Melody Barnes: Why a Struggling Economy Needs Immigrants

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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

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Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is The Atlantic's digital features editor. More

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, an Atlantic senior editor, began her association with the magazine in 2002, shortly after graduating from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She joined the staff full time in January 2006. Before coming to The Atlantic, Jennie was senior editor at Moment, a national magazine founded by Elie Wiesel.

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