Karen Narasaki: Honor immigrants for contributions

December 17, 2010

Dec. 18 marks the 10th anniversary of the United Nations’ designation of International Migrants Day.

For Americans, this is a day to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions that immigrants make to our country.

Since America’s earliest days, immigrants have boosted our economy through their ingenuity and hard work. Immigrants open businesses, build our homes, feed our nation, watch our children and serve in our armed forces regardless of their immigration status.

When the 112th Congress convenes next month, lawmakers should step up and reform our broken immigration system. We need fair and humane immigration reform that promotes family unity, fulfills our tradition of due process and respects immigrants’ dignity.

This is not only the right thing to do, but it would also boost our struggling economy.

According to research by UCLA professor Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, if the country’s nearly 12 million undocumented immigrants gained legal status, it would add $1.1 trillion to our GDP within a decade.

Americans are rightfully proud of our immigrant history.

On the 10th anniversary of International Migrants Day, we should remember the contributions made by all immigrants — and we should work toward positive reforms that honor their contributions.

Karen K. Narasaki is president and executive director of the Asian American Justice Center, a member of the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice. She wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues.