The nativists beat their chests

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Some Republicans in the nation’s capital apparently never tire of doing two silly and stupid things: turning off Latino voters in advance of presidential elections and charging right into Barack Obama’s bayonets when forcing government shutdowns.

Case in point: The front-runner in the GOP presidential primary (as of this writing) apparently thinks he can deport 10 to 12 million people to Mexico, only to have them come back. In the party of Ronald Reagan, he’s among the presidential candidates who try to claim the Reagan mantle but forgot his last bit of advice. It was dispensed in January 1989 as he was delivering his last address from the Oval Office. Reagan once again invoked his “shining city upon a hill” vision of America, which is much more welcoming than the party now sounds.

Said Reagan: “I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

Does that sound like a guy who would approve of deporting people who are already here making a contribution? Reagan went on to say the country was still a beacon and a “magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness toward home.”

The people who come here still often come from dark places. Many are too poor and remote to understand we have laws governing immigration. All they want is a better life. Yes, we should prosecute people who come here illegally and commit crimes, especially violent crimes, but we also need to remain that beacon.

If we’re going to grow our economy, we need people. We need to solve our immigration mess, including an expansion in H1-B visas and a strong guest-worker program. A wise government would have solved this long ago, but we’re still in search of one. Meanwhile, Reagan is turning over in his grave.

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