Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

We Need to Become Immigrants Again

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

We Need to Become Immigrants Again

Article excerpt

WE'RE CALLED "A NATION OF immigrants," and we are, but have we forgotten the lessons of that heritage?

One of our features this month (p. 51) deals with the arrival of Mexicans, Bosnians, Hmongs, and other ethnic groups into the Heartland of America. These newcomers move into midwestern towns to work at low-level jobs in slaughterhouses and on farms--jobs that go begging either because there aren't enough young people around or because those around are unwilling to do such work.

The immigrants typically work hard, save, and invest their savings in local businesses. They are good bank customers. Within a few years many graduate to less physical, more palatable work. They are willing to do whatever it takes to get their start.

This is no new thing. Immigrants have always taken the lowliest jobs. But now, the growth of offshore outsourcing has put pressure on a whole range of midlevel jobs. In addition, there continues to be an influx of highly educated people from other countries who land top technology and scientific jobs here.

At the ABA Annual Convention last month, Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International and a respected observer of global trends, said the response to offshore outsourcing should be a G.I. Bill type of program to better train our workers in the kinds of jobs which won't be outsourced. Air conditioning repair and nursing were two he cited.

But we have created an expectation in this country that everyone is entitled to a high-paying, fully benefited, clean, interesting job. There are jobs like that, but not nearly enough for our entire existing and emerging labor force.

We have an enormous pool of college-educated young people whose real level of learning is far less than their diplomas would indicate, who have never done a lick of work in their lives, but who, nevertheless, expect good, soft jobs to fall to hand. …

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