In fact, that’s why all of our ancestors came to this country, and were themselves originally unwelcome. Because that’s the story of America. From Ben Franklin’s worry that Germans were ruining Pennsylvania, to 19th century 60-year ban on the Chinese immigrants who had just finished building our rail system, to…the Irish, and their insatiable applying for jobs. We have always been a nation of immigrants who hate the newer immigrants.
As long as I live, I will never forget that day 21 years ago when I raised my hand took an oath of citizenship. Do you know how proud I was? I was so proud that I walked around with an American flag around my shoulders all day long.
Your car is German. Your vodka is Russian. Your pizza is Italian. Your kebab is Turkish. Your democracy is Greek. Your coffee is Brazilian. Your movies are American. Your tea is Tamil. Your shirt is Indian. Your oil is Saudi Arabian. Your electronics are Chinese. Your numbers Arabic, your letters Latin. And you complain that your neighbor is an immigrant?
Immigrant families have integrated themselves into our communities, establishing deep roots. Whenever they have settled, they have made lasting contributions to the economic vitality and diversity of our communities and our nation. Our economy depends on these hard-working, taxpaying workers. They have assisted America in its economic boom.
Of course we couldn’t all come here on the Mayflower…[b]ut I got here as soon as I could, and I never wanted to go back, because to me it is a great privilege to be an American citizen.
I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.
We are the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren of the ones who wanted a better life, the driven ones, the ones who woke up at night hearing that voice telling them that life in a place called America could be better.
Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.
Remember, remember always, that all of us, you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.
Our attitudes towards immigration reflects our faith in the American ideal. We have always believed it possible for men and women who start at the bottom to rise as far as the talent and energy allow. Neither race nor place of birth should affect their chances.
Nearly all Americans have ancestors who braved the oceans – liberty-loving risk takers in search of an ideal – the largest voluntary migrations in recorded history…[i]mmigration is not just a link to America’s past; it’s also a bridge to America’s future.
When you have more than you need build a bigger table – not a higher fence.
The immigration issue is, I recognize, one that generates a lot of passion, but it does not make sense for us to want to push talent out.
Immigration law is a mystery and a mastery of obfuscation, and the lawyers who can figure it out are worth their weight in gold.