Gary Horton | A Deeper Dive Into Immigration

Gary Horton

Immigration and chaos at our southern borders are shaping up to be prime pressure points in our coming national elections. Long a problem of mixed messages, ever-changing border rules, and nebulous self-defeating national policy, our immigration policy and border security has become a hot potato everyone wants to talk about – but given recent changes of heart in the Republican congressional leadership – few apparently want to solve. To some, confusion and consternation at the border is a better election pain point than solving the problem itself … 

I agree with many that our society cannot absorb and inculcate indefinite quantities of people. There are financial, educational and cultural limits to process, accept and launch new people into our country. I agree we require a policy overhaul. Plainly, our immigration policy should reflect our cultural history, but also be specifically geared to attract and keep immigrants with skillsets America needs. There are limits to what we can uptake and we need to act now – not later. 

With aging boomers, America needs more caregivers, nurses and doctors. We also need farm laborers and construction workers. We need skilled staff up and down our tech industries and manufacturing industries. It’s reported America, after three years of economic expansion, still has nearly 3 million job openings. This is lost productivity and lost tax base revenue to our nation – a double whammy of lost opportunity.  

Our “nation of immigrants” is no longer growing organically – and immigration is required as Americans age out. This is a fact mature minds need to face. America mathematically requires immigrants to sustain our economy and to help power our nation into the future. We must tune our immigration realities to manageable levels, targeted to America’s needs and obligations, while we guide our immigrants toward citizenship and contribution to our nation. 

I am the founder and owner of a large landscape company. As such, I’ve seen many first-generation immigrants come to work.  

My 45-year career has yielded overwhelmingly great experiences with those in our workforce who were first-generation. Our first-generation immigrant folks are often the most dedicated, hardest, most purposeful staff. America remains a land of opportunity for most everyone willing to put their head down and work toward success for themselves and their families – and that’s what we usually see with those who’ve arrived from other countries. Hard work and family values? Immigrants usually have this in spades, often far more than us spoiled, self-absorbed natives! 

The other day I heard from a man we had hired some 30 years ago. He owns a beautiful home where he lives in Bakersfield. His kids all either graduated college or are still attending. One is in a police academy.  

Another works as an esteemed superintendent who has trained up hundreds of workers. He’s been married 35 years and also owns his own home. His kids all have attended/graduated college. All are model U.S. citizens. Hard working, taxpaying, law-abiding citizens. 

We use a family-owned cleaning company to come in and help in our home two hours a week. The husband-and-wife combo both arrived as political refugees from Salvador. They worked like crazy after arriving here and today they own a lovely home together here in the Santa Clarita Valley. They have only one child. Their daughter went to school here, and graduated UCLA. She’s currently in medical school, which the mom and dad are, again, working their butts off to pay for. Model citizens.  

A woman in our HR department arrived here from Mexico 30 years ago. Her first job was as a boutique counter girl at the Macy’s. She married a local high school teacher. Their only child, also a daughter, graduated from UC Santa Cruz, and is now in law school at UC San Diego. 

Our fleet director immigrated from Venezuela during their political upheavals. She was already highly educated and came here, ready to go. She has a professional career with us while her husband runs his own company doing real estate assessments. Ditto on the college thing with her kids, also. 

These stories go on and on. And while not all stories include the college component, nearly all have a strong devotion to families and financial success, which is increasingly faltering in America. 

Yes, America builds dreams for those willing to work for it.  

My career-long experience with immigrant workers has been overwhelmingly positive. Stories like these I’ve shared are far more common than not. Over and again, I see dedication to family, high work ethic with purpose and a view to the future. 

Those “drug dealers and rapists poisoning the blood of our country” you hear politicians and pundits screaming about? These guys must have gone to work for someone else, as I’ve never really experienced it with thousands of workers over 45 years.  

Do immigrant criminals exist? Plainly so. But so too, in overwhelming majority, the law-abiding, motivated immigrant folks I’ve highlighted above.  

America is fortunate to have the “problem” of so many in the world literally dying to get in. Few other countries are so attractive to motivated immigrants.  

Our obligation and opportunity for our nation is to straighten our immigration policy now – to bring focus and purpose to our polices, to screen immigrants, to build civic training, and to stop treating this as a political football. Rather, we must use our national desirability as a sharp tool to enhance America’s future. We must do so with national purpose, structured discipline and humane interaction. 

We can experience the good things motivated immigrants bring to America while filtering out criminal elements currently highlighted in political discourse. What is needed is action – not more political discourse and posturing. 

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS