Another Funny Predicament

The predicaments which we find ourselves are often because of our own irrationality.

Hurricane Ian will probably be the single most expensive storm in terms of damage costs that Florida has ever seen. It will require an army of workers to begin the short term clean up needed. Even more people will come, many with specific trades, to rebuild homes and businesses for Floridians.

Where will this vast pool of labor appear from? While some will be Florida residents, many will be from around the nation. A preponderance of those laborers and trades people will be both documented and undocumented migrants. I wouldn’t doubt that some may be returning from northern locations where they were bussed by Governors DeSantis and Abbott.

It is easy to vilify those who come to America in search of a job and better life. They are different somehow than “real” Americans. The other half of that equation is that America needs the labor they provide. Whether it is computer programmers with advanced degrees, people to work in our service industries, or those to clean up our storm messes, there is a shortage of able-bodied men and women willing to perform those tasks and others.

People like DeSantis and Abbott use migrants as a political prop in their boogey man drama. But there are millions who won’t stop coming to this country from around the world. They will fill our need for their labor.

Migrants are seeking a better life for themselves and their families. Yet the United States must get a handle on who wants to settle here. Doing so is mainly in the hands of our dysfunctional Congress that refuses to put aside politics for good governance.

My grandfather came to this country from Calabria, Italy as a young man at the time of WWI with his mother and father. He was at Ellis Island for a couple of hours before they landed in lower Manhattan. It didn’t take a mound of paperwork. All they needed was the ship passage, a once over by immigration medical personnel, and a few dollars to prove they were not indigent.

Just like my grandfather, people today come here for a better life. If you make it impossible to legally enter the country, they will do so illegally. Congress could allow people to come here because they have jobs waiting as they do with certain summer workers. Not everyone needs to be a permanent resident or on a path to citizenship.

We do need people willing to work and the best way to do so is to make sure that migrants in the country are registered with the government and paying taxes. One of the causes of inflation is a shortage of qualified workers. Restaurants should not be forced to be closed because they do not have enough employees. The same holds true for contractors, landscapers, tech companies, or any other employer.

Those who want to demonize people from other lands for wanting to lead productive lives in America are doing our country a disservice. We have always been a nation of immigrants. An American is anyone who wants to earn an honest living, raise their children to be good citizens, and obey the law…. including the requirements to become a citizen

America is an ideal not a “fatherland.” My mother’s family settled in America before the United States was formed. My father’s family came a little over a hundred years ago. The melding of families across ethnic groups, race, and religion is what we are all about…at least that was what I thought and believed.



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Thomas F Campenni

Currently lives in Stuart Florida and former City Commissioner. His career has been as a commercial real estate owner, broker and manger in New York City.