Letter: Assess our need for skilled, unskilled immigrant workers


You published a letter to the editor by Mr. Williams that raises an issue that concerns many Americans. He asks for solutions to what he sees as the urgent problem of “hordes” of immigrants coming from Latin America.

The first solution I would suggest is questioning his assumptions and the historical accuracy of his assertions.

The first assumption is that we don’t need unskilled immigrants. Census data shows that birth rates among non-immigrant Americans are declining in most ethnic most groups. To maintain our economy, we need people who can work in all sectors.

Estimates vary, but undocumented immigrants make up about 30% of the service industry, 15% of our construction industry, and some estimate up 70% of our agricultural workers.

This is it not new, Chinese immigrants built our railroads, Italian immigrants worked in our mines and textile industries, and Irish immigrants filled a range of low-skilled jobs.

American history is a story or uneducated immigrants working hard to better their families and build our nation.

We must also challenge the assumption that the original inhabits of America were somehow “a stone age culture” and Europeans were enlightened.

Take the birth of democracy, when Colonists debated what type of government to form, there were no truly functioning European democracies to emulate. Thus, John Adams wrote a handbook for the Constitutional Convention that surveyed European philosophies on democracy, but also included information on the Iroquois Indian Nations functioning democracy, as well as the democratic characteristics of other Native American tribes.

And let us not forget our European culture’s idea of democracy was limited enough that it gave birth to constitution that tacitly accepted the idea of slavery.

Like many Americans, I am proud of our democracy and am willing to fight for it. I, however, want to do so with a clear understanding of the demographic challenges facing this country and a reverence for our history as a nation of immigrants.

My proposed solution to the Latin American immigration problem is to make a unbiased assessment of our need for skilled and unskilled immigrant workers and then create a legal path to immigration and eventual citizenship for those who are willing to come here and work hard to help build our nation.

Ruth Kennedy


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