Opinion | Scott M. Estill: We are a nation of immigrants
Has anyone else noticed how easy it is to find a job in Summit County now? Not necessarily a high paying, nice benefits type of job, but a job, nevertheless. The ads at the back of this paper reflect this reality. We need more people to fill these jobs. We need more immigrants.
There are approximately 300 Indigenous Americans in Summit County and about 6.9 million in in the United States. This represents just 2% of the U.S. population and less than 1% in Summit County. If you are not part of one of the 566 currently recognized American Indian tribes, you and your family fall into the “immigrant” camp.
Future U.S President and current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (“Trump with a brain” as Fortune Magazine boasted) enjoys political stunts and he seems to be enjoying his most recent one involving immigration.
Here’s the narrative: We don’t want people who are here illegally to be in Florida and so we’ll ship them north to a place that does want them. Fair enough, except for the fact that “these people” are in the U.S. legally and they are not in the state of Florida. Yet, Florida is paying $12 million to take care of the costs of “shipping” this human cargo to Massachusetts and other so-called sanctuary states. I would suggest that fiscally conservative Republicans should be outraged over the waste of taxpayer resources to solve a non-problem for the taxpayers of the Sunshine State.
When the DeSantis family immigrated to the U.S, they arrived in 1904 from Italy and were immediately offered a free, all-expenses paid flight courtesy of the Florida taxpayers to a more welcoming environment. No, actually they weren’t — commercial flights were few and far between in 1904. They were likely discriminated against and treated like every other group of recent-arrival American immigrants. But they were given a chance to succeed and to date they, along with millions of others, have thrived. They have made our nation great. Presumably, DeSantis sees the irony in his current treatment of those who are in the same boat, so to speak, as his family was just a short 120 years ago. I don’t think he’s stupid.
These are people with real lives and real struggles. They have been through a lot to get this far. To say that they should not be used as political pawns in a game of human chess goes without saying, although of course it needs to be said. We should also review history, as the parallels between the past use of busing Black Americans from the south to the north as a “reverse freedom ride” and the current immigration stunts are too close for comfort.
Why not send these freedom-seeking people to Colorado? Colorado is considered to be a sanctuary state (meaning that the state will limit cooperation with federal immigration officials in a “states rights” fashion). Colorado would be getting a group of people who may not speak English as a first (or second or third) language but who will be willing to fight for their lives to live in this country. This country was built on people exactly like these. Industrious, often persecuted for their political and/or religious beliefs, and looking for their family to be free from government torture and death, they seek out a fresh start into a country that should be welcoming them with open arms. I also realize that this is not likely to be a popular opinion.
The current unemployment rate in Florida is 2.7%. Here in Colorado, it is 3.3% and more specifically, around 2% in Summit County. There is a reason many retail locations cannot find enough workers to open their stores on a full-time basis: a simple shortage on the supply side of available employees. If Florida decides that it doesn’t want these folks to provide a rich cash-flow into the businesses of the state, Colorado should agree to a deal: Florida taxpayers will pay to transport the most qualified asylum seekers to us in Colorado, where our businesses can obtain the economic benefits of a motivated workforce. This says nothing of the cultural and other societal benefits integrating new immigrants into our diverse population will accrue.
Yes, I am aware of the “problems” that come with this welcome mat: The supply of workforce housing is already ridiculously low in relation to the demand, along with a host of societal issues, including religious affiliation, lack of English proficiency, different clothing and other cultural differences that will result in some discriminatory treatment upon arrival into our communities. Of course, the same could be said about any prior generation of immigrants.
For those who agree with politicians like DeSantis on the immigration issue, perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror and ask yourself a question that musician David Byrne once asked: “How did I get here?”
Scott M. Estill’s column “Challenges, Choices, Changes” publishes biweekly on Thursdays in the Summit Daily News. Estill is an attorney, author, and public speaker who lives in Dillon when not traveling or attending to legal matters in Denver. Contact him at email@example.com.
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