By Ana Rodriguez
Director of the SMU Cox Latino Leadership Initiative
in the Winter 2018 Catalyst, a quarterly journal of ideas from the Bush Institute

It is time to admit an uncomfortable truth. Economic concerns do not drive fear of immigration. The changing face of America’s demographics drive that fear.

Specifically, the nation’s demographics are skewing toward a kaleidoscope of identities more diverse than the European-centered tapestry of the past century. Our composition will continue to change, regardless of whether borders are closed or not.

Many immigrants who came to this country 50 years ago had children here, and those children eventually had families of their own. This pattern has existed for generations, thus permanently altering America’s demographic landscape. As a result, our culture is continually alive and evolving.

The challenge is this: Can we adapt to the fact that our futures may look different from what we imagined? If the answer is “yes,” then each of us must identify what we can personally do to make that future better.

The topic of immigration is both relevant and personal to me. My very existence is due to immigration. I am a first-generation American, and chances are minimal that my Mexican father would have met my Peruvian mother had they not both immigrated to the United States. My mother raised me to help those in need, thereby giving back to the country that gave my family and me so much.

For generations, people have looked to America as a bastion of hope and opportunity. This is a critical part of our national ethos. If we reduce or eliminate the hope of improvement to future generations of immigrants, we not only attenuate the realization of dreams, we alter the fabric of our American identity as well.

We need to be courageous now more than ever, and nothing takes more courage than being honest.