It isn't every day that three men with such disparate ideological profiles find common cause, let alone on a high-profile issue that has been roiling American politics for years. But there they were at Boston's Seaport Hotel one evening last week, jointly making a nonpartisan case that reforming the nation's dysfunctional immigration system is essential for economic revival. Without the growth fueled by immigrants -- especially foreign-born entrepreneurs -- the United States is unlikely to retain its preeminent position in the world. In Bloomberg's vivid phrase, America is "committing economic suicide" by making it too hard for ambitious foreigners to enter the US and unleash their drive and ingenuity.
Opening the Boston forum, Menino was effusive in his praise for Bloomberg , whose social liberalism, especially on gun control, complements his. "I am proud to call him my friend," Menino said.
But the mayor was at loss for something nice to say about Murdoch, the former owner of the conservative Boston Herald. The best he could manage was to thank him "for being here and sharing his views." He started to make a dig about "those headlines, Rupert" -- then apparently thought better of it, and merely observed wryly that the News Corp. chairman ensures "a diversity of opinion."
What was striking about the discussion that followed, however, was its unity of opinion, above all on the subject of immigrants and their economic impact.
Menino ran through some local numbers. There are 8,800 immigrant-owned small business in Boston, he said, producing nearly $3.7 billion in annual sales and employing more than 18,000 people. New Americans have swelled Boston's population to 625,000, its healthiest level since 1970 -- healthy because "more people mean more talent, more ideas, and more innovation." They also mean more revenue: Boston's immigrants spend $4 billion per year, generating $1.3 billion in state and federal taxes. For generations immigrants have rejuvenated Boston, said the mayor. "They make this old city new again and again."
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