Recently I turned to a conservative, white businessman friend to get some insight into how immigrants enhance our culture. He might seem like a strange person to go to for insight into immigrants, but over the years I have come across several immigration reformists tromping around the world as wealthy conservatives. They live in Orange County, CA. They run highly successful businesses and they do not employ undocumented workers. They are reformists because they are entrepreneurs and they love Jesus.
As entrepreneurs they know what it is to go after something that does not yet exist. My business friends know what it is to start with nothing and make something successful. They respect the ingenuity of immigrants and they do not fear change. Change is their friend. Change brings the next great thing. Change opens new opportunities. To entrepreneurs change is not scary. My businessmen friends are not afraid of how immigrants may change things. And they definitely understand that the United States needs to make changes to the current immigration system. They have no problem believing that the immigration system is completely broken and messed up. They do not trust bureaucracy and do not doubt when you tell them that the average wait for legal papers is 11 years. They know there is a more efficient, cost effective system for handling immigration. So they are for reform. They are "get-it-done" kind of people. Their attitude is, "if the system is broken, fix it."
My entrepreneur friends are generous. They are on the look out for sharp, hard working people of character. They remember the bosses and teachers who took them under their wing and gave them a chance so they look for opportunities to give others a chance. They remember what it is like to be just starting out and for someone to take a risk for you. My Jesus-loving entrepreneur friends delight in doing that for others. They recognize that extending opportunity to others won't diminish what they have already gained.
My conservative friends understand economics. They get that we need workers and we need consumers and we do not have enough in the US. They know what it is to build a team of workers over several decades-to celebrate weddings and births and to watch their employees buy houses. They want to be a part of somebody's American dream. They rejoice when others succeed and they understand their own dependence on their team. They know that their success has not come alone. They recognize that their wealth has come from the work of many. They know that they need workers who will work hard and excel and advance. They see the benefit of bilingual, bicultural teammates. They recognize the need for laborers and for consumers to keep the wheels turning.
And my conservative, entrepreneur friends believe the Bible. They have built their companies and families on the Scripture. They are people who seek to act justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8). They hear the hateful debates and see immigrants treated disdainfully and they know that it does not line up with Jesus' call to love. They want to see love for God and neighbor displayed in our country.
The desire for reform is not just coming from bleeding-heart liberals. Take it from the Jesus-loving conservatives: we need solutions that will uphold our values as Christians and Americans. We need comprehensive immigration reform that will provide a path to citizenship for our undocumented neighbors.
Crissy Brooks is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of Mika Community Development Corporation in Costa Mesa, California.