How im­mi­grants and di­ver­sity strengthen the US econ­omy

The Morning Call - - TOWN SQUARE - Mu­rat Guzel is CEO of White­hall Township-based Nat­u­ral Food Group, an or­ganic food and bev­er­age com­pany. He is the founder of the New Amer­i­cans Cau­cus of the Penn­syl­va­nia Demo­cratic Party and a mem­ber of the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee.

On Sept. 17, we cel­e­brate the 232nd an­niver­sary of the sign­ing of the Con­sti­tu­tion. In light of this im­por­tant an­niver­sary and as we head into an his­toric elec­tion de­fined in large part by im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy, I find my­self re­flect­ing on what truly makes Amer­ica great.

I im­mi­grated to the United States over 30 years ago. Like many im- mi­grants, I worked tire­lessly to not only com­plete course­work around my grad­u­ate de­gree, but also spent evenings per­fect­ing my English. What lit­tle free time I had on week­ends, I read sto­ries of our Found­ing Fathers and the dra­matic events dur­ing the sum­mer of 1787 in Philadel­phia.

The idea of nat­u­ral­iza­tion en­vi­sioned by our Found­ing Fathers was unique in the 18th cen­tury. To­day, more than ever be­fore in Amer­i­can his­tory, this is the Con­sti­tu­tion’s great­est con­tri­bu­tion to the con­cept of “Amer­ica.”

Alexander Hamil­ton, with an eye to­ward grow­ing the early Amer­i­can econ­omy, made clear, “Im­mi­grants ex­hibit a large pro­por­tion of in­ge­nious and valu­able work­men.”

Al­though so much has changed since the days of our Found­ing Fathers, nat­u­ral­ized U.S. cit­i­zens and their chil­dren still em­body this in­ge­nu­ity. Google, Tesla, Ya­hoo, Ama­zon and Pfizer are just a few ex­am­ples. In­deed, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study, 43% of For­tune 500 com­pa­nies were founded by im­mi­grants or their chil­dren.

Pres­i­dent James Madi­son, the pri­mary au­thor of the Con­sti­tu­tion, en­vi­sioned that the free­doms en­shrined in the Con­sti­tu­tion depend upon plu­ral­ism and di­ver­sity in Amer­i­can so­ci­ety. Dur­ing the Vir­ginia Rat­i­fy­ing Con­ven­tion, Madi­son ar­gued, “This free­dom arises from that mul­ti­plic­ity of sects which per­vades Amer­ica … for where there is such a va­ri­ety of sects, there can­not be a ma­jor­ity of any one sect to op­press and per­se­cute the rest.”

Sec­re­tary Hamil­ton re­al­ized that im­mi­grants bring a unique perspectiv­e to the Amer­i­can work­place. Pres­i­dent Madi­son re­al­ized that di­ver­sity of our pop­u­la­tion ac­tu­ally helps de­fend our Con­sti­tu­tional free­doms. Sim­i­larly, the di­ver­sity that im­mi­grants bring to Amer­ica but­tresses our econ­omy.

Like me, many im­mi­grants do not ar­rive in Amer­ica with an ex­ist­ing job of­fer, an ex­ten­sive aca­demic pedi­gree or deep knowl­edge of English. But with hard work and a com­mit­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion, these im­mi­grants have and will con­tinue to make Amer­ica great. The di­verse ta­pes­try of the eth­nic, racial and re­li­gious back­grounds that have built our United States were on the stage Sept. 12 at the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates’ de­bate in Hous­ton.

I have been blessed to live the Amer­i­can dream. My wife and I have raised two beau­ti­ful daugh­ters. I have grown an in­ter­na­tional busi­ness in Penn­syl­va­nia.

As Amer­i­cans re­flect on the Con­sti­tu­tion’s time­less sig­nif­i­cance on this 232nd an­niver­sary, we should cel­e­brate its vi­sion for em­brac­ing di­ver­sity. As our coun­try braces for the most costly and con­tentious elec­tion in our his­tory, we as ev­ery­day vot­ers should re­mem­ber the wis­dom of our Found­ing Fathers.

As the po­lit­i­cal can­di­dates de­scend on my swing re­gion of Penn­syl­va­nia this time next year, I hope they too will em­brace our di­verse im­mi­grant com­mu­ni­ties.

Mu­rat Guzel

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