New Immigration Stance Helps Labor Issue; Legislation Needed

Kansas Viewpoint

Young people have a shot at labor market, driver's license and-- maybe -- life with change in immigration policy

Published on: June 16, 2012
Some help for young people brought here as children by their parents comes in this week's announcement of a temporary pause in any deportation proceedings against these innocent young people. But it is just a tiny signal of a start, not the action that needs to be taken on comprehensive immigration reform.

It's hard to believe that some people are hard-hearted enough to want to punish these young people for the decisions that their parents made up to three decades ago.

I have been listening to arguments that they are about to "steal" labor market opportunities from young American citizens who are also looking for work. There is likely a chance that they will make formidable competition for their peers in the job market. But they aren't stealing anything. In fact, allowing them to compete prevents their opportunity for upward mobility from being stolen FROM them.

These are young adults who have gone to school, made good grades, graduated from high school, risked their lives for the freedom of all of us in Iraq or Afghanistan and what this policy offers is to hold off punishing them for two years and allow them to enter the labor force, pay taxes and make an additional contribution to the economy of this country.

It's a step in the right direction, but it does not go nearly far enough. Congress still needs to take immediate action to pass the Dream Act and let these young people not only continue to labor for this country, but to become citizens of this country and realize their full potential contribution to building a better future for themselves and the country.

Beyond the Dream Act, we need legislation that provides real and meaningful reform to our immigration laws so that we make it possible for people to come here legally to fill entry level, hard-labor jobs and for brilliant PhD students to stay here and contribute their talents to building our economy instead of being forced to return to competitive countries and build THEIR economies.

That reform needs to go a step beyond what we have even discussed and allow hard-working mothers and fathers to bring their children with them when they come here legally to work, wiping out laws that force them to abandon their children in order to join the American labor force -- the very laws that brought us the mess of children growing up here as illegal immigrants in the first place.

And while we are at it, we need to allow them to bring their parents with them to, if those seniors are dependent on the income their children earn. One of the big complaints I hear is that immigrants come and "all the money goes back" to Mexico or Central or South America. If you were forced to leave YOUR dependents in order to earn the money to support them, where would YOUR paycheck go? The mere fact that they DO continue to support their dependents instead of just living a happy, comfortable life speaks volumes about their character.

To those who complain that their children will be crowded out of the "best" jobs by these young immigrants -- let me pose this challenge: Why are you so worried? This policy doesn't grant favortism, it simply removes the threat of punishment -- for now. If your kid isn't competitive, how hard did he or she work? Why isn't he better prepared for the workplace?

These may seem like tough questions, but they need answers.