Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Illegal Immigration Issue...

In June of 2006, Robert Morison, the co-author of the book Workforce Crisis made an appearance on The News Hour with Jim Lehrer. This is what he said, "Don't let the current hubbub about illegal border crossing from Mexico give immigration a bad name. The U.S. economy needs immigrants, because the growth rate of the native-born workforce is slowing to a trickle. There will be a period during the next decade when all of our workforce growth will be thanks to immigration. We also need skilled immigrants, people who come to America either already skilled or seeking education. That's because the economy continues to add jobs requiring technical training or a college degree, while the aggregate demand for unskilled labor is nearly flat." (see the rest of Mr. Morison's comments here).

I would be interested to know what Mr. Morison would say today. Since June the un-employment rate has dropped again and crackdowns on illegal immigration have caused labor shortages in farm labor and other areas. The April 9, 2007 issue of Business Week reported, "In agriculture, the crackdown on illegal immigration has dried up farm labor so much that crops were left rotting in the fields last year. Even Michigan, which has the nation's highest unemployment rate, is reaching out to migrant farmworkers from Texas and, soon, Florida. Its slogan is "Venga a Michigan"--Spanish for "Come to Michigan." (see the full article from Business Week here)

"Come to Michigan," seems to be the only place where the welcome mat is still out on the porch, but what about The Statue of Liberty, you know the phrase, "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free..."

There are groups in the news who like to loudly proclaim, "Yes, we believe in immigration, but these people need to come here legally." The reality of the situation is that we allow far fewer immigrants into this country than we need to support our economy. There is also the reality that some who come from Canada and Mexico have no interest in becoming U.S. citizens, they just want to be able to come here to work and then leave.

Dr. Wayne Conelius of the University of California was interviewed for a 60 Minutes story about illegal immigration at the U.S. / Mexican border. He said, "They can earn more in an hour of work in the United States then they could in an entire day in Mexico-- if they had a job. The government says crossing the border through the desert is breaking the law... The message that we're sending them is if you can get past the obstacle course at the border, you're essentially home free. You have pretty much unrestricted access to our labor market and there are employers out there eager for your labor." That story aired in December of 2005. Since then border control has been tightened and the need for immigrant labor and the opportunities available for those who are willing to take that risk have become better. (read the very compelling 60 Minutes report here)

It is difficult for anyone to see issue beyond their own perspective and mine is that of a mother. If I were living in poverty and wondering if I would be able to provide for my child the things that every child should have, would I be willing to break the speed limit, (illegal immigration is classified as a misdemeanor) the answer. Yes! Would I have the courage and take the risks that so many Mexican mothers have taken to give their children a better life? I hope that I would. Over eight million illegal immigrants live in the United States. We need them to be here. If we did not need them, there would be no work for them and they would not come.

There are those that claim that we need to build a fence across our southern border, and I have to say that I see something ugly in that. If we are not talking about racism, then why don't we build a fence across our northern border as well.

There is not a perfect solution to illegal immigration that I can see, but I believe in The Guest Worker Program as the only solution that has some humanity and fairness, not to mention responsible economic sense in it, and I pray for its adoption.

My sister-in-law once said to me, "When we lift anyone, we lift everyone," and that is something I truly believe. I also believe that we must spread liberty, we must promote freedom, we must share prosperity and freedom with others, or we must lose it.

Percy Lavon Julian... A Great American...

Forgotton Genius is the story of Percy Lavon Julian one of the most gifted chemists America has ever produced. His work with plant steroids made possible the synthetic develop of the cortisone that is used for arthritis and other kinds of pain even today. Before Mr. Julian developed the processes and made the discoveries that he did, cortisone was worth more than its weight in gold and even if one had wealth untold, it was sometimes still unavailable at any price because of the little supply. Mr. Julian helped to discover a way that it could be manufactured in very large quantities and made available to those people who were suffering pain and needed this drug desperately.
His contributions in the field of chemistry are vast and his desire to better humanity inspiring.
It was very moving to me to learn of the battles he faced to do his important work and the difficulties that he faced because of his race. Near the end of the program there was a statement that he made where he said something to the effect that he had done the very best that he could, but he had not had the kind of career and the kind of opportunities that he would have liked to have had. I wonder what a genius of this kind could have done if society had been color blind at the time; maybe no more than he did or maybe much more than he did. I think there is a lesson there for society today. We must open the way for those who are willing to work and willing to learn. We must be sure the opportunities to achieve are there when the next Percy Julian comes along. If we don't, we only rob ourselves. Learn about the achievements and the life of Percy Julian here and see bits of the Nova program here.

Don't Miss World Peace...

I am just telling you that if you miss out on Jenni's World Peace Cookies that it is not my fault. Oh my heck!!! (I hate to use a Utah colloquialism on you folks, but what can I say...) Well, the ineffable joy, the fireworks of happiness... the, the, the chocolate! "I will eat them in a box. And I will eat them with a fox. And I will eat them in a house. And I will eat them with a mouse (well... not that). And I will eat them here and there. Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!" See Jenni's post here. Really people, try these!

Chocolate... High on the list of good things from Mexico...

Chocolate!!! First known to be used and actually developed as a bitter drink by the Aztecs of Mexico... (This bar is a new favorite, but it's from the slightly less exotic land of Pennsylvania.) Aztecs happened to often use chili with their bitter chocolate and it is a fabulous combo.. (they believed that chocolate had some kind of use as an aphrodisiac or was helpful with fertility or something) If you happen to ever find yourself in SLC at the Red Butte Cafe... don't miss the Aztec Chocolate & Chili Torte... delish! Eat it with a sweetheart, you never know, those Aztecs could be right! ;) See a fun history of chocolate here.