Because we are a city of immigrants, we should be particularly interested in the fact that leaders in the U.S. Senate, along with President Obama, appear to have moved forward on solving the various problems that together make up the immigration issue with which the country has been grappling.
The issue is conflicted. On the one hand, we know we need immigrants to fill jobs that otherwise would go begging — especially jobs in agriculture and in high-technology fields. We also know that immigrants open stores and other small businesses, set up medical practices and participate in the arts. On the other hand, however, we resent the fact that some illegal immigrants — not all, by any means, but a few — become criminals, or already are criminals when they come into the country. Home-grown criminals are bad enough, but imported criminals seem to irk us even more.
It can be argued that all illegal immigrants are criminals by definition — they broke the law to come here, and are continuing to break it by remaining. But that argument overlooks the fact that to the extent they are hired into jobs, or open their own businesses, the immigrants are made welcome by the economy.
Without them, for example, farming in the Central Valley and in most other places would be nearly impossible. Their contributions are many and extremely valuable.
Have you ever heard of Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin? He was an immigrant from Russia. When he was still in his early 20s, he co-founded Google.
Some 70 percent of the residents of Madera are immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. Their contributions to our city and to our farms are incalculable.
The ideas being presented by the president and Congress include ways for the estimated 11 million people who are in the U.S. illegally to become permanent citizens. Unless that somehow can happen, it won't matter what else we do.
As a people, we haven't bothered to properly secure our borders, and we have based our economy at least in part on the services of immigrants, whether legal or not.
It is time we move forward from that conflicted reality and do the right thing for the people and the country.