Melody Barnes: Why a Struggling Economy Needs Immigrants

Why should we open the door to newcomers at a time when American citizens are struggling to find work? That's the question National Journal's Ron Brownstein puts to Obama's domestic policy advisor in this clip from the opening ceremony of the Aspen Ideas Festival. 

The Ideas Report Melody Barnes's answer is the same one James Fallows gave in a 1983 issue of The Atlantic: Immigrants, almost by definition, breathe new creativity into a society. As Fallows put it, "The single most important quality in immigrants is the willingness to adapt. ... Compared with people who have not been forced to land on their feet, immigrants are generally more resourceful and determined." 

To read more Atlantic coverage of immigration, including an 1896 rant against Southern Europeans, see this collection from our archives.

More video from the 2011 Aspen Ideas Festival

Presented by

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she edits digital features.

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her middle school. Then Humans of New York told her story to the Internet—and everything changed.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

Video

What Fifty Shades Left Out

A straightforward guide to BDSM

More in Business

Just In