Too often, American public policy discussions are framed in single issue debates of pros and cons which make for great media theater and water cooler conversation–but never end in solutions… only in winners and losers. To be sure, the real losers are once again the shrinking middle-class which continues to see a broken Congress continue to destroy the country. An American dream Hollywood built and the middle-class made sustainable by working itself out of the working class and buying into the popular media illusion. This “progress” now seems out of reach for much of the children of that middle-class and for recent immigrants. So where is America going? What will happen to an America where honest and bipartisan discussion of real public policy problems is muffled by cable show sensationalism and campaign politics? Can we do better?
Immigration is not only about people staying in America without a proper visa or citizen status; it is also about the American continent and the millions of people that have called it home for well over a thousand years. From the perspective of native Americans the question is: Who is the illegal immigrant, pilgrim? This includes millions of modern day South of the border Latinos whose ancestors have roamed across the Rio Grande for thousands of years. From the perspective of the Eurocentric 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation American the clamor is: Go back to where you came from; you are not a real American. As America fails to sustain a middle-class and integrate new immigrants it dies a thousand deaths one broken dream at a time. Mortgage foreclosures, drug abuse, urban decay, and dead end jobs that cannot pay for healthcare or sustain a family are but a few of the pervasive signs that America is not only divided but headed in the wrong direction.
Complex public policy issues are never about one variable, one social or economic dynamic or simple yes or no choices. Today’s media industry continually portrays a false choice in a tug of war between one dimensional unilateral actions to protect the perceived interests of one side against those of another. In reality, public policy issues are characterized by complex social and economic dynamics that impact many publics and present several choices in terms of:
- acting or not acting,
- who (government or the philanthropic sector, for example) should act,
- who should pay and
- how much it will all cost.
The outcome of those choices and the quality of that debate ultimately impacts the cultural and economic health of the country.
American is killing its life source–IMMIGRANTS. As such, it is killing itself. For this we can all agree President Obama has failed to lead in this most important of public policy problems.
“AS A presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama promised to enact immigration reform during his first year in office. Although his party controlled both arms of Congress for the next two years, he barely tried. Instead, he has presided over the greatest mass deportation in American history. As our chart shows, he has tossed far more Mexicans and other illegal immigrants out of the country than his predecessors—nearly 2m so far. Spending on border security is now greater than on all other types of federal criminal-law enforcement combined. Since migrants bring youth, energy and enterprise, this is an expensive way of making America less dynamic (as our leader this week explains). And the human costs are immense (read our story here). Families are torn apart; lives ruined. Yet many House Republicans still insist that they will not back immigration reform because they cannot trust President Obama to defend the border.”