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Nations of Immigrants…Lest They Forget

Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz

Perche in France

Immigration to the U.S.

U.S. unemployment rateU.S. unemployment rate

Everyone, even the French are closely watching the U.S. Presidential Iowa caucus results. National news channel France 24 has been covering it in great detail. The whole world knows that Cruzin Cruz trumped the Trump and Bernie is giving Hillary a run for her money, although she managed to take the lead by a small margin.

This is just the beginning for the contenders. Iowa is the first of the electoral events (since 1972), but is instrumental in predicting the ultimate outcome of the race with a 43% success rate at predicting the Democratic candidate and a 50% success rate for predicting the Republican candidate. Should this prove to be true, we’ll be voting in November for either Cruz or Clinton.

What might be a bit of a surprise is Clinton’s French-Canadian roots with ancestry coming from the province of Perche in Quebec. Perche in France, 100 miles west of Paris, was a point of departure for many emigrants to Quebec in the 17th-century. Cruz on the other hand was born in Canada of a Cuban father and American mother with Irish and Italian heritage.

What’s interesting about all this is that with the exception of Native Americans, America is a nation of immigrants…lest they forget.

Cruz has forgotten. In his Immigration Plan Summary he vows to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. and secure all borders. He vows to end Obama’s amnesty plan (which grants citizenship to illegal immigrants who have lived in the country for a certain amount of time and to the families of those immigrants), and he vows to halt any increases in legal immigration so long as American unemployment remains unacceptably high (though the current rate is 5%, the lowest in 7.5 years).

Clinton hasn’t forgotten. Her policy is more about reform to “create a pathway to citizenship, keep families together, and enable millions of workers to come out of the shadows.” She wants to end detention centers and will defend Obama’s deportation relief program.

My grandparents were immigrants to the U.S. and I’m an immigrant in France. I have not forgotten, and therefore support a liberal policy toward immigrants. An Oxford Economics research study published by the Department of Employment and Learning in the U.K. found that “migrant workers had helped maintain an adequate labor supply to fuel the 2004–2008 economic boom.” Migrant labor made the difference between some businesses even surviving (in a survey of 600 businesses 31% said that migrants were important in the survival of their organization and this rose to 50% in health and social care and agriculture). The study also found that migrants facilitated economic growth, brought benefits to tourism and new air routes, had a positive influence on productivity with local workers, contributed new ideas and a fresh approach and created greater cultural links that were effective in growing international trade.

This study is not the only one that positively supports immigration. Do your own Google search and you’ll find the pros and cons of immigration — with pros far in the lead, particularly economically. (Just read the Fordham Political Review)

The humaine side of the equation doesn’t get discussed enough which has nothing to do with economics. As an immigrant, I want the right to choose where I live in this very global society of ours, as long as I am willing to play by the ‘rules’ of the country in which I live. Thankfully I am not (nor are other American expats) running from a homeland at war or persecution like many in today’s world.

Hollande and LePen

French immigration vignette

The golden passport

Meanwhile, France is having a similar debate. President François Hollande defends the benefits of immigration, while political opponent Marine Le Pen wants to “cut the annual migrant intake from the current 200,000 to 10,000.” Historians claim that up to 25% of France has immigrant ancestry. That doesn’t surprise me since I’m one of them.

In contrast, President Hollande is currently being accused of taking a rather rightest position regarding his stand on dual nationals. Reforms proposed to strip dual nationals of their French citizenship if they are convicted of terrorism will be debated this month. This would apply only to French nationals who hold another citizenship in order to uphold a 1961 UN convention requiring nations to avoid rendering a person stateless.

Once when getting my long-stay visa renewed, the clerk at the Préfecture de Police told me I carried the “golden passport” — the U.S. passport that has unwritten favoritism by immigration officials, if not by the immigration laws themselves. That just makes me and my compatriots lucky, but what about the others who were born in places less desirable in the eyes of the “fonctionnaires?”

It’s all confusing to me. On one hand we are a global society with the most amazing communications tools at our fingertips than ever before, with transportation means to take us just about anywhere in the world and beyond our own in short time spans, with the ability to bridge the language gap via virtually instant translation, and a base of knowledge accessible to everyone and anyone via the Internet…yet we continue to act as if we are still living in a tribal society protecting our little turf and keeping out anyone or anything that comes from outside that circle as if they are our enemies. It’s so primal and uncivilized on so many levels, that I can’t wrap my head around it.

What is it that we fear? That the outsiders will take away what we think is rightfully ours? I suppose this is the basis for the difference between the right and left. The right wants to keep and maintain what they have from sharing it with the others, while the left believes we should all share and benefit without differentiating. And in the middle there is another idea that blends the two, defining what is rightfully ours with what should be shared.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds  Adrian Leeds
  Editor, Parler Paris

  Respond to Adrian

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