Immigration is by far the most salient topic in the United States right now. While the current focus is on actions over the past few weeks, we have to have greater perspective. The politicians in Washington have allowed our nation’s immigration system to become such a mess. It would be great if we could discuss the topic in black and white terms, but as it is now, there are many levels of gray.
We are a nation of immigrants. For centuries, the search for a better life is the hope and dream of all who come to our great country. Without a doubt, the vast majorities who immigrate here contribute to our diversity and add value to this nation. It is our promise of hope and freedom that built the greatest country in the world. Every day, across the globe, people want to come to the United States and achieve greater heights.
Each February we celebrate the birthdays of two great presidents, Lincoln and Washington, this year commemorated on February 20 – President’s Day. During this time, my hope is we start to move toward a nation healed through respectful dialogue with one goal in mind – ensuring this country’s continued strength through civility, and thus restoring our pride.
Abraham Lincoln so eloquently said, “My dream is of a place and a time where America will once again be seen as the last best hope of earth.”
If we lose sight of that dream, we will begin to fall short of our potential. The United States cannot push out those who we want to be contributors in our next great generation. We benefit from those new ideas and innovation.
Hard work is what Americans admire and expect of their fellow man – native born and immigrant alike. As we continue to sit around our dinner tables and discuss immigration, we have to be respectful of those that have been here for the majority of their lives and have been contributing to our society.
Yes, we have to keep our citizens safe. That is a basic tenet of government. This means that we have to strengthen our borders. At the same time, we have to figure out a way for us to allow those that are here to come out of the shadows. We currently have a number of residents who are active participants in our society through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – they are known as Dreamers.
This program was created by the federal government to allow those who are living in the United States but are unable to become citizens in our broken system to be recognized and registered. They pay taxes. They obey our laws. They work to make California stronger.
Like most Americans, I am shaped by my faith, and I believe children who arrive here legally or not, deserve compassion and understanding. They have dreams just like anyone else, and providing direction, purpose and the tools to achieve them are what makes this state and our country great. We have to ensure that we continue to support their efforts to become citizens and allow them to contribute to the fabric of our nation.