Leadership! Visas! Immigration! OH MYI-9!

Folks, we’re in the thick of it. It’s hard to recall from memory or history books when immigration was such an important and hot topic for our country. Don’t worry, this isn’t about to turn political. We the people who make up our country are the same ones who make up our companies, our economic power, and in a very real sense, the fabric of these United States. The truth is that no matter where you and I come from, we all come from somewhere…else.

No matter what you think of the President’s most recent statements about immigrants coming from other countries, or what you think of this, or any, administration’s stance on immigration, there remains a power that is endued on each of us as leaders, to care for those who work for and with us. Certainly, there are those unscrupulous people who use immigration for cheap labor, a modern-day turn at slavery. But the majority of businesses operate with their best intentions toward integrity, and the power of immigrants is welcomed and rewarded. We do not have to turn a blind eye to things with which we disagree, neither do we have to be quiet when we see injustice. But while many voice their opinion about what should or shouldn’t be, and the conversation rages on about who is right and wrong…let’s not forget what this is all about. It’s about people.

It’s about the people who work, and give their very best efforts, day in and day out to make our country, and more importantly their life, better. Many of us have come from humble beginnings, some in other countries, others of us from here in the US. But this is the hope of this nation, that no matter where you start, you can move forward toward a better tomorrow. We’ve seen in our nation the structures that both reek of, or are thinly veiled in racism, prejudice, and inequality. There is no doubt that those structures must be reimagined and built into something that benefits all.

However, what is unique in our country is to the opportunity to respond in the way that you want, no matter what the government does or doesn’t do. Don’t read something I’m not saying here. I’m not saying break the laws. Of course you may find a social injustice that you’re willing to stand against the laws for, and are willing to suffer the consequences, and I can’t speak to that which resonates in your heart or conscience. However, as a free people, we are offered certain rights in how we choose to treat people, regardless of what others make think or say.

Here’s the opportunity that we have in light of the immigration conversation that is occuring: To take care of your people, everyone of them. Behind every title of employee is someone who also carries the titles of son, daughter, mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, friend, and…well, you get it. It’s time we begin to see the people with whom we work as people who have hopes, dreams, fears, struggles, and challenges. And get this: all of us are working to reach the land of our dreams, no matter where it is from which we come.

In the heart of all of this is also the reality that we do have to protect our businesses, our way of life, and our nation. There are various ways to do that, and probably every avenue has both negative and positive aspects. But when it comes to your employees, it’s more simple than we’ve made it out to be. Care for them. Love them. Appreciate them. Recognize them. Give them feedback. Train them. Communicate with them.

Yes, there are laws and regulations that you have to maintain in order to be compliant, and to avoid costly penalties and fines. Yes, there is paperwork, processes, structures, P&L sheets, investors, board of directors, and all the things that make up a business. But let’s remember that it is in fact PEOPLE, who make up our businesses, and we’re all on the journey toward our own land of hopes and dreams.