Saturday, April 14, 2012

What makes America great? (or Immigration Part 1)

What makes America great? There may be many answers, but one that I would put forward is the fact that a bright young person from anywhere on earth can dream of becoming American. You cannot immigrate into Germany, China, or Russia and become one of them, but you can become an American!

Earlier today I was flying from Miami to Virginia. On the flight I sat next to a woman from Saudi Arabia. Her story was gripping. 
At the age of 13, she was forced to marry her cousin. Her oldest child, who she describes as more of a sibling than a son, was born when she was 16 years old. It was clear that she felt her youth was stolen.

She loves her family, but she shared her dream with me. She wants to become an American. Do you want to know why? Although she has children who live both in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, as well as the fact that she speaks better Arabic than English, she feels at home here. She knows that she is welcome; she wants to be free.
She is now 60 years old. Even so, she still longs for the American dream.

America is great because we are able to take in the best from all around the world! All I have to do is look at myself to see the impact of cultures and people from around the world.

I love Italian food. English ideas of justice and freedom form my political philosophy. Jewish history helps to form my ethics. My sister is from Central America. My mom grew up in the Caribbean. To be a Lorrig is quintessentially German. That does not take away my native Shoshone Indian blood. In fact, I am proud of that too, but it is all of it together that makes me who I am today.

The Statue of Liberty sums up what was in my heart when I talked to this wistful woman:

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

America is the land of opportunity. We take in the tired and poor and they join our great nation. Together, we can all stand as Americans. The American Dream is to be a city on a hill and a beacon of hope. When everyone who is willing to embrace the idealistic American values stands together, we stand stronger, not weaker.

How can we revitalize America? By embracing those who still believe in the American dream!

  1. Reform the system to encourage those who love what America stands for to join the vision.
  2. Reform current immigration rules that are based on Cold War politics that do not focus on modern day issues such as terrorism. Instead, make terrorism and the Freedom Agenda the driving force as the backbone of these new policies.
  3. Reform the bureaucracy that pervades the process and desperately needs to be cleaned up and streamlined.
  4. Provide a carrot encouraging people to immigrate legally by joining the workforce that pays taxes and has stakes in America’s success, not just the stick of deportation.

Historically, America grows and prospers when our laws reflect our values. People all around the world can see that we are a land of hope. We the people can include anyone because where you come from or what you look like doesn’t matter when you become a citizen. When you become a citizen, you are an American!

I don’t know if my new friend will ever actually be an American, but the fact that she can gives her hope and makes her love America.

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