***Full Speech*** CPAC 2013 America’s Future, the Next Generation of Conservatives Washington, DC Thursday, March 14, 2013
As Prepared for Delivery-
From the English pilgrims who colonized the new land, rugged pioneers who pushed boldly westward, and those nature-hardened souls who tamed the northwest many years ago. To the waves of Germans, Irish, and Italians who came to America seeking opportunity… Our nation fulfilled more dreams and generated more prosperity for more immigrant families than any other nation in history – each one driven by the belief “If I am free, I’ll prosper”.
America’s rugged individualism, free market system, and a republic form that kept government in check was exactly what worked for over three hundred years to make America the richest, most prosperous nation in the history of the world.
It was no different for my parents who came to Central California back in the mid 60’s seeking to make a better way of life for their children as farm workers. My parents saw America as “Un País favorecido por la mano Todopoderosa de Dios” (A land favored by the hand of God Almighty)
Our family would work the fields and orchards in the states of California,Nebraska and Washington State. Dad took his savings of over 20 years, and borrowed the rest from family to risk it on a small business in Central Washington. Soon the enterprise turned into a moneymaker and we were on our way, on our way to achieving the American Dream.
My family, like many families before had become part of the common immigrant narrative – hard work, perseverance and access to the free market would allow us to thrive in America. Still, even though most of us are not more than a generation or two away from the immigrant’s experience, today, immigration has become one of the most divisive issues of our national discourse.
The rise in the number of immigrants now living and working in the United States without proper authorization has led to valid concerns about the effect sit has on wages and public finances, as well as the potential security this threat poses.
And yet, incongruent as it may seem, it is also true, these same immigrants have become an important part of the U.S. economy – from high-skilled,high-tech professionals to those who work the most menial of jobs.
They are men who fix roofs, mow lawns, wash dishes and fill our supermarkets with fresh, cheap produce, dairy and meats — and women who tend to the elderly and care for our children.
Our failure to advance reform has kept families divided, hindered needed assimilation, and the deserts along our border states now serve as graveyards to hundreds who never made it out.
Sometime ago I ran into an old friend, Felix, I asked him why he had not been to church for some time. He shyly said he had been deported about a year ago, and had just made his way back to Washington State. “Fue una experencia terrible Daniel,” he said.
About 20 of us were on our 5th day crossing the Arizona desert and by then the searing sun was more than we could bear. A woman in the group begged the rest of us to stop, said she just couldn’t go further, that she needed rest.Felix’s eyes welled up and said “We left her to die, to my everlasting shame,we left her to die”.
I placed my hand on his shoulder for a while without saying a word.
Americans know that outside of improved economic condition in an immigrant’s country of origin, the best antidote to illegal immigration is a smart and effective legal immigration system. —reform that decriminalizes the relationship between a willing worker and a willing employer – parties who are struggling to respond to market forces.
Americans know businesses need to hire the necessary workforce that will create the most value for their companies and customers, generate economic opportunities for their communities, and allow them to compete in the global economy.
And so, Democrats have proposed a policy prescription that calls for a straight path to citizenship.
Republicans on the other hand support an employment-based program that would provide the certainty of legal status, with a smaller number expressing support for Permanent Residency (but not enough for passage).
What we have is a conundrum.
The things is, in 2007, after a Republican led Senate passed immigration reform, a Democrat led House killed it after groups like LULAC and the AFL-CIO announced its opposition to the guest-worker component of the bill.
Five years later, its déjà vu all over again.
Ifthe Democrats force a vote that calls for a path to Citizenship, the bill will almost surely fail. And if the Republicans propose legislation that calls for mere legality while coming up short on a path to citizenship, the bill will also fail.
My hope is that American conservatives will come together to demand a bi-partisan compromise – a compromise that improves the American economy, a policy that honors our immigration legacy, and yes, reform that would allow hardworking people to come out of the shadows and assimilate like the many groups that came before them.
An employment-based visa program, for example, that would allow for someone to petition for Permanent Residency after 2-4 years of being employed, crime-free,and not have been a burden to society. Children would be treated different.
It is true, the complexities are many. But if immigrants burden American taxpayers, the law can limit entitlement benefits. If you feel immigrants do not honor American values and our common language, we can impose tests of English proficiency and mandate Constitutional classes.
Whatever your grievance happens to be with respect to immigration, we can use this opportunity for reform to strengthen America. Social policy must incentivize desirable conditions and boost human potential – not stifle it.
Failure to change the status quo would hinder economic opportunity, limit our individual freedoms and continue to harm family well-being.
And that would be un-American.
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· Fewer than 100,000 who entered into the United States unlawfully in 2010 hailed from Mexico; significantly lower than the 525,000 who did the same from 2000 to 2004 according to reports.
· Doug Massey, head of the Princeton's Mexican Migration Project, says that for the first time in decades,Latino migration has now actually reached a net zero.
· Variables altering immigration numbers – for a long time to come – include a narrowing of the real wage gap,lowering birth rates, and a rise in educational attainment by those living under the poverty level.
· Research shows Mexican family units are much smaller than they had once been, shrinking their fertility rates from about 7.3 children per woman in 1962 to 2.1 children today
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