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Reasonable discussion needed on many issues

Guest op-eds

February 10, 2013
By Mohey Mowafy , The Mining Journal

I am always at a loss when some wonder why our national conversations on issues like gun control, national debt, immigration, etc., tend to be emotional.

Honestly, I find it less than honest to expect anyone not to be emotional about issues with monumental, profound, and deeply rooted personal emotional investment.

Yes, we have evolved to think, and very analytically for that matter, but we continue to have an amazingly emotional brain, and emotions, by their very nature are not always rational.

As a foreign-born, aka, immigrant myself, it is even more difficult not to contain emotions about our current national immigration reform debate.

However, there are facts that we must not dismiss as we ultimately make rational decisions irrespective of our feelings about the subject as well as about our political affiliation/orientation, and about immigrants (legal and not) in general.

I became an American by choice. Far more significant is the fact that I had actively and relentlessly pursued it long before I finally arrived to Madison, Wis., in 1969. One of the reasons I love my Marquette is that it is where I was naturalized to become an American citizen seven years later.

To take the emotional "tribal partisan" arguments out, it is important to remember that the recent and desperately needed proposed reform is hardly different from what president George W. Bush tried to do in his second term.

It is also important to give credit to the gang of 8 senators (authors of the bipartisan proposal) irrespective of what motive each one of them has. In the words of former Governor Jeb Bush "I'm encouraged by the common sense plan outlined by a bipartisan group of senators.

It is a good step forward in building a comprehensive immigration plan". At a policy event at the George Bush Presidential Center when the focus/theme was immigration reform, the former President said "America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time.

As our nation debates the proper course of action relating to immigration, I hope we do so with a benevolent spirit and keep in mind the spirit of immigrants."

Consider comparing President Bush's 2006 televised address to the nation on immigration reform to President Obama's Las Vegas take on the same subject last week. Yes, the style is different, but the substance and sentiment are basically identical.

Think about it. If President Obama and President Bush can agree on the substance of something as contentious as immigration reform, surely it isn't too much to hope that our bitterly divided Congress can find a way to reason together on this issue.

The reform is needed not only because of a noble humanistic notion. There are many other considerations which happened to be well-founded and solidly resting on factual ground. David Brooks (of the New York Times) was crystal clear in pointing out some of the most important yet-hardly recognized factors.

They are basically economics and demographics factors both here and in Mexico, where most of immigration originates.

Since economy is our major domain of concern (legitimately so), it behooves us to view this subject using an economic prism.

In short, increased immigration would actually boost the U.S. economy. Counterintuitive to some as it may be, the research by several serious economists and by our Congressional Budget Office show that giving the current illegals a path to citizenship would increase the taxes they pay by $48 billion while increasing the cost of public services they use by only $23 billion, thereby producing a surplus of $25 billion.

Educating foreign-born Americans may cost the states some revenue, but those educated foreign-born Americans will pay back a lot more than what was spent on them.

Equally misguided is the notion that allowing immigrants to work will only lead to lower wages for Americans doing low skill labor.

The data shows that it is not the case. On the same subject, it is rather ironic that we are not the same magnet for immigrants from Mexico because our economy is actually growing slower than theirs.

The demographics, when viewed carefully, show far less "reason" to be negative about immigration reform.

"If we can't pass a law this year, given the overwhelming strength of the evidence, then we really are a pathetic basket case of a nation", David Brooks wrote for the NYT.

Editor's note: Mohey Mowafy is a retired professor of health, physical education and recreation at Northern Michigan University.

 
 

 

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