We have a game we play when we head back home for a visit. How long before my mother starts railing against the immigrants? Personally, I don’t know what the fuss is all about. Of course, my job is not in danger due to these outsiders. I’m not bothered by Spanish exit signs in Wal Mart, and I haven’t been affected by real or imagined crime waves due to porous borders.
But say the word “immigrant” in some quarters, and all heck breaks loose! I don’t get it. We’re an immigrant nation. While I know the difference between legal and illegal, both come here for the same reason my ancestors landed on these shores. They want a better life. They want a piece of the American dream. They are literally dying to get into the land of opportunity.
Does that diminish MY American dream? On the contrary, it bolsters it, but look back at our history, and you’ll see a common thread when it comes to immigrants. Each new group is reviled by those already here. Are we afraid of being surpassed in achievements by these intruders? Are we afraid of losing our societal place? Are we afraid of diminishing political power? Or are we just afraid of “different?”
Dr. Condoleeza Rice visited Mississippi College and took questions from our students. One asked about the internal threats faced by the United States. Dr. Rice turned to the issue of immigration. She said that we should be careful not to make immigrants the enemy. In the 21st century, the success of our economy depends on how we are able to use human capital. From the brilliant software engineer to the laborer looking to move from “fifty cents an hour to $5.00 per hour,” these new Americans can add value.
America is a dynamic country, evolving with each new wave of immigrants. If we allow our fear to keep us from addressing this issue in a reasonable way, we will stop the evolution and become stagnant. We will only hurt ourselves in the process.
>> Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is email@example.com, and her website is www.newper.com.