Rep. Kinkead: We are a nation built on diversity
Photo: Office of Rep. Kinkead
July 4 of this year marks 246 years since a group of English immigrants—our founding fathers—signed the Declaration of Independence and birthed the United States of America.
For most of our nation’s history, immigration was embraced as a way to strengthen and diversify our country. However, in recent decades, immigrants, particularly immigrants of color, have been falsely portrayed as a threat to our way of life. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, a study from the University of Wisconsin found that undocumented immigrants are far less likely to commit crimes than U.S.-born citizens.
To counter this narrative that completely misrepresents the impact of immigrants, it is crucial that we highlight the amazing ways that immigration benefits communities all across our country—including right here in Allegheny County.
Welcoming immigrants and offering a viable path to citizenship is fundamental to growing our economy—and our Commonwealth. The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that immigrants are much more likely to start businesses than non-immigrants. They help create more American jobs and decrease our reliance on the global supply chain.
Additionally, immigrant workers are an essential component of our labor force. Foreign-born workers make up approximately 70% of our farmworkers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Without these workers, we would be left with an enormous void in our workforce. In fact, much of our current worker shortage could be alleviated if we allowed more immigrants an opportunity to come to our shores and invest their talents in our economy.
On the Northside, I am extremely proud to represent a population of Somali-Bantu refugees who settled here in the wake of the civil war in Somalia. The Somali-Bantu community was a community of farmers who were isolated and persecuted in their home country, then tragically caught in the crossfire of a civil war and forced to flee their homes.
In Pittsburgh, they have also faced significant adversity. First, they were settled in Lawrenceville; the gentrification of that neighborhood forced them out and into the Northview Heights neighborhood. Their children, many ESL learners, were initially segregated from their classmates in a basement room of their school until the community rallied and filed a lawsuit to have their children treated equally. Nevertheless, as is the way of new and natural-born Americans alike, they persisted.
While July 4 can be a fraught holiday for many—from the indigenous Americans whose lands were stolen to found our nation to the Black Americans whose ancestors, themselves, were stolen to build our nation—it is important to look to a future that acknowledges these sins of our past and works to make our nation a better one for everyone. Embracing an America that welcomes everyone who wants to invest in making our nation truly live up to being the “land of opportunity” is only the beginning.
So as you celebrate America on July 4and throughout this year, remember that we are a nation of diversity, of pluralism, of accepting more than one idea. E Pluribus Unum: Out of many, one. America is not defined by a single race, ethnicity, or religion. We are, and always have been, the melting pot of the world. If we wish to continue to be a world leader, we must continue to acknowledge the truth of our history, accept immigrants, and fight back against racist narratives that distort the positive influence immigration and diversity have on our society.
As always, if you have any questions or need help with any state-related matter, I am here to help. Just call 412-321-5523 or email [email protected]