If there was any question about the humane side of migrant workers in the United States, in this area it was dispelled with an act of courage on the part of five men who work for Happy Apples, a Franklin County company, located between Washington and Union on Highway 47.

A story in the Weekend Missourian told of their rescue of a man whose vehicle ran into a creek in Marthasville during one of our recent rainstorms. The migrant workers were watching from their residence the rising water in the creek from a heavy downpour when the driver of a vehicle veered into the creek. The driver seemed to be confused as to the streets and ended up in the creek.

Without hesitation, the men rushed to the scene, waded into the water to rescue the victims. They feared children might be in the vehicle. It turned out that only the driver was in the vehicle. The men pulled him to safety. The front end of the vehicle, including the driver’s side, was underwater. The rescue took only a few minutes. It happened early in the morning.

The driver could have drowned had the men not been near by and acted so quickly. “They came here to pick apples and ended up saving a life,” Joette Reidy, owner of Happy Apples, told Missourian reporter Cindy Gladden. Happy Apples employs about 40 migrant workers at the company’s orchards at Marthasville.

We’ve been hearing a lot about the wave of immigrants at our border from countries to the south of the U.S. In the news for months have been reports of the thousands of people who want to be in America for safety, job opportunities and a better life overall. Many children are with their parents. For many their plight is desperate.

Migrant workers have been in the U.S. for many years and from what we’ve been told, they are hard workers. Many of them are employed in seasonal jobs. They will do work that many Americans prefer not to do. The majority aren’t troublemakers.

When we learned of the courageous act in Marthasville, we were reminded of a commentary in Industry Week magazine by Stephen Gold, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation. His message is either the U.S. will take action to increase its number of workers, or witness a permanent economic demise. Those are words of wisdom.

We need immigrants for our workforce. Gold laid out many statistics to prove his position. He wrote that the steady increase, especially of unathorized immigrants, combined with significant economic changes caused by “globalization and technically, has led to backlash at today’s wave of Latin American immigrants.” He added that since 1700 immigrants have not always been welcomed.

Gold said there are legitimate concerns about illegal immigrants and he pointed to the demographics changes occurring in this country. He said according to the U.S. Census Bureau and United Nations data, by 2040 there will be more minorities than whites and there will be more senior citizens than children in the U.S. That means there will be a diminishing supply of employees for businesses and industries. There are skilled workers shortages unlike any America has seen before.

“Either this country will take action to reverse the trend and increase its number of workers, with more emphasis on trade, technical and skilled service training, or we will witness a permanent economic demise such as Japan has started to experience,” Gold wrote. With the U.S. birthrate falling, the fact that people want to come to the U.S. “gives us a competitive advantage over virtually every major industrial nation in the world,” said Gold.

Most immigrants work in agriculture fields and farmers are experiencing a shortage of workers also.

Gold concluded his commentary by writing: “We need a steady stream of young, highly educated and skilled immigrants, looking for economic and entrepreneurial opportunities, to choose the U.S. as their home in the coming decades.”

If Congress understands that, it needs to get to work on sound immigration policies.