You would have to be living under a rock to not notice all of the attention being given to the issue of immigration reform right now. Conservatives have sometimes appeared to want the issue to go away entirely – yet it will not. And it should not. Republicans will now control both houses of Congress and this is our chance to lead on this issue. We can fix the broken system our way. Our conservative values should mean that we are stronger on immigration and we need a system that strengthens America.
The President’s recent executive order won’t address the root causes of our broken system, and so there is still an enormous opportunity for Republicans to enact real improvements and address the structural problems he is choosing to ignore. We need a modern immigration system that drives our economy rather than ignores it. We need to attract and retain the workers our farms, our laboratories, and industries across the economy need to compete and grow. That requires an immigration system that responds to bull markets and bear markets by adjusting the number of visas we allocate according to the needs of our economy. To address these needs we need the Republican-led congress to pass comprehensive legislation.
The President’s executive order won’t change anything. The economic imperative for Congress to enact immigration reform still exists.
Reforming our immigration laws will help promote new business growth – a goal that many immigrants and conservatives share. A Partnership for a New American Economy report shows that in 2011, immigrants started 28 percent of all new U.S. businesses and contributed more than $775 billion dollars in revenue to our Gross Domestic Product. Foreign-born researchers and students at our nation’s colleges also help spark business innovation with new products and ideas. This reports shows that more than 75 percent of all patents awarded at our top universities had at least one immigrant inventor involved in their production. Foreign-born investors also help bolster the economy, accounting for over 80 percent of investments in cutting-edge industries like information technology and digital communications.
Republicans must act now to create a more streamlined immigration policy based on market-driven principles. A market-based approach will drive new job creation and increase economic growth nationwide.
In addition to very powerful economic reasons for reform – there are also political ones as well that we cannot ignore.
Many people hold the mistaken belief that immigrant voters in the United States are predominantly liberal. However, another recent PNAE study found that notion is simply not true. In fact, more than 50 percent of immigrants do not identify with either the Republican or Democratic Party. These votes are up for grabs. And, it is imperative that Republicans thoughtfully consider issues important to this growing and politically unaffiliated group of voters.
This study also found that immigrants and conservatives often hold many of the same moral and religious values. In fact, 73 percent of Hispanics who identify as Evangelical Christians were opposed to abortion, compared to only 43 percent of the U.S. population as a whole. Fifty-three percent of black immigrants oppose gay marriage, which is nine percentage points higher than the national average. And, 22 percent of immigrant voters cited “moral values” as the most influential factor in determining their votes in the 2004 election.
Younger immigrants also tend to be more religious and conservative than their U.S.-born counterparts. 41 percent of immigrants aged 18-29, rank religion as being “very important.” Due their strong religious faith and personal commitment to family, many immigrants indicate they would respond favorably to a conservative message if Republicans would act on the issue of immigration reform.
Conservatives must recognize the profound impact that immigrants have on America’s economic, cultural and political life. By implementing meaningful immigration reforms, Republicans can help fix the ineffective and broken system we have in place today. The result will not only create jobs and build businesses, but also help Republicans gain support from this important group of voters.
[Featured image: Donkey Hotey]