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Staying rational on immigration under dire circumstances –“Brussels”

It’s one of those occasional grand ironies when life should make you stop and think.

Terrorist bombs kill 31 in Brussels. Immigrant refugees continue to flood Europe. But, “America benefits from robust immigration“. And, Andrew Grove dies.

In the wake of yet another horrific act of terrorism — the Brussels bombings, apparently implicating a few crazed travelers from the Mideast — as well as  the unrelenting dilemma of a million new refugees in Europe, it’s very difficult to focus on the positive context of immigration. 

Nevertheless, even in the understandable “heat of the day-after”, some very different recent events are worth pondering. This, lest the xenophobic diatribes now heard in the U.S. presidential campaign gain further traction.

From The Wall Street Journal:  “A new non-partisan study on entrepreneurship gives some credence to the tech industry’s stance that American innovation benefits from immigration … The study shows that immigrants started more than half of the current crop of U.S-based startups valued at $1 billion of more …

“Tech leaders including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates have called for increasing the number of H-1B visas that let skilled foreign workers stay in the country.”

The sponsor of the new study, The Kauffman Foundation-funded National Foundation for American Policy, earlier noted that: “While historically, immigrants have always made valuable contributions to the country, objective measures indicate those contributions have increased significantly since the 1960s (when major restrictions on immigration were lifted), and, in particular, over the past 20 years (as immigrants have found important niches in science and technology fields).”

Andrew Grove manifested that rags-to-riches immigrant story. A penniless youth who spoke little English when he immigrated to the U.S., in 1997 he was chosen Time magazine’s Man of the Year as “the person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and innovating potential of microchips.” Grove, certainly not flawless, nevertheless became one of the most acclaimed and influential personalities of the computer and Internet era.

Surely, we can now better marshal the strengths of global society in confronting terrorism without succumbing to the self-defeating measures of oppression of our immigrant minorities.