Rayson Lorrey: Immigrants often provide value that many politicians don't see

My wife is an immigrant. She served the country in the U.S. Air Force. She has compassionately treated thousands of patients in her career as a physician. She has made my life immeasurably better.

Immigrants make our country a great country.

Yet, considering the season we just enjoyed, it is disheartening to know that Joseph of Nazareth — an Aramaic speaker, a man with a beard, a robe and a complexion darker than northern European — would be barred from entry to our country by most of the presidential candidates.

The book of Matthew in the Bible portrays Joseph, his wife and son as refugees fleeing imminent danger. Our timid, blustering, fearful and bullying candidates would slam the door on Joseph and his family.

We have grown to expect selfish non-solutions from Republican politicians. Ted Cruz, himself born in Canada, favors massive restrictions on immigration. Marco Rubio, a 14th Amendment birthright U.S. citizen, now proposes removing that right from others.


But Democrats, too, have become cowards incapable of doing the right thing. First District Rep. Tim Walz targets Syrian refugees, brothers and sisters of Joseph of Nazareth, and thus disgraces himself and our nation.

Canada will take 50,000 Syrian refugees or more by the end of 2016. Our good neighbor has the courage to help those in need.

One might not realize it from debates aimed at a small fragment of society, but there is wide agreement that immigration is essential. The public and the business community, as in the case of gay marriage, are miles ahead of our politicians.

At a party I attended for a Mayo Clinic researcher, the dozen guests hailed from Japan, Cameroon, Taiwan, South Africa, China, Brazil and India as well as the U.S. The free and open meeting of creative minds here in the U.S. makes us strong.

Immigration is absolutely essential for Rochester. We will need Latinos, Africans, Asians and Europeans to fill the jobs provided by growth in the coming decades. We educate thousands of foreign students in our colleges and universities and then kick them out of the country. Those graduates could be the bright future of Rochester, and the nation, if we only had the courage to invite them.

Sadly, the tone of the presidential debates has damaged our ability to attract immigrants. That damage harms us all. An anti-immigration stance is simply anti-American — it is contrary to our best interests.

Within days of 9/11, George W Bush said, "Islam is peace." He understood the need for embracing immigration and immigrants, including Muslims, better than any of the current Republican candidates. We ought remember his words and show welcoming courage and compassion to refugees and immigrants alike.

Rayson Lorrey, of Rochester, is a member of the Post-Bulletin's Community Editorial Advisory Board.

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