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The Immigration Solution

With the mid-term elections barely over, the immigration controversy is back on full boil.

Politicians on both sides are firing their best shots, blaming the other.

The President's recent executive order on immigration brought needed attention to this issue but highlighted once again the political divide demonstrating the politicians' inability to lead; and America is left to suffer.

With rare exception, we all owe our existence in this country to immigration. Thank God; otherwise, the Sather family would still work as lumberjacks in Sweden. This is not a statement in favor of Republican or Democratic policy. Rather, legal immigration should be a pro-American policy that recognizes the simple math.

Pragmatically, there are 76 million Baby Boomers in the U.S. - a whopping 24 percent of our nation. About 17 percent of the Boomers are already retired. Over the next 15 years, the remainder will reach traditional retirement age.

As the Boomers leave the workforce, our economy will suffer as productivity and payment into the system are swapped for retirement and a drawdown of assets.

Furthermore, given the amount of entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.) that have been over-promised, the Baby Boomers should logically be supportive of a fair, logical and legal immigration program. Otherwise, there will be no one to pay for the benefits they anticipate receiving.

Our government does not have the cash to pay for these programs. Future generations of youngsters always pay for the benefits received currently by older generations.

As such, immigration may not only be a good policy, but a necessary one.

However, it is not just a matter of trying to pay for benefits. Despite the fictitious 5.9 percent unemployment rate figures stated by the government, there remain millions of unfilled jobs.

According to the Labor Department, the number of job openings in our country reached a new high in August. Employers had 4.84 million unfilled job openings - the highest level since 2001.

If we cannot fill these jobs domestically, employers will either grow below full capacity or outsource these jobs to other nations. Either way, the end result is a decrease in tax revenues and employment benefits.

For this to work, the people that come here must embrace the "opportunity" and not take it for granted. Sitting at home watching TV will not get it done. (Significant entitlement reform would be helpful in this matter.)

Instead, come here in search of a better opportunity. An opportunity in which you can pursue any occupation you want. You can get up early, work late, get training and earn your own way in the world. Socialist and Communist countries do not offer this opportunity.

In particular, there is a well-documented shortage of people to fill STEM jobs - those in science, technology, engineering and math.

There is tremendous foolishness with our immigration policies, especially in these areas. We educate talented foreigners on U.S. soil in these high demand, high pay areas, only to tell them they are unwelcome once they graduate.

Can you imagine telling Albert Einstein that because of inept policies he is not welcome in America? All this does is exacerbate the problem and serves to enhance the competitiveness of every foreign country - except the U.S.

However, the labor shortage extends well beyond STEM disciplines.

Plumbers, electricians, masons and carpenters are in short supply. Although these may not be glamour jobs, they are honest opportunities that pay good wages.

These jobs are the reward of capitalism. Capitalism, and freedom, continue to be powerful concepts. These are the ideologies that allowed 41 percent of all millionaires in the world to live in the U.S. - despite our nation only having 4.5 percent of the world's population.

Statistically, most of these millionaires are self-made entrepreneurs - many of which are first generation immigrants seeking a better life.

Despite all of our flaws, differences and arguments, this is still the land of opportunity - one made possible through thoughtful and legal immigration.

It is time for our elected leaders to realize this too. It is time to reform our policies and embrace the melting pot that made us great.

Dave Sather is a Victoria certified financial planner and owner of Sather Financial Group. His column, Money Matters, publishes every other week.

Originally published December 2 2014, Victoria Advocate