New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg once again challenged the U.S. government’s failure to set a national immigration policy during a speech on Wednesday.
Speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations, Bloomberg said that the country risks “national suicide” if it doesn’t adopt an immigration policy that is more welcoming to immigrants.
“We will not remain a global superpower if we continue to close our doors to people who want to come here to work hard, start businesses, and pursue the American dream,” Bloomberg said, according to Politico. “The American dream cannot survive if we keep telling the dreamers to go elsewhere,” the mayor adds. “It’s what I call national suicide – and that’s not hyperbole.”
A staunch advocate for easing visa and citizen requirements for foreign students and entrepreneurs in the U.S., Bloomberg’s remarks come at a time when the immigration debate is once again heating up. Last week Alabama passed a controversial immigration law similar to the one in place in Arizona and last month Bloomberg advocated allowing immigrants to come to the U.S. as long as they moved to Detroit.
Bloomberg’s speech comes as the Partnership for a New American Economy released a report looking at the role that immigrants play at Fortune 500 companies. The study by the bipartisan group, which Bloomberg co-chairs and includes business leaders like Rupert Murdoch, said that forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.
“American companies founded by immigrants or their children have revenues that are greater than the gross national product of every country in the world outside the United States, except two: China and Japan,” Bloomberg said in his prepared remarks.
“The reason is simple,” he added. “Immigrants are dreamers and risk-takers who are driven to succeed, because they know that in America hard work and talent are rewarded like nowhere else.”
The immigration debate in Congress seems to be at standstill as Democrats argue for the passing of the so-called Dream Act, which would allow minors who were brought to the U.S. illegally a path to citizenship provided they go to college or serve in the military. Republicans, such as Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama say the legislation is a form of amnesty and offers a safe harbor to some undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
“Maybe more than any other major issue in Washington today, there is an opportunity for a bipartisan breakthrough on immigration,” Bloomberg said.
Last week New York City council members and leaders of New York City’s immigrant communities rallied at City Hall to save the Immigrant Opportunities Initiative (IOI), a city-funded measure that supports English language education, citizenship and legal services for immigrants. The IOI is currently under threat of being left out of New York City’s budget.
Photo: Jim Gillooly @ Flickr.