Immigration reform is vitally important for the U.S. economy, says former Secretary of State George Shultz, who also headed the Treasury and Labor departments at various times.
"Concerning immigration in North America, it should be noted that with fertility in Mexico declining, and an expanding Mexican economy that is now more than competitive with China in many ways, net immigration of Mexicans to the U.S. last year was zero," he writes in The Wall Street Journal
"Meanwhile, approximately 70 percent of the people who work on farms in this country are immigrants, legal and illegal. The U.S. needs them. All this underlines the importance of sensible reform in the U.S. immigration system."
To help make his case for immigration reform, Shultz, now a distinguished fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, harkens back to President Ronald Reagan's strong support for immigration during his last formal statement from the White House on Jan. 19, 1989, the day before his presidency ended.
"We lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people — our strength — from every country and every corner of the world. And by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation," Reagan said.
"While other countries cling to the stale past, here in America we breathe life into dreams. We create the future, and the world follows us into tomorrow. Thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we're a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge, always leading the world to the next frontier.
"This quality is vital to our future as a nation. If we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost."
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