I think we’ve all cited some positives, and there is negatives, you cited some, I’ve cited some, but I think … I don’t think anyone really knows the… the net. Net net of the benefits and the costs, and I think it does vary by city, I think it is related to unskilled or skilled, and the particular labor market at Cedar Rapids, I can… I know where some illegals are in this town and what they are doing, and I think they are displacing people here, and maybe something at the federal level we could do … employ academia to actually take us study to actually understanding impact, I don’t think we know.
Jim talked about a larger philosophical issue of … you know… philosophical perspective earlier and the other tension that I want us to think of a little bit I think is in that vein. We tend to talk as citizens, uh depending on how we see our domain of citizenship. Do we see ourselves as local citizens, state citizens, U.S. citizens…We’re obviously talking in terms of U.S. citizens here in terms of some aspects of policy, but we’re also talking in as local citizens in terms of how we live with, you know, the issue daily.
There is also an increasing need today to think in terms of world citizenship. How strongly do we believe that American citizens have justifiably rights by virtue of being here and being citizens that people not here, wanting to come here don’t have?
[Pause at end of question]
Whe... where are we on that issue, and how large is the discrepancy on those rights?
Well, let me say… this is a truly American philosophical circumstance, not shared by the rest of the world, that is the Declaration of Independence talks about rights, given by a Creator to everybody. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness are not intended to be uniquely American. They are given by the Creator to all souls on this earth under the American philosophical creed. In that regard then you have a problem of do you have the right or the obligation to insert your view in others, and that is a matter of judgment that comes in many different circumstances. And it is very difficult both under international law, as well as under some sort of moral imperative. What are the obligations of Americans toward North Korea? Which we have a situation where a Stalinist government exists. The Congress has moved very slightly to say on refugee status “we will consider certain North Korean refugees potentially for immigration into the United States.” But that’s a very slight thing, it might involve 15 hundred people…. Very minor. But do you go further? And governments have to think this through in a practical sense is it possible, in a legal sense, you know, is it correct? People have to think about it. Coming home to this country we have issues of refugee status that come under our law, also from international statutes that becomes our law once we sign and concur on an international treaty. And so we do have obligations that expand. And then as very thoughtfully presented by you, Jim, the effects are local. All effects of national law are always local. And to some degree they are deep, to some degree they are slight. And then every situation is different, I mean, one can find, for example, your distinction between short-term and long-term, some new immigrants are all pluses for our society in an economic sense, some are liability to our society, and every situation is totally different. And so we as a society have to take each individual situation, make collective judgments on generalized policy, and it is VERY difficult.
I am very optimistic in terms of where we are on immigration, because I don’t see it as an either or, but more as a both and, and what we do at the local level it's can greatly be impacted positively by the federal action in terms of immigration reform that institutes those legal channels in place. And immigration itself is a mixed blessing of challenges and opportunities we can do it at the both local and national level is to actually maximize and take advantage of opportunities, and minimize the challenges. And I just want to make my final comment, it is the philosophy of who we are as Americans. Four hundred years of the American history we already had waves after waves of immigration, the Irish, the Norwegean, the Dutch, and every new wave of immigrants was accused of stealing jobs, of diluting… American culture, of having greater cost. After four hundred years of immigrant history in America, we’re one of the most strongest, most prosperous nations in history. I think that has been throughout our immigrant history, we need to educate ourselves about that. Rationally and that way seek a solution in the best interest of everyone which I believe would be comprehensive immigration reform.
This tough salad that we have that’s America, I think the more diversified an area is, the opinions of people in that area towards immigration are affected by that diversity. I think, I came from the East Coast, when I moved to Iowa, I’ve never seen so many blond people in my whole life. LAUGHTER When I got here I found a totally different type of mentality than back east. I think a lot of immigrants feel the way that I feel. If you don’t want the immigration to the extent that we have it now, take the plaque off the statue of liberty “… you poor… be free.” If you don’t want us, take that off. Because this is America, this country was built on the immigration policies, on the immigrants who came here, and its future lies with those immigrants.
But also the same time – and I respect THAT very much – but at the same time, there is… every system can only be healthy with some sort of good limit, you know, some sort of rules… to me, we can’t just endlessly meet everyone’s needs, because… and yes, we are a country founded on immigration, but then to me it seems important that we be able to treat people in a humanitarian way, when they come here. And with so many conflicting situations with employments, with law, I don’t think we’ve done it adequately, so, so… in welcoming, we haven’t provided a true welcome, you know, it’s conflicting, and I’d like to see us create something that isn’t so conflicting.
…we think of pockets in Iowa, we think of pockets across the country, like the Appalachias that are very, very poverty-stricken and need a lot of financial help too to get themselves bettered.
Alright. We are about out of time. I think uh in response to a couple of comments that have just made here, one of the things to think about is that as we move toward understanding and possibly judgment [.] resulting in different policy, umm [.] conversations like this, it seems to me, are hopeful [.] uh are encouraging. And this sort of civic deliberation strikes me as a much better way to move in that direction than some of the experiences we have with debate, dissention and partisanship so, I [.] there’s reason to be encouraged by the interaction this morning um, it seems to me.
And to conclude, um I I had hoped to uh have just a few minutes for us to talk a little bit about uh what we think we might have heard from voices not present today [.] the missing voices here. Which is one that I’ll, ya know, I’ll certainly ask you to take away with you and and think about. Who wasn’t here? Who wasn’t uh represented in this discussion and what do we think we might have heard?
But I would like uh, if anyone is in a in a position to do so, to invite a couple of people to simply uh identify something you’ve heard today that you will ponder beyond today. [..] Something that you’ve heard in the interchange that you’ll take away with you, [.] you’ll be chewing on this next week. You, know, you’ll be you’ll be listening for more of what some other people might have to say about that.
One of the things particularly helpful for me was the information provided by the two practicing immigration attorneys with regard to the requirements for people to come. Prior to this immigration was a mild topic of concern for me, but I didn’t know necessarily that someone had to sign an affidavit of support and so forth. I assumed that, but I didn’t know for sure. And so that alters my perception of that people are draining our welfare system and so forth, because apparently they are not, and … that is very helpful for me to gain that kind of understanding, because as others have mentioned to there is a massive amount of misunderstanding and misinformation. I think wholeheartedly that that’s really where there needs to be a lot of attention, to correct those misinformations.
So as always the uh the accuracy of information is a concern.
Certainly…in my personal situation, the more we talked, the less, I realized that, I know about it, but I am really motivated right now to learn more.
Getting some glimmer of what we don’t know is not a bad result of a conversation [.] obviously so [.] Anyone else?
I think the point that you made about the… how the federal law affects us locally, we know it happens, but to kind of hear it said is, is good, because I think that all the laws are made in Washington and we are quite away from Washington, but they do affect us locally.
To paraphrase in some ways I think of the old think globally, act locally that also may relate to what we can do about this issue. We have to think about it on a global scale but we have to act locally.
I can think of about six other issues that [LAUGHTER] and we would have the same sort of dialogue … social security [LAUGHTER]
… which is the part of the point of the national issues forum.. that’s a great idea
… further refine that a national law… local effect. Basically law is abstract, but there is no area of law where there is more humanness in effect. And it affects the individuals involved the most profound aspect of their lives – can someone immigrate into this country? Can someone come under the law in such a way that they are part of a community? And there is in my particular job, there is absolutely no aspect that is more individually effect-oriented than that that’s related to the question of “can you become a part of our society?”
In identifying with this issue a little bit from another perspective, I am reminded that in the long sweep of our human history suggest to us that there will come a time when leaving this country and to go to another country will be the desired ideal. And I know if that happened very quickly rather than over a longer period of time it was suddenly desirable to emigrate to Canada. And Canadian policy said that families could emigrate as long as the family member of a family <…> was a skilled worker. And I was a skilled worker and I was pursuing immigration to Canada. I also know that the size of my family would dramatically increase which complicates that solution, you know, in interesting ways..
So how we perceive it, how we think about it on a personal level a personal perspective is uh is really significant to our consideration of issues.
Thank all of you for your … your participation this morning and for you time and effort to be here.