Reporter's Note: President Obama has been seeking advice from normal citizens since even before his inauguration. Not sure if he’s taking any of it; at least not any of mine. But still I continue writing a letter a day.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
So I understand you are eager to jump into the immigration debate again with both feet!
Good for you. It’s an issue that is far from settled, and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t tackle it as soon as possible…I mean, anything other than the economy, health care reform, and the situations in (take your pick) North Korea/Iran/Iraq/or Afghanistan. Ha! Just kidding.
You’ve shown both a great appetite and talent for major-league multi-tasking, so give the immigration wheel a whirl and let’s see what happens. But before you do, I think one thing needs to be clarified: Do we want an immigration policy based primarily on the needs of our country, the needs of people who want to come here, or some balance of both?
I’m not trying to be a smart guy or give you a hard time. It’s a serious question for a lot of voters, when it comes to understanding the discussions and proposals that lie ahead.
If I understand it correctly, through most of our country’s history, our immigration policy was that we opened our gates largely based on what we needed in terms of labor and skills. Yes, I know that was not the only way we decided who could come; and there were certainly overtones of racism, religious bigotry, and other factors; but in general that was the guiding principle, despite what many of us might imagine about that friendly lady with the torch in New York’s harbor.
And the leaders of our growing nation saw it as a pretty fair deal: We’d give opportunities to people who could give us something in return. Certainly, when we talk about Latino immigrants, plenty of people have made the case that it’s still true. They want jobs. We want inexpensive labor. Marriage made in heaven.
But of course, it’s not that simple. Illegal immigration has enraged plenty of people. Job losses here to foreign firms have hardened opinions. And with unemployment still rising, it’s not going to get any easier.
So that’s why I say a clear definition would really help as you reopen this debate; of what we are after, or at least what we are considering. The issue has grown so cloudy, with so many accusations and suspicions, I fear even the most well-intentioned, thoughtful, and responsible Americans may just find themselves shaking their heads, saying, “Here we go again,” with no idea where we are going at all.
Just a few thoughts. Give me a call if you want to chat it over. I changed my ringtone, so whenever someone calls it sounds like calypso band is playing! Ha!
Find more of the Foreman Letters, here.
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