of Latour & Lleras, P.A., a Gainesville, Florida based business immigration practice working primarily with the IT industry and foreign investors. The above represents Mr. Latour's Editorial opinion. JELPA is an A/V rated firm whose web site,, is one of the Internet’s most visited immigration sites. The firm was named “ONE OF AMERICA’S TOP TEN INTERNET/VIRTUAL COMPANIES” in the 1999 Inc. Magazine and Cisco Systems “Growing with Technology Awards.” Mr. Latour served as a U.S. Diplomatic and Consular Officer in Mexico and Africa before entering private practice and today divides his time between his law practice, writing, flying, and his music.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.