Condoleezza Rice on Immigration
Secretary of State
We must continue to welcome the world's most ambitious people to be a part of us. In that way, we stay young and optimistic and determined. We need immigration laws that protect our borders, meet our economic needs, and yet show that we are a compassionate nation of immigrants.
A: Well, we need a comprehensive immigration reform. Everybody knows that we need people to respect our laws. And that needs to be said first. But it is also the case that we are a country of immigrants. We are a country that has been tremendously benefited by bringing the people to the US who want to work hard; who believe in the kind of free environment that we have here. They’ve built this country and they will continue to build this country if we can remain open. I believe that this country is going to have to have enlightened immigration policies if we’re going to stay this strong, competitive, open magnet for the best and brightest from around the world that we’ve been.
We must seek to create travel documents for the 21st century that can protect personal identity and expedite secure travel.
We must conduct smarter screening in every place that we encounter travelers, whether at a consulate abroad or at a port of entry into the United States.
It can’t just be the case that to immigrate illegally is somehow considered proper. It isn’t.
A: A lot of the knowledge-based immigration is not European. It is Asian. If you go down to Intel and you stand in the elevator, the software engineers around you are likely to be Pakistani or Indian or Israeli or Russian, but I do not think that it is causing a backlash, maybe because the economy is so strong. There are people who want to make it a backlash, but it is not really resonating.
The long-term challenge is that as job creation is happening at the high end, the skill level of the population is not really picking up. So education has become a kind of surrogate hot-button issue for this divide between people who can work in Silicon Valley and people who cannot. And because it is partly disproportionately minorities who are not making it into those jobs that is a real danger. It is less focused on foreigners coming here to do that than it is the ill-preparedness of Americans.
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