It's time to embrace an open immigration policy

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As Congress debates an immigration bill that increases border security and creates an amnesty route for domestic illegal immigrants, I find myself wondering, "Why can’t anyone just come here, fill out some paperwork and then start paying taxes? Why don’t we have an open immigration policy?"

Asking others these questions, I’ve found that there’s no good answer. Maybe the lack of open immigration policy is just xenophobia or a resistance to change or new ideas. After all, the anti-immigrant mentality can be traced back to the “Know-Nothing” party of the 1860’s. This mentality isn’t a relatively new idea in American politics, it’s just not a beneficial one.

As Republicans are eager to point out, immigrants — Latinos in particular — are thought to be generally hardworking, have strong family values, and yearn to have better lives for their children, according to a study by the Pew Hispanic Center. Does this sound familiar? These are people just like our ancestors who were trying to achieve the American Dream. Is there really any good reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to live here?

Our country can only stand to benefit, especially from an economic perspective, by allowing more law-abiding, motivated, and hardworking citizens into this country.

Additionally, if we had an open immigration policy, the STAPLE (Stopping Trained in America PhDs From Leaving the Economy) Act wouldn’t even be debated. According to Mark Zuckerberg in The Washington Post, 40 percent of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Ph.D. candidates get educated in American universities and then go elsewhere to apply their skills. The STAPLE Act tries to keep these intelligent people in our country by “stapling” a green card to their diploma. An open immigration policy solves this problem altogether.

Our fragile economy can’t afford to lose these intelligent, highly motivated immigrants, and it also can’t afford to lose workers who may not have a college education but can still contribute to our economy.

Every single model of economic growth shows that the economy grows when more people work. At a time when economic growth has stalled, adding more people to the workforce at any skill level will increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

An open immigration policy might be a great way to get the economy going again. Additionally, it might allow us to document the illegal immigrants who live here already so they can start paying taxes.

Finally, an open immigration policy is simply the moral thing to do. Living in the U.S. shouldn’t only be possible to those lucky few who happen to have been born here, know someone, or marry a citizen. Anyone who wants to live in America should be able to.

We pride ourselves on being the “great American melting pot.” That shouldn't stop because we’re afraid of a few foreigners.

We stand to reap huge benefits by welcoming newcomers with open arms. As a nation of immigrants, we created the wealthiest country on Earth. We can keep that up by continuing the open immigration policy that we once had.