When I first arrived in Massachusetts in the 1970s the constant refrain was how the area was dying. Young people, especially, were fleeing the state to find more opportunity elsewhere. And then, sometime in the 1980s, the Massachusetts Miracle began to happen. Although it took years before people began to understand what was happening, it soon became apparent that Massachusetts was growing and thriving and the reason for this change was due largely to one phenomenon: the large number of immigrants who were coming into the country and calling Massachusetts home.
A quarter of a century later, although we still welcome immigrants, we tend to take them for granted. We forget that they are largely responsible for the continuing economic success of our Commonwealth (both upper and lowercase “c”). However, a new relationship has occurred. Our children are flocking to the cities to immerse themselves in the diversity they find there. They want to experience the different cultures they grew up with and to expose their own children to the multicultural world they are a part of.
I read an article in the paper today about other states, cities and towns beginning to realize the upside of welcoming immigrants: immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs and to start small business; they are dependable and hard-working; they encourage friends and family to join them, expanding the population of their adopted city. With this new growth comes new opportunities, jobs, the need for additional goods and services and an increasing number of employees for expanding companies.
Massachusetts continues to welcome new immigrants, in fact to encourage immigration because we know that our successes rely on keeping the door open to those who will strive to encapsulate the American experience; to experience what living in a free, democratic society means to them and their families. We also realize that Massachusetts is a thriving, expanding Commonwealth once again because of their presence here.
This is why so many people from the Bay State advocate for immigration reform. To ensure that families will no longer be torn apart by deportations. To demand that employers pay fair wages to all their employees, that they don’t eschew American workers because they can pay slave wages under the table to immigrants who are afraid to complain. To guarantee that new energy and new ideas will be encapsulated in our schools and businesses so that we can remain a leader in innovation.