July 20, 2018
“To win on the immigration front, we've got to have success on the civic engagement and voter turnout.”
Brent Wilkes is the former CEO of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and a lifelong advocate for Latino rights. We discuss what fair and comprehensive immigration could be, the positive contribution by immigrant labor to the US economy, and how we can demand sound immigration policy at the ballot box.
Our economy depends on immigrant labor
Immigrants are doing some of the hardest jobs in America for the lowest amount of pay, such as producing food, building houses, and providing care. Labor abuse is common with undocumented workers, as their status makes them particularly vulnerable. Providing a path to legalization for these individuals is the least we can do.
Comprehensive immigration reform
The goal is to help out-of-status residents, those who work hard and contribute to the economy, to get right with the law. Three major focus areas are: the Dreamers, children who were brought to the US by their parents as minors; the agricultural sector, which produces major exports to the rest of the world and is a traditional employer of immigrants; and the rest are laborers in other industries, such as care giving or construction.
Voter turnout is the answer
Immigrants have historically come to America from all over the world to pursue their dreams. We need to remember that our ancestors were once immigrants too, and be more welcoming to those who are pursuing the American dream today. The best way to win on immigration and encourage people to vote is to raise awareness, talk to people who are different than you, and show them that they are included in the process.
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Brent Wilkes is the former CEO of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). He was recently given the Lifetime Achievement, Excellence in Community Service Award by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.