There has never been a better time for conservatives to take meaningful action on immigration reform. It is an issue that encompasses core values conservatives hold dear — job creation, economic growth, family values, work ethic, personal responsibility, enhancing national security and making government function properly. By leading instead of following on immigration reform, Republicans have a chance to demonstrate we have a party equipped to govern and solve problems, a key pillar of winning the White House in 2016.
America needs authentic contributions to its culture from many different sources, including the contributions that can be made by immigrants coming here for a better life. There is nothing more authentic than the idea of people coming to America, leaving something else behind and becoming American in the process.
Theodore Roosevelt put it this way in his fourth message to Congress in 1904, a precursor to our modern-day State of the Union:
“There is no danger of having too many immigrants of the right kind. It makes no difference from what country they come. If they are sound in body and in mind, and, above all, if they are of good character […] then we should welcome them with cordial hospitality.”
More Republicans should embrace Roosevelt’s posture, instead of taking a short-sighted or downright hateful attitude when debating immigration policy. We need pragmatic, conservative Republican candidates who want to govern and solve problems, including tackling immigration reform. That goes for 2016, especially, as our Hispanic families continue to make up a larger portion of the electorate.
From an economic standpoint, immigrants are a secret weapon at a time when other nations are increasing their competitiveness. The smartest thing we can do is to attract and retain as much of the available intelligent, thoughtful, creative, and driven talent as we can possibly get our hands on. Why educate the world’s brightest at America’s best universities just to send them away to compete against us from abroad? We need the world’s sharpest minds working for America, not against it.
Politically, it is a mistake to reject the participation and enthusiasm of people who simply lack the good fortune of being born here. A “Partnership for a New American Economy” study found that immigrants tend to be more politically conservative on many issues than Americans as a whole. Contrary to what many carnival barkers would have you believe, American immigrants hold dear their work ethic, family values, personal responsibility and their love of country. Consider it the zeal of the convert — one who leaves behind the security of home and history to come here is probably one who enthusiastically embraces the American ideal.