Jim Crawford: Return to normal immigration policies is needed

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 15, 2022

There are not enough flight attendants, so airlines are having to cancel flights every day.

There are not enough restaurant workers, so some restaurants are closing one or two days a week.

There are not enough skilled laborers, so manufacturers are trying to hire, without much success.

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The big picture is that America has 11 million jobs open and no one to fill them. After the pandemic’s effects waned, we found out many of the Baby Boomers just were not coming back to work.

They quit, retired and went to the beach, but they absolutely did not go back to work. Likewise, many low-paid workers, who had lacked benefits and living wages, simply walked off the job when the world shut down and did not go back to jobs they found meaningless.

Nurses have left their profession after the stresses they suffered during the pandemic, and, in the U.S. alone, we need 1.1 million new nurses to replace those who have retired or will retire in 2022.

All of this in a thriving economic recovery, with 11 consecutive months of job growth, and an unemployment rate of only 3.6 percent. Over 6.6 million jobs have been created since Biden took office, the largest number ever for any president in his first year in office.

The problem is the elephant in the room. Historically, when we have had more jobs than workers, we invited legal immigrants to come and work and prosper with us.

After Trump won the presidency, he went about destroying our 240-year immigration system by turning away qualified refugees, families with children, and, by 2020, with Rule 42 in place, anyone and everyone.

Today we have nearly 10 million people waiting for their legal immigration paperwork to be processed by the U.S. government. They are seeking Green Cards, work permits, asylum and citizenship. And the backlog will take time and funding to bring them into the workforce.

Additionally, with the end of Rule 42, a COVID response, we will likely see an influx of families seeking asylum and a chance for a new beginning. We need to speed up the process and return to our normal immigration policies, setting aside forever the sheer brutality of the Trump years of intentionally separating families. Only then can we fill 11 million jobs with workers eager to prove themselves.

Of course, our Republican friends are using immigration as a dog whistle for American racists to decry as ruining America. They will tell you immigrants will take your job, rob your house and assault your wife. That appeal is directed at folks who Trump invited out of hiding and Republicans now want in their fold.

In May of this year, Rule 42 will end, and American immigration policies will return to normal.

Republicans, in their cynical posturing, will be telling you that Joe Biden is destroying America by returning to the immigration policies that have grown our nation for over two centuries.

The country is rebounding more strongly than any other western nation and we need to seed and feed our continued growth. Ignore those who would appeal to your darkest instincts.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.