The debate over immigration reform is heating up again, and I’m proud that so many voices are speaking up for fairness and compassion. Today, I’d like to share a wonderful op-ed by former refugee and current community leader Hung Le.
As a refugee from Vietnam, Hung Le was one of the first “boat people” to arrive from South East Asia. He came to the United States in May 1975 and was sponsored by Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota. He begins his September 9 piece for The Immigrant Magazine, “Immigration Reform Will Benefit California and America,” as follows:
California is a joint labor of love by immigrants and native-born Americans, whether their family origins are in Vietnam, Mexico, Senegal, England, or elsewhere. Living here, the reasons why we need fair and humane immigration reform only become clearer to me each day. Reform will allow us to pull our diverse strengths together for the same goals communities share everywhere: prosperity, better education, improved prospects for children and families.
How can reform help bring this about? It will give everyone currently excluded from our society a deeper stake in our collective success, whether through citizenship or other opportunities. It will allow people to buy houses, start businesses, and otherwise devote themselves to the still-glorious American Dream. All of this will be good for Americans both native-born and new; the Center for American Progress estimates that immigration reform will bring about a cumulative increase in earnings of all California residents of $68.2 billion over 10 years. And that’s just California.
Throughout the whole country, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce lauds the job-creating, business-starting power that immigrants lend the economy. The Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan federal agency, believes that current reform legislation could reduce federal budget deficits by nearly $200 billion over 10 years.
As a Vietnamese-American whose family history is rooted in the refugee experience, I believe the ways in which immigration reform would improve the United States are self-evident. For example, if refugees were enabled to reunite with loved ones, they would be more stable and contributing members of our communities. In fact, everyone who benefits from immigration reform – be they hardworking undocumented people who obtain citizenship, children who need fairer treatment in our immigration court system, or families who avoid being torn apart by arbitrary detention – can and will put the best they have into building this country’s economy and security. The successes of Vietnamese-Americans can attest to the success of the refugee program. According to the National Congress of Vietnamese Americans, businesses owned by Vietnamese-Americans employed 97,035 people, had an annual payroll of $1.1 billion, and generated annual receipts of $9.3 billion in 2003.
He wraps up his piece with this powerful observation about S.744, the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate early this summer:
S.744 is good for America. Now we need the House to pass a bill that mirrors its strengths. Give people a chance to fully engage with American values and opportunities, and they will surprise us with the same kind of speed and strength that generations of new immigrants have brought to building this country.
You can read the entire op-ed by clicking the link above. Please show your support by Recommending this piece via Facebook and sharing it through other social media, and by sending the link to your friends, colleagues, and family members. These days, using social media to get the word out is critical.
Op-eds like this one are certain to catch the attention of California lawmakers and their staff, so I’m thankful to Hung Le for writing about his experiences and perspectives. I’m also grateful to The Immigrant Magazine for raising awareness of the urgent need for fair immigration reform.
After reading this op-ed, if you feel inspired, now is the time to raise your own voice for fair and compassionate immigration reform via the LIRS Action Center. Also, please don’t forget to sign up to receive alerts from this blog, and check out our new Immigration Reform Mythbuster.