Brooks Ballenger: Our confused view of immigrants

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A visitor walks through a memorial along a road leading to a park at the base of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge on May 12 in Baltimore. Six immigrant workers — from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico — were killed in the collapse.

A visitor walks through a memorial along a road leading to a park at the base of the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge on May 12 in Baltimore. Six immigrant workers — from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico — were killed in the collapse. AP

Published: 05-30-2024 5:40 PM

The recent Gazette article on the difficulties immigrant doctors face in getting licensed to practice, reminded me of our national confusion about immigration. There’s a serious shortage of doctors and nurses in the U.S., yet when qualified people come here from other countries, we make it all but impossible for them to qualify and practice.

When the Francis Scott Key bridge collapsed one cold night in Baltimore , eight construction workers were working on it.

Six of them died. They were all immigrants, coming from Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. I don’t recall any government officials thanking them for their work. Were they less American than we who benefit from their work?

Politicians of both parties like to say that we are being overrun with “dangerous” immigrants. They say we’re in danger from folks who come seeking work and safety. This is far from the truth. In fact, as the pandemic eased, our economy was in danger of recession for lack of workers. They called it the “labor shortage.” The fact that we didn’t go into recession was due, in part, to the immigrants who filled those jobs.

When our bridges and roads need fixing, when the elderly need caretakers, when farmers need workers to grow our food, it’s often immigrants who do that work. Immigrants contribute billions to our Social Security Trust Fund, In fact, Social Security would be in big trouble without the contributions of immigrant workers. Yet many of them will never have a chance to collect in retirement.

Brooks Ballenger

Amherst

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