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An Immigration Policy Based On Reality

by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg

The Obama administration is wisely using the economic crisis facing the country to begin achieving long-overdue reforms in how we approach education, infrastructure, the environment, and health care. But one of the most important steps that Washington can take to promote long-term economic growth is fixing our broken immigration system.

Some in Washington see the recession as an excuse to ignore immigration policy. They assume that no progress is possible because periods of economic recession tend to create rising levels of xenophobia. But one of the worst mistakes Washington made in the last century was passing isolationist legislation in the 1920s and 1930s, which deepened and prolonged the Great Depression. We cannot afford to repeat that mistake in this new century.

Fully restoring our economic health will require a national immigration policy based on reality, not politics and the reality is that we need more immigrants, not fewer. More laborers who will work their up the ladder - and who will take jobs many Americans will not - and more scientists, engineers, and doctors whose ideas and innovations will build the economy of the future.

Immigration has always been the driving force behind New York City's - and the nation's - economic success, and that remains true today. Immigrants come here to work, and they work extremely hard. Many immigrants also bring an entrepreneurial drive that creates new jobs - many of which go to Americans.

An immigration policy based in reality also means abandoning the wrong-headed idea that we can deport the more than 11 million people living here without visas. Not only would it be impossible, and not only would it devastate many families, it would make our economic recession far worse. Many hardworking entrepreneurs who contribute to our tax base - and whose workers shop in stores throughout the city - would be forced to close their doors, meaning fewer jobs and less economic activity.

An immigration policy based in reality would give those immigrants already here the opportunity to earn the right to stay here - and begin a path to citizenship. Helping these immigrants come in from out of the shadows is especially important during a recession. If they remain without legal standing, not only will too many of them be exploited, but too many legal residents will see their wages depressed. That means all wage earners - native born and immigrants - will lose.

A reality-based immigration policy would also eliminate incentives for people to come here illegally by making sure that businesses can and do follow the law, which is key to securing our borders.

We cannot allow the national recession to be an excuse for inaction. As the Obama administration tackles the great challenges of our day, we look forward to working with the President and Congress to create an immigration system that will strengthen our economy, protect our borders, and honor our values.

About The Author

Michael R. Bloomberg is the 108th Mayor of the City of New York. Born on February 14, 1942 in Boston and raised by middle-class parents in Medford, Massachusetts, he was taught at an early age the values of hard work and civic responsibility. He attended Johns Hopkins University, where he paid his tuition by taking loans and working as a parking lot attendant during the summer. After college, he went on to receive an MBA from Harvard Business School. In 1966, he was hired by Salomon Brothers to work on Wall Street. He was re-elected in 2005 by a diverse coalition of support that stretched across the political spectrum. One of his main agenda is to support the immigration reform.

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