The Audacity of Hope: Si se puede
On the eve of November 4, 2008, America no longer needed to speak of the audacity of hope. Instead, with the election of Barack Obama, our country spoke of the power and rebirth of hope. In the words of a woman from Italy: “Your country has renewed all that is possible. Welcome back America!”
With the rebirth of hope comes the rebirth of opportunities in the immigration spectrum. Will we see immediate changes to our immigration laws such as amnesty? Of course not. This is too highly charged an area for any new (or even old) administration to wade into. Will we, however, see positive changes in the near future? Yes, for the possibilities under an Obama administration that has won office due to the backing of Hispanic voters (among, of course, so many others) are endless. First, however, we will see an end to the message of the old regime’s “enforcement only” policy and the stirring of hatred by branding all Latinos as illegal immigrants and law breakers. Diversity will be understood and respected rather than feared. A multi-colored, multi-cultural America will look out on the world with new eyes and will go forward with the message communicated long ago by Bill Clinton: we are all the same, but for a tiny difference in our DNA.
The new administration will first tackle the economy. Intrinsic in an economic package is the understanding that small businesses, many run by immigrants, are the driving force of any strong economy. Intrinsic in this economic package is an understanding that by keeping the present quota of both non-immigrant and immigrant visa numbers for professionals at their current levels, new talent, many of whom have been trained in the U.S. in our universities, will be forced to return home and set up shop there. Unless and until these immigration quotas are adjusted to reflect our needs, the next Indian, Chinese or Colombian born Bill Gates will create thousands of jobs not in the U.S. but in competing countries. The future foreign born scientists who will assist America to develop the “new IT industry”, energy technology, as Thomas Friedman reminds us, must be kept in the U.S. so that this new industry will “fuel” America’s new economic growth. The Obama administration “gets it” on immigration; let us hope that it moves thoughtfully and swiftly by putting an end to immigration raids and turning instead to increases in legal immigration which will benefit our economy.
Tuesday night ends eight years of hate and darkness. On the eve of November 4, 2008, America has been presented with new opportunities, new possibilities. President-elect Obama will be sternly judged as he pursues these new opportunities but so, too, shall we as Americans. Perhaps now the Spanish cabdriver at the airport in Madrid, who demanded to know why we Americans had not thrown out an administration that had deceived us when his countrymen had just thrown out their President for that very reason, will now turn to us with renewed respect. It is our job, as a nation, to show the world how America respects and treats its immigrants in this time of renewed hope and renewed expectations. The joint and perhaps Don Quixote task of rebuilding America begins today, but it begins with both joy and promise.