With President Obama in El Paso today to talk immigration and border security, I’ve taken New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s op-ed that appeared last week in the Wall Street Journal and rearranged selected parts into a poem. All words are still his. Like Emma Lazarus’s poem, “The New Colossus,” at the base of the Statue of Liberty, this one acknowledges the important role immigrants have in the identity of the United States and urges a welcoming stance on immigration. This poem, however, is designed to fit better with the economic moment and offers some immediate policy solutions.
An Ode to Immigration
In the global economy, the countries that attract
The world’s best, brightest and hardest-working will grow and succeed.
Those that refuse them entry will not.
America has long understood this.
Our global competitors understand
How crucial immigrants are to economic growth.
They roll out the red carpet for entrepreneurs;
We have no entrepreneur visa.
They heavily recruit our advanced-degree students;
We educate them and send them home.
They woo the engineers, scientists and other skilled professionals
Who invent new products, launch product lines,
And develop the technology of tomorrow;
We erect arbitrary senseless and bureaucratic barriers to recruitment.
But a new consensus on immigration reform has emerged
In the business community
That could break the logjam
And provide a much-needed jolt to our economy.
The idea is simple:
Reform the way we attract and keep
Talented and hard-working people from abroad
To better promote economic growth.
We[i] believe in the need to secure our borders,
Make it possible to hold businesses accountable
For verifying the status of workers,
Address the reality that 11 million people are here illegally
And cannot be deported en masse--
And increase lawful opportunities for those
Who want to come to this country and contribute to our prosperity.
Nevertheless, our nation cannot afford to wait
For Washington to get its act together
And pass comprehensive immigration reform.
There is too much at stake.
Our economy demands that we take
Immediate action on the most urgent
--and politically attainable--reform:
Making it easier for job creators to come and stay here.
Creating a visa for entrepreneurs
Who already have funding to start their businesses
Will lead directly and immediately
To American jobs.
Visa reforms to improve
Temporary and permanent pathways for companies …
Will spur growth
At existing US companies.
Providing visas to the brightest
Foreign graduates of our universities
Will allow our economy
To reap the rewards of their work.
Allowing immigrants who succeed in college, or serve in our military,
The chance to pursue a career
And build their lives here legally
Will strengthen the long-term health of the American economy.
Finally, developing a reliable way
For employers to hire guest workers
Will help support U.S. businesses
And create additional better-paying American jobs.
Those who focus on where the parties differ on immigration,
Rather than where they both agree,
Have paralyzed the debate in Washington
For far too long.
Leaders of both parties talk about creating jobs,
But they are ignoring the voices of business leaders
Who can actually create them
If only Congress would give them the tools.
[i] The Partnership for a New American Economy, for which Mayor Bloomberg is a co-chair, is a group of over 200 “Republican, Democratic, and Independent mayors and business leaders united in making the economic case for streamlining, modernizing, and rationalizing” the immigration system.