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Living the American Dream in the heart of the Sonoran Desert

In elementary and
high school my friends
were Smith, Jones,
Garcia, Perez, Diaz,
Yee and Wong. The
year was 1953 and the
population of Phoenix
was 300,000. We, Caucasians,
lived, went to
school and played with
the Latino and Asian
kids, among many others. Our community
included multiple cultures and defi ned
cultural diversity. I guess we were practicing
equal respect for the various cultures and
ethnicities, but really we were just living in
Phoenix.

Fast-forward through the 50s to today,
and it’s clear, in some quarters, tension
among the cultures and ethnicities is palpable.

I really don’t know how many undocumented
immigrants attended our Phoenix
schools in the 50s and 60s, but today there
are well over 11 million immigrants in the
U.S. without lawful authority.

Some businesses and industries rely on
this existing undocumented immigrant labor
force. Children born in the U.S. of undocumented
parents are in the middle of the
storm. Foreign-born college graduates must
return to their native countries even though
they may not wish to do so. Our manufacturing
and technology sector require certain
skill sets, but they cannot always be secured
through our broken visa system.

America begs for a S.A.N.E. solution, an
immigration platform that is reasoned and
balanced, and addresses the shortcomings
of America’s fractured system.

A poll by the Morrison Institute for Public
Policy found that 78 percent of Arizonans
would support legislation allowing longtime
undocumented immigrants become citizens
if they also paid a fi ne, passed criminal background
checks, paid taxes and demonstrate
they can speak English.

As a professional in public policy and
government affairs, my study of the laws,
politics and immigration reform requirements
help me conclude it will not be easy,
the issues are very complex and the will of
the people can see this through.
The U.S. Senate Gang of Eight is advancing
a new comprehensive federal immigration
plan. My confi dence that Congress
and the president will improve our broken
system is growing.

As a kid in Phoenix, I wasn’t aware we had
a problem. As an adult, I know we can solve
the so-called immigration problem for the
good of our economy, safety of our people
and cherished cultural fabric that enriches
our lives.

The Real Arizona Coalition has brought
diverse groups together, propelled the
dialogue, modeled civil discourse and real
leadership. I’m proud to be part of a group
that is helping Arizona return to a time when
it was possible to live the American dream
in the heart of the Sonoran desert.

Martin L. Shultz is the Treasurer of The Real
Arizona Coalition and Member of its Leadership
Council. He is the Senior Policy Director
of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. He is
also the retired Vice President of Public
Affairs for Pinnacle West Capital Corp./APS.