Bloggings On Dysfunctional Government
Immigration Thought Leadership - Needed Now More Than Ever
Writing for The Hill, pundit Kathy Kemper just published a thoughtful piece on "Debt and immigration." In it she contrasts American policy-makers' obsession with the financial Sword of Damocles, set to behead us on August 2, with Norway's all-consuming focus on the aftermath of a xenophobic madman's gutless acts of murder and mayhem.
Americans, it seems, can think only of financial insecurity (apparently because Casey Anthony remains in hiding), while Norwegians grapple with societal insecurities and aspirations, and ultimately, the proper response to racial and religious hatred.
Kemper reasons that security is about more than fiscal rectitude and the age-old debate over spending on guns versus butter:
In reality, defending the homeland requires a continuous flow of the world’s best: individuals who understand the changing constellation of threats to our nation; discern which among those will grow more important in the years to come; and design “hard” systems and “soft” policies to respond to them dynamically.
There are at least two other reasons why immigration is so crucial:
(1) ?It keeps our nation young. Indeed, if — and it’s a big if — we’re able to sustain our immigrant inflow, we should be able to avoid the demographic challenges that beset the EU and ?Japan (and which, within another decade or two, will begin to take a toll on China).
(2) America, above all, is an idea, perhaps the most important component of which is openness: openness to people, to ideas, to risk taking. An America that closes itself off will guarantee its decline. Harvard University’s Joe Nye has argued that “the greatest danger to America is not debt, political paralysis or China; it is parochialism, turning away from the openness that is the source of its strength and resting on its laurels.”
If, as Kemper rightly posits, America is an idea, then to keep our mental synapses firing, we as a nation need many more immigration thought leaders.
In the immigration sphere, thought leaders are not likely or often found in the halls of Congress. Rather, they are all around us -- in our schools, coffee shops, law offices, think tanks and foundations. They are Tweeters, bloggers, artists, activists, journalists and especially, DREAMers. While they can be sighted in many places across the country, their numbers are insufficient to turn the tide of anti-immigrant hate speech, jingoism and Fortress-America messaging that passes as the "fair and balanced" offering of competing ideas.
Immigration thought leadership is about speaking truth to power, about setting aside any pretense of faux objectivity, as Paul Krugman opined today in "The Centrist Cop-Out":
Some of us have long complained about the cult of “balance,” the insistence on portraying both parties as equally wrong and equally at fault on any issue, never mind the facts.
I've thought quite a bit about the scarcity of immigration thought leadership (especially when my muse escapes me on any given Saturday as I scrounge for a fresh topic to post on dysfunctionality in our visa and entry policies). Recently, Martindale-Connected, the social media site for lawyers, offered me the chance to ruminate on thought leadership via podcast (available here) and in writing here: "5 Steps to Go From Thoughtful Lawyer to Thought Leader on Social Media Sites (and Other Places)."
The five steps I described apply to any form of thought leadership, but especially to immigration and to budding thought leaders with no "Esq." after their names:
If we Americans are to maintain our unhaughty claim of Exceptionalism, that is, our heritage as a perpetually vibrant and constantly replenished nation of immigrants, then we must produce many more thought leaders who can win what Kemper describes as the "debate over immigration [which] gets to who we are and, more importantly, who we will be." The growing ranks of immigration thought leaders, however, must not, as Krugman warns, make "nebulous calls for centrism, [the] big cop-out. . . that only encourages more bad behavior." Rather, in my view, they must call out extremism wherever it surfaces and help direct our people to embrace the nation's true saving grace -- more enlightened and just immigration policies.
Angelo Paparelli is a partner of Seyfarth Shaw LLP. Mr. Paparelli, with a bicoastal practice in Southern California and New York City, is known for providing creative solutions to complex and straightforward immigration law problems, especially involving mergers and acquisitions, labor certifications and the H-1B visa category. His practice areas include legislative advocacy; employer compliance audits and investigations; U.S. and foreign work visas and permanent residence for executives, managers, scientists, scholars, investors, professionals, students and visitors; immigration messaging and speech-writing; corporate policy formulation; and immigration litigation before administrative agencies and the federal courts. He is frequently quoted in leading national publications on immigration law. He is also President of the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, a 30-firm global consortium of leading immigration practitioners. Paparelli’s blog and a comprehensive list of his many immigration law articles can be found at www.entertheusa.com. He is an alumnus of the University of Michigan where he earned his B.A., and of Wayne State University Law School where he earned his J.D. Paparelli is admitted to the state bars of California, Michigan and New York.
The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.