Friday, November 21, 2014


                                     Comments due Nov. 30, 2014
The Tenement Museum, on the Lower East Side, is one of my favorite places in New York City. It’s a Civil War-vintage building that housed successive waves of immigrants, and a number of apartments have been restored to look exactly as they did in various eras, from the 1860s to the 1930s (when the building was declared unfit for occupancy). When you tour the museum, you come away with a powerful sense of immigration as a human experience, which — despite plenty of bad times, despite a cultural climate in which Jews, Italians, and others were often portrayed as racially inferior — was overwhelmingly positive.
I get especially choked up about the Baldizzi apartment from 1934. When I described its layout to my parents, both declared, “I grew up in that apartment!” And today’s immigrants are the same, in aspiration and behavior, as my grandparents were — people seeking a better life, and by and large finding it.
That’s why I enthusiastically support President Obama’s new immigration initiative. It’s a simple matter of human decency.
That’s not to say that I, or most progressives, support open borders. You can see one important reason right there in the Baldizzi apartment: the photo of F.D.R. on the wall. The New Deal made America a vastly better place, yet it probably wouldn’t have been possible without the immigration restrictions that went into effect after World War I. For one thing, absent those restrictions, there would have been many claims, justified or not, about people flocking to America to take advantage of welfare programs.
Furthermore, open immigration meant that many of America’s worst-paid workers weren’t citizens and couldn’t vote. Once immigration restrictions were in place, and immigrants already here gained citizenship, this disenfranchised class at the bottom shrank rapidly, helping to create the political conditions for a stronger social safety net. And, yes, low-skill immigration probably has some depressing effect on wages, although the available evidence suggests that the effect is quite small.
So there are some difficult issues in immigration policy. I like to say that if you don’t feel conflicted about these issues, there’s something wrong with you. But one thing you shouldn’t feel conflicted about is the proposition that we should offer decent treatment to children who are already here — and are already Americans in every sense that matters. And that’s what Mr. Obama’s initiative is about.
Who are we talking about? First, there are more than a million young people in this country who came — yes, illegally — as children and have lived here ever since. Second, there are large numbers of children who were born here — which makes them U.S. citizens, with all the same rights you and I have — but whose parents came illegally, and are legally subject to being deported.
What should we do about these people and their families? There are some forces in our political life who want us to bring out the iron fist — to seek out and deport young residents who weren’t born here but have never known another home, to seek out and deport the undocumented parents of American children and force those children either to go into exile or to fend for themselves.

The real question, then, is how we’re going to treat them. Will we continue our current regime of malign neglect, denying them ordinary rights and leaving them under the constant threat of deportation? Or will we treat them as the fellow Americans they already are?

The truth is that sheer self-interest says that we should do the humane thing. Today’s immigrant children are tomorrow’s workers, taxpayers and neighbors. Condemning them to life in the shadows means that they will have less stable home lives than they should, be denied the opportunity to acquire skills and education, contribute less to the economy, and play a less positive role in society. Failure to act is just self-destructive.
But speaking for myself, I don’t care that much about the money, or even the social aspects. What really matters, or should matter, is the humanity. My parents were able to have the lives they did because America, despite all the prejudices of the time, was willing to treat them as people. Offering the same kind of treatment to today’s immigrant children is the practical course of action, but it’s also, crucially, the right thing to do. So let’s applaud the president for doing it.
(P. Krugman)


Anonymous said...

The issue with immigration is about people. People being born in one country and having that culture be theirs for their entire lives, and another group of people who have adapted a different culture from the one that they grew up with. Our cultural issues are a main problem, but we must think of people as people and we cannot blanket all cases of people into one group.
Though it is a part of the American culture; immigration is a part of almost everyone's heritage and there is nothing wrong with that, it is the group of people who have forgotten that they are immigrants and act as if their families have been here for the entirety of the continent.
All people should be given equal opportunity, but not all people are open and accepting that difference and diversity is a good thing.

Beverly Levine

Anonymous said...

This article talks about the issue of immigration. For the most part, immigrants coming to this country are simply looking for a better life. On the whole, most of these people do in fact get this better life. A big problem is that immigrants are obviously not citizens and cannot vote. They are paid poorly and cannot vote so they have absolutely no voice in government. They want a better life but are unable to get it because they are not citizens. So many of the immigrants are close to being deported that they have no chance to make a name for themselves in America, which is very discouraging.
-Nick Bellantese

Vinona Rugova said...

Immigration is a large controversy in the United States. Many feel comfortable with admitting that American is a melting pot of many different nationalities, but some people are hostile towards immigrants. Even though we are a country made up of immigrants. It is so pleasing to hear that President Obama's new initiative allows up to four million undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least five years to now apply for a program that protects them from deportation and allows the people with no criminal record to work legally in the country. This is exactly what the country needed.

Anonymous said...

Immigration is a touchy subject today but its existence is as old as our country. People came here on suffering though horrific conditions on the under carriage of ships for months on end just to catch a disease and get sent back the exact same way. Yes all people are here because of immigration however there is a difference between legally coming into this country and illegally getting here.
Colleen Carroll

Nick Leader said...

This article is about immigration. Immigration is a huge topic for our country speaking that our country is built from immigrants. Our country is called the "melting pot" because of all the different immigrants with different nationalities. The issue is if they are legal or not. There are a lot of immigrants who live here illegally who have had children born here. Technically the child is a U.S. citizen born with all the rights that we have. But because the parents are here illegally, they and the child are deported back to their home country. The confusing thing about this is that The U.S. is the only home the child knows. Immigration has been and will continue to be a tricky topic.

Matthew Kurdewan said...

This article is about the issue of immigration in this country. The author brings up the immigrates of the past and talks about how most of the current people living in this country were immigrants, or ancestors of immigrants. The author is in favor of President Obama's new immigration bill and supports the immigrants coming into the country today. The author states that they are coming to this country, just like immigrants of the past, in search for a better life. The author says that they should have the right to strive to make the best of their life and believes if it is in America then they can come into the country and work for the better life.

Alexa Lauro said...

Illegal immigrant children should be treated as legal citizens. It’s not their fault that their parents brought them to America for a better life. Even if they’re born here and their parents weren’t they are deported from the country. As the article states, these children are America’s future workers, taxpayers and neighbors. Kicking someone out of a place that they were raised in and what they only know is totally inhumane. There are many different opinions on illegal immigrants, but in all reality most of them just want to work hard and provide for their families.

Domenick Luongo said...

Paul Krugman's article is giving president Obama praise for his new immigration laws. In this article Krugman says letting all the illegal immigrants keep living under the poor conditions they are currently living in, is putting this country on a path of self destruction. I agree with the author, denying the opportunity of what so many immigrant believe is a better life to immigrants who have kids in this country is only counter productive in the long run. This article is not about money or the economy as much as it is about humanity and generally being a good person.

Brittany King said...

This article discusses the humanity of immigration. In todays society the issue of immigration is a strong topic. Many individuals are in favor of immigration and Obamas new immigration initiative, while many are not. Obamas new immigration initiative would allow immigrants that have lived in the United States for at least five years to be protected from deportation and allow those with no criminal record to work legally within the country. Approving this initiative would legalize up to four million undocumented immigrants. Many who have given birth to children here, who are US Citizens.
The questions I have regarding this initiative is how will it be managed and what type of strain will it cause on our economic system. What benefits would they receive and what rights would these immigrants be entitled to? If all of these immigrants were to all of a sudden become entitled to all of the benefits the US has to offer there would be an increase in the funding required to continue providing benefits such as unemployment, social security, and Medicaid. Where would this money come from?

Stamyr R said...

The article informs us about President Obama's new immigration policy in America. There is a current issue arising throughout the United States regarding illegal immigrants and their individual status in the country. This article mostly focuses on the Children's role and sympathizes with the effects immigration has on them. There are children who were not born in the U.S. that moved there t an early age who are restricted to American rights although they technically are Americans themselves and will live on to contribute to the growth of our society. The article also informs us about children whose parents are illegal immigrants who face deportation because of it. I agree with this article and think that children who are basically citizens should be treated as such. Citizenship should not have to do with the place of birth but one's participation in the growth of the nation.

Doris Da Silva said...

Millions of undocumented immigrants have been living in the shadows scare of being deported and separated from their families. Most of these undocumented immigrants are only looking for a better life for their families, but how could they accomplish their dreams if they are not given a chance?
With President Obama’s new immigration initiative many of these undocumented immigrants can apply for a program that protects them from deportation and people with no criminal record would be allow to work legally in this country. This immigration initiative would definitely give many undocumented immigrants and their children relief of having to live a life of uncertainty. This is a country of opportunities and it is great that undocumented immigrants are going to be given the opportunity to prove themselves as they are people trying to reach the “American Dream” just like everyone else.

karthik said...

the article talks about the issue of immigration . personally as a legal alien immigrant in this country , i can relate to the issue. Most immigrants com here for a better life , like my dad did. but the big problem is that they are not treated equally , even if they are legal or illegal immigrants. They want a better life but they can't as they have so many boundaries and have to live in the shadow if they are illegal as they are scared of deportation and what would happen to their family.


Aly Rafeh said...

This article is about immigration. The article talks about people coming to this country illegally, usually for a better life. Since these immigrants come to his country illegally, they do not realize that they are not able to vote and therefore have no say in how the country is to be run.

Anonymous said...

The plan that President Obama has implemented is a great plan. The issue for immigration has always been a problem in the United States. The United States is the land of opportunity and people from all ethnicities come here to achieve some type of economic success. Obama would have to get past congress because congress dosent want to spend money on such a plan. It is a stick situation because deporting kids that are not here legally and haven't lived anywhere else isn't right morally. There needs to be a solution to immigration because it has been going on for awhile.

Bryan Rivers

Ryan Aquino said...

The subject of immigration has been an issue for many years now in the United States. Immigration, whether we like it or not, has become a major component in our culture in that we welcome all cultures into our society. Although this is true, not every American accepts this component of our nation in which they do not accept certain races or nationalities. In a perfect world this dislike for diversity in our nation wouldn't exist, but as our economy has proven over the past several years, we do not live in a perfect world. Immigration is something that will not be changed in our country and it is something we should grow accustomed to. It will end up creating a better and more openly cultural society.

Anonymous said...

This article discusses the issues of immigration and Obama's decision with it. There is a very big issue regarding illegal immigration and the status they have here in America. Some say that they should be sent back to their country, some say that they should have to wait years until they can be a legal citizen here. Obama's plan would protect immigrants. It would give them an opportunity to get a job, an opportunity to have a family, an opportunity to live the American dream. But this will be hard to pass by congress because it will take a decent amount of money to run this program, and some think that it is not worth it to pay all of that money . I don't know my personal opinion on this topic but I needs to be solved soon

-Marissa Cotroneo