Crush of desperate migrant families seek asylum at border

Maria Orbelina Cortez (right), walks with her 3-year-old son, Julio (center), and a worker at the Catholic Charities shelter in McAllen, Texas on Jan. 11. Orbelina says she decided to flee El Salvador after her husband attacked her and caused a pan of hot oil to fall, scalding Julio and leaving a scar on his head.

Immigration is one of the biggest issues in today’s society. Not only does it involve our country and our people, but also anyone trying to come to the United States in an attempt to find better lives for themselves and their families.

Immigration is not a new topic. It is an old battle that we have yet to find an effective way to combat. Our country has been shaped by the diverse cultures brought to us by immigrants. People have crossed oceans for just the chance of a better life; one that they could find within our borders.

There are obvious concerns about our economy and the security of our jobs and futures, but studies have shown that there is no correlation with immigration and high rates of unemployment. In fact, if were we to remove the entirety of the undocumented workforce, we could see a decline in the labor force and output.

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) found that “Immigration is integral to the nation’s economic growth.” It is predicted that, due to better health care, more people are going to reach retirement age and there will not be enough skilled workers to replace them within the labor force. Approximately 35.3 million jobs are estimated to come around through 2024. If you consider the 9.8 million jobs that are projected to be created and the decrease in the United States’ birth rate, it is evident that there will not be enough people to carry out those jobs. Immigrants are an important piece in the workforce problem that the U.S. is facing.

The problem with immigration today is not the onslaught of people surging our borders or the intents we believe they have, it is our system for handling the entire situation. Congress has not passed significant immigration reform legislation since 1986. That is around 33 years that we have neglected to properly address the growing crisis.

It is apparent that we do not fully understand just how our country, our day-to-day lives, have been affected by immigration and immigrants. Many of the stores, businesses and establishments that we rely on daily are owned by or founded by immigrants. Immigrant entrepreneurs own nearly 28 percent of our businesses. Between 2000 and 2013, they accounted for 48 percent of the overall business ownership growth. Many of the successful companies that we all know, and love, were founded by immigrants. For example, eBay was established by Frenchman Pierre Morad Omidary; Kohl’s Department Store was founded by a man of the name Maxwell Kohl, an immigrant from Poland; and Google, the search engine we use multiple times every day, was co-founded by a Russian named Sergey Brin.

Our growing economy has lost sight of the foundations on which it was built. It is high time that we decide on a course of action to fix this problem. There needs to be a way to stop illegal immigration without endangering the lives of those seeking better things. We need to formulate a plan that will help the situation, not make it worse. The way we handle this situation will show who we are as a country and as a people. It is up to us to make sure that it will not reflect poorly on us.