If you don't believe it is “fake news” that President Trump expressed his frustration over people entering the U.S. from “shithole countries” such as Haiti, El Salvador and those in Africa, then there are a whole bunch of reasons to be concerned, beginning with the outright disdain for these peoples.
Then there’s the economics of it all. Imagine being among those allegedly singled out by the president. You go to work each day and make tangible contributions to your employer, community and local economy, only to be told by the leader of the free world you’re not wanted here. You think it stings?
Reverberations from the remarks confirmed by some and denied (or supposedly not heard) by others at the Jan. 11 Oval Office meeting on immigration are being felt far and wide, including here in New Jersey.
The Haitian community, for one, has established deep roots in the state. New Jersey has the fourth-largest Haitian population in the nation, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, trailing only Florida, New York and Massachusetts.
One need only venture into communities such as Orange, Irvington, Newark and Roselle to experience the Haitian influence on those local economies. Haitian-owned businesses line the streets, owned and operated by proud immigrants and their families.
Now while the Norwegians apparently can rest easy having received a bye from the president, imagine all the other immigrant populations he wishes hadn’t given us their tired, poor and huddled masses yearning to breathe free.
Yet it is precisely these people — Haitians, Salvadorans, Africans and all others who have migrated here and made positive economic contributions — who are critical to keeping New Jersey running.
These statistics from the American Immigration Council tell a compelling story:
We’ve been told the president is not one for details, but these numbers cannot be ignored. The economic vibrancy of our state (and the 49 others) heavily depends on the contributions of those who came here to carve out their piece of the dream.
Instead of disparaging them, praise them. They, too, are helping to make America great.
Howard Burns is editor of NJBIZ.