Mona Charen

It suits Democrats to treat immigration as an issue of "race" and discrimination because it permits them to frighten Hispanic Americans and secure that important voting bloc. But it's a fiction. We have an immigration problem because the U.S. is an incredibly desirable place to live and work. Immigrants continue to enrich our society, not least because they are often more appreciative of our institutions and liberties than are the native born. If it were feasible, millions of people worldwide would come here. And millions wait patiently, sometimes for decades, for the chance to do so. Democrats worry ostentatiously about the unfairness of asking people to prove their legal status. What about the unfairness of giving an advantage to line jumpers over those who abide by the law and wait their turn?

Obama proposed that "undocumented" workers be required to go to the "back of the line" before being considered for citizenship. But how could that work? Those waiting abroad for green cards frequently wait for a decade or more. Where exactly would the end of the line be?

The U.S. needs many different kinds of legal immigrants -- particularly those who are job creators. As Ben Wildavsky outlines in "The Great Brain Race," "Between 1995 and 2005, 25 percent of all American engineering and technology companies were founded by immigrants -- including half of those in Silicon Valley. Nearly one-quarter of all international patent applications filed from the United States in 2006 named foreign nationals as inventors ... While immigrants made up just 12 percent of workforce in 2000, they accounted for fully 47 percent of scientists and engineers with PhDs. (And) two-thirds of those who entered science and engineering fields between 1995 and 2006 were, yes, immigrants."

But our current immigration law makes it difficult for these Ph.D.s, trained with considerable investment from U.S. taxpayers, to remain in the United States. They are returning to their countries and taking their job-creating skills with them.

These are the sort of immigration questions that serious leaders should consider -- rather than demonizing the people of Arizona.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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