Friday, September 1, 2017

How would a points-based immigration system (RAISE) predict the future?

I sent this to the Daily Post but has not appeared. At any rate.


In her Daily Post letter attacking a county proclamation supporting immigrants, Lisa Shin states that "...The RAISE Act would establish a skills-based points system and place a responsible limit on permanent residency for refugees..."

What I would be curious to know is how such a system would predict the future. For example, my grandfather and grandmother came over from Italy with few high level skills. Perhaps their most important skill was getting on the boat and then surviving Ellis Island. They raised five kids, one of whom was my mom. I recall, when staying with my grandmother as a kid, her commenting while canning the produce from my step-grandfather's orchard and garden,"grandpa and I were in the iron and steel business: I would iron and he would steal". She taught herself English (and Polish, since it was a mixed immigrant neighborhood) and had a wonderful sense of self-depreciating humor.

Grandpa died young in a motorcycle accident, leaving grandma to raise the brood. Their five kids grew up to be two WW II veterans, one of whom was an Army Corps of Engineers technocrat who worked on the Mount Morris Dam in Western NY after returning from the Southeast Asian Theatre. One worked on rockets as an electrical technician down at White Sands Proving Ground near Alamogordo after returning from battles in France and Germany. Younger brothers Joe and Al became well known musicians in New Orleans and Florida; Joe was one of the pioneers of be-bop. My mom was a legal secretary, singer, and social worker in Buffalo.

As far as my step-grandfather Mike, another Italian-American immigrant who worked in an auto plant and annually raised an acre of produce? His nephews (his brothers immigrated with him) became MD's.

I have one brother, a high tech guru, who was invited to be on President Obama's IRS Oversight Board and another who is a white collar supervisor with the Erie County Water Authority.

So it seems to me that what my grandparents may have lacked was opportunity in the old country, rather than innate talent, based on their kid's success. So unless these RAISE Act programs can somehow predict the future, I would wager that had such programs been functioning in the early 20th Century, we might have been short several WWII veterans, some musicians, a raft of doctors, and other variously-talented riff-raff. Just from my family alone. As far as "Making America Great Again" I think my barely-educated grandparents, if they are looking down at their offspring, have nothing for which to apologize.

Admittedly, its hard to predict if someone will be a success or a bust once they are here in the US, but suggesting RAISE will help rather than hurt the nation is speculation at best and arrogance at worst.

Khal Spencer, Ph.D.
Trying to keep up my Italian-American family's tradition of not being a slouch.

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