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Viewpoint: Working together for the common good

By Dr. Jackie Brux, Town of River Falls

To those of you who are angry at immigrants and their supporters: We can work together for the common good.

We may have different conclusions, but we can all agree with the facts and more importantly, we all share a human heart. And yes, our hearts are tugged by the images of separated children, just as our hearts are tugged by images of U.S. children who suffer from poverty, hunger and homelessness.

And, it's painful to see U.S. victims of crime committed by immigrants, just as it's painful to see Central American victims of drug cartels and gangs.

So, I do understand your concerns and anger towards immigrants. You hear that immigrants are criminals and that we should first take care of our own citizens before we take care of others. I get that.

But in the spirit of our shared citizenship and our shared humanity, let's first agree on a few facts. As an economist, I assure you that these are based on economic theory, data, and well-conducted empirical studies that I've reviewed.

Immigrants are less likely than U.S. citizens to commit crimes, and when immigrants join a new community, crime rates fall.

There are more than enough U.S. resources and dollars to take care of our own citizens and the immigrants fleeing violence and poverty.

Does the latter surprise you? The U.S. is one of the richest countries of the world, yet we have the most unequal income distribution among all Western industrialized countries and our standards of living (life expectancies, child mortality rates, and so on) are at the bottom. We do not properly take care of our nation's poor, but it's not because we lack the money. It's because of how this income is distributed and how it is spent. As we speak, our government is trying to reduce spending on social programs and to restrict access to these by the poor.

So, I'm thinking about how we can follow our hearts, yet work together. If you are concerned about poverty and violence in the U.S., then I applaud your efforts to help. And if you are concerned about the poverty and violence that propels immigrants to our country, then I also applaud your efforts to help.

Most people I know who care about U.S. poverty and violence also care about the poverty and violence afflicting immigrants. By following that which pulls on our hearts, we all do end up in the same place, working together for the common good.