Jorge Lima, Senior VP of Policy at Americans for Prosperity, recently joined host Gregory Kallenberg on Kallenberg's Rational Middle podcast to discuss the importance of finding common ground on immigration. Americans for Prosperity is a conservative and libertarian political advocacy group driving long-term solutions to the country's biggest problems through grassroots outreach. Lima explained that the issue of immigration is fundamental to who they are and what they believe.
"Immigrants have been historically part of America’s success and will be part of America’s success moving forward. This is where they come to create a better life for themselves, for their kids, and at the same time are creating a better life for you and me and their communities," Lima explained. He further elaborated by saying that immigration is what has spurred innovation, entrepreneurship, and population size, which are all necessary for America to continue to be the leading country across the world. "When you look at how America is going to be successful in the future, if America moves away from this concept that allowing these individuals from across the world to contribute here is not tied to our success, we feel that that’s a huge threat."
Lima spent a good chunk of the episode talking about a new project Americans for Prosperity kicked off last Fall called Common Ground. “It’s really rooted on this idea that for so long we’ve been having an immigration discussion that is either/or. You have to choose, are you pro-immigrant or pro-America? Do you like having immigrants in this country, or do you want to feel safe? People are just kind of used to having to pick one of those," he said. Lima explained that this doesn't need to be the case though. America can be both welcoming as well as safe and prosperous.
Lima told Kallenberg that perhaps due to the heat we've recently reached on immigration in this country, people are thirsty for this conversation on immigration. "There’s no denying that this will be a huge topic during the election cycle leading up until November, and Americans want to find a way to engage in it that doesn’t automatically put them in any sort of label or automatically force them to fight with one group of friends or another."
Common Ground is trying to change the conversation and find where people are united not divided. "75% of Americans today still think that immigration is good - a record high. People are surprised at that because of how divisive the narrative is around immigration," explained Lima. "So imagine if you could have a conversation about where you could agree, not ignoring that there are some disagreements. But if we go straight to what divides us, we believe that that is what has kept us in the status quo for over three decades. Once you find the parts you agree on, you can talk about solutions."