National security should always be a top concern of our elected leaders, but it should never be an excuse to marginalize those who are different or to abandon our country’s heritage as a nation of immigrants. Yet, that is exactly what Donald Trump has done over the past year, fomenting hostility toward immigrants generally—and Mexican and Muslim immigrants specifically—by blaming them for a range of perceived problems.
On Monday, he continued his pattern of stoking peoples’ fears about immigration, and, among other things, called for “extreme vetting.” It is his policies and rhetoric that are in need of some “extreme vetting.”
We have an obligation to fix and reform our nation’s immigration system, but that does not mean following the dangerous policies Donald Trump is proposing. The answer is not building a wall. The answer is not imposing a religious test.
Manufacturers know that immigration strengthens our country and our workplaces. As the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) outlined in our “Competing to Win” policy agenda, “Comprehensive immigration reform holds the power to transform not only manufacturing but also our nation and economy to new heights. Unfortunately, political inertia has held us back from achieving progress and needed reforms.”
The current system hurts our competitiveness as foreign-born talent, often educated in the United States, moves abroad to work, manufacture, innovate and compete against us.
The current system is denying people the opportunity to live up to their potential—and move our country forward in the process.
America’s economic frustrations are real, and concerns about national security are valid. However, shameless immigrant bashing and promises to wall off our country—literally and metaphorically—from the rest of the world will make us weaker.
As NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons has said, “We attract the best and the brightest, the most industrious, to our shores.” As a country, let us figure out how to empower immigrants—those who are here already and those who still yearn for freedom—to contribute to America’s success.