It’s time for the United States to take a radically different approach to immigration. Desperate efforts like recruiting tourists are not an alternative to immigration.

Fear gets us to spend hundreds of millions trying to keep people out, not very successfully. Employers know what many of us know, and that’s that “real” Americans don’t want or won’t do the work needed, and there simply isn’t enough of them anyway.

And, in the case of Maine, our declining workforce is becoming catastrophic.

So, why don’t we turn that non-working immigration system into a recruiting agency operated as a public/private partnership? Millions spent negatively with a poor result might instead turn detention centers into employment screening centers whose job is to train and funnel willing, qualified workers to the employers who need them, and perhaps like Ellis Island, screen out those who present risk — health or otherwise.

Being a Florida resident, I can tell you firsthand what this immigrant/refugee labor pool means to Florida. Without them, agriculture would come to a screeching halt. The service industry would collapse. The same is true in most states.

Let’s not forget that, like millions before them, the children of these workers become the skilled labor and professionals that we are not producing on our own, just like the children of Jewish, Irish, French, Italian and other immigrants did in the 19th and 20th centuries. They aren’t a drain on taxpayers; they are the future.

If we can’t do it out of concern for our fellow human beings can’t we recognize the potential of this investment? In towns and cities all over American people are making investments in immigrants and it is paying off for them.

It’s time to think again.

Dean Crocker

Estero, Florida,

and Manchester

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