A symbolic representation of immigrants and the united states of america

Last weekend I drove 400 miles to the Rio Grande Valley and stayed on South Padre Island. It’s Texas’ answer to Florida’s beautiful beaches, and it’s less than 20 miles from the southern U.S. border. We arrived late Friday evening and I realized I’d made a rookie mistake in booking the hotel. While guests gave it four stars for their experience, the property itself was two stars… and over-rated.

I debated moving accommodations, but at my wife’s urging I got over myself. It’s just a hotel, it was only two nights, and while modest, it was clean. I’m glad we stayed, because it was another lesson in culture blending, and a reminder that immigration is part of the life blood of America.

Boringly, Wonderfully, Normal

The hotel staff spoke to each other in Spanish. They spoke to other guests in Spanish. I’m sure they speak to their pets in Spanish. But I’m about as plain WASP as they come, so every time one of them looked at me they gave a cheery, and heavily accented “Hello!” I was the odd man out, and I couldn’t have been more comfortable.

From the kids in the pool to the young parents on the beach, the story was the same: typical American life happening, just with a different cadence.

Business signs were bilingual because, as is the American way, we meet on the field of commerce. If it helps business owners to market in more than one language, then they’d be foolish not to.

The only place this became annoying was the radio, as I could only find one station in English. It played the hits of the 1980s.

Kid-friendly restaurants and attractions were packed, and beach tents were lined up against the water’s edge. It was all boringly, wonderfully, normal.

As a nation, we need more of this.

Immigration Of The Nation

The domestic birth rate last year dropped to 1.72 children per woman of child bearing age, the lowest in U.S. history. We need to produce 2.1 children per mother just to replace our population. The number of children born fell to the lowest level since 1987.

These numbers aren’t a secret. Nothing about the data is hidden or obscured, and yet our Congress can’t seem to find a way to propose, much less adopt, common sense immigration laws, starting with the easiest rung of immigration to address: people already here.

During the last years of the Obama administration we beat up the “Dreamers,” immigrants brought here as children that exist in sort of a no-man’s land. Most were brought here before they became teenagers, were educated in the U.S., and have only faint memories of their homelands. The term “Dreamer” applies to about 700,000 such young people who applied to remain in the U.S. under a special program, but there could be up to 3 million kids out there who fit the bill.

These kids and young adults are here today, and we’ve paid to educate them both formally in school and culturally as Americans. Why create these human assets just do punt them out the door? Our Congress has been deliberating how to create a legal path for them to remain in the U.S. since 2001. That’s right, it didn’t start with Obama; he simply signed an executive order because Congress couldn’t get it done. In the intervening 18 years, we’ve had three stretches where one political party or the other controlled both Congress and the White House, and yet… nothing.

2020 is around the corner.

Fire. Them. All.

Assimilating immigrants into an existing culture is never painless or easy, but throughout our history we’ve proven that we’re better off for the effort. Our political system is specifically designed to highlight opportunity, and the freedom to pursue it, as the main driver, which welcomes all who will play by the rules.

Go On Or Get Out, Dear Representatives

I won’t cover the old ground of “we’re all immigrants, blah, blah blah.” We know all that. But it’s worth remembering that most people who migrate are poor, however not always uneducated. If they were rich, or even in the comfortable class in their home country, they’d have less reason to leave. The original settlers were an anomaly.

Even though they are poor, or in dire straits at the moment, migrants usually self-select to uproot themselves for better opportunities, which is a heck of a personal trait. As I’ve often said, the couch potato in Mexico is still in Mexico.

We still need – and need to enforce – laws about immigration. Those calling for open borders are idiots. As the Muriel Boat Lift proved, if you open your borders, other nations will open their prisons. If you’re not willing to accept another nation’s murderers and gangsters, then you don’t want open borders.

Who and how many we accept is up for debate, or at least it should be. And, as with any good business, we should first discuss the clients we already have, or the immigrants already within our borders.

It all goes back to Congress. They set the rules, they appropriate money for enforcement.

We’ve come to a point in which we’re angry at presidents, either the current one or his predecessors, for how they’ve approached immigration through Executive Orders. Those are just temporary band-aids that do little to solve problems that rightly belong to Congress.

They were elected to govern, so they should get on with it or get out.

In the meantime, we’ll keep looking for people to fill our shops as both employees and customers. Chances are, we’ll find that more of them either came from somewhere else, or their parents did. As fewer Americans have children, this is a boon to our economy for decades, even if it comes with immediate adjustment pains.

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Rodney Johnson
Rodney works closely with Harry to study the purchasing power of people as they move through predictable stages of life, how that purchasing power drives our economy and how readers can use this information to invest successfully in the markets. Each month Rodney Johnson works with Harry Dent to uncover the next profitable investment based on demographic and cyclical trends in their flagship newsletter Boom & Bust. Rodney began his career in financial services on Wall Street in the 1980s with Thomson McKinnon and then Prudential Securities. He started working on projects with Harry in the mid-1990s. Along with Boom & Bust, Rodney is also the executive editor of our new service, Fortune Hunter and our Dent Cornerstone Portfolio.