In a 2009 Forum article — Immigration & Immigration Reform in the United States: An Outsider’s View — Randall Hansen of the University of Toronto asks an important question, one that our country, and our President should also be asking:
Why is it that the United States “remains by far the most popular destination for immigrants worldwide?”
As Hansen tells it:
The United States is not only the world’s premier immigration country, it is also the world’s most successful integration machine. There are multiple indicators of this success. The U.S. has among the highest employment rates among immigrants. Whereas in many European countries, immigrants or ethnic minorities are unemployed at twice to five times the national average, the gap in the U.S. is zero. [Also the United States] has a unique capacity for populating itself with people who disagree on everything except one point: that they live in the greatest country in the world. The peculiarity – I am tempted to say glory – of the U.S. is that both a deeply conservative, anti-gay, Christian fundamentalist and a radically leftwing, loudly out, ‘leather queen’ can simultaneously believe that the U.S. is the only country in the world for them.
And isn’t this a good thing? Isn’t our being now, as in the past, “the most popular destination for immigrants worldwide,” a precious national treasure, one that we ought to vigorously preserve and protect? And if so why is it that the members of Congress can’t get behind a comprehensive immigration reform package that would encourage and support new waves of immigrants who, as the millions of their predecessors did before them, would bring with them the potential for new growth and prosperity, their own as well as that of their adopted country?