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.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

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

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Business

Just In