Morrison Institute report sparks boyhood memories

Posted By Mike Padgett

July 18, 2008

One of my best friends in the fifth grade was Hispanic. He and I were good buds. Our fathers worked together on construction projects in Washington state. I remember birthday parties and weekend barbecues at my friend’s home down the street.

It seems like my friend and I spent more than just that year together. But by the sixth grade, I was in a different school. We moved to a different community where my parents bought a 40-acre farm.

I saw my friend only a few more times after we moved, but I won’t forget that year in the fifth grade. We attended bible school where we made bowls from ice cream sticks and glue.

We raced our bicycles all over the small town. His was a maroon model with thin whitewall tires. Mine had black balloon tires that were wide enough to make roadkill.

The town’s Main Street was only a couple of blocks long. The drugstore with its lunch counter and swivel stools was one of our hangouts. We bought Cokes and milkshakes with money we collected by returning pop bottles we scrounged along the roads.

Once, we borrowed my father’s .22-caliber rifle and rode down to the river for target practice. Later that year, one of our classmates died after accidentally shooting himself. His rifle went off while he was climbing through a barbed wire fence.

Dad’s rifle became off limits.

That was then. I don’t know the whereabouts of my friend today, but the bittersweet memories of our good times came back to me today while I was reading a new report from the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University.

The eight-page report, “Immigration: From Global to Local to Kids,” should help clarify the challenges that immigration presents to the local and national economy. Hopefully, it will fuel genuine interest in solving our immigration dilemma, and in a fair and reasonable manner.

The report points out that:

  • One out of three children in Arizona has at least one immigrant parent.
  • Eighty percent of children under the age of 6, and who have at least one immigrant parent, are U.S. citizens.
  • Immigrants will comprise a larger share of the workforce than native citizens by 2020.
  • 1.8 million Latino residents live in Arizona, and more than 60 percent are native born.
  • The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that of about 500,000 unauthorized immigrants in Arizona, between 260,000 and 295,000 are in the labor force.

As I read the short report, I wondered what my friend would think about some of our current actions – and failures to act – regarding immigration.

His father, like mine, worked hard and paid taxes. My friend and his parents were born in the United States. His father was Hispanic, and his mother’s heritage was German. And somewhere further back in his heritage, a relative likely migrated to this democracy that was founded by emigrants who fled oppression in Europe. My ancestors include Europeans and Native Americans.

One could hope that the newest report from Morrison will spark new discussions leading to positive changes involving immigration.

The report was issued in June by Forum 411, Morrison’s newest briefing series. It was named after Morrison’s location at 411 N. Central Ave. on ASU’s downtown Phoenix campus.

The report is available on the institute’s Web site,

Jul 18th, 2008

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