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Celebrating American Immigrants

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

The long line to immigrate into America is the sincerest form of flattery to the power of the American Dream. People aren’t trying to get out; the gate to America swings in! For America’s success, immigration has and must remain a necessary contributor to its creativity, vitality and economic growth.

As an added benefit, there’s nothing like a fresh dose of new American citizens to remind us how fortunate we are to have been born in this great country and how easy it is to take American citizenship for granted.

Andy Anderson, writing for Southwest’s Spirit magazine, captured the pride and excitement of new citizens in his article, “I’m Truly Home Now!” As you read their comments, add passion to their voices and visualize the tears of joy in their eyes:

Kassegn Befekadu, born deaf in Ethiopia, said, “There are no rights there for people like me. I have so many opportunities here. I can get an education; I can drive and work. I love America.”

Roya Dura Mohammad, from Pakistan, confessed, “In Pakistan, after 5 o’clock, you cannot go outside because it is dangerous. In here, 24/7, I go when I want to go. In here, life is, like, way different. Thank you America, for having me here in the United States.”

Miguel Zaragoza, came from the Philippines with his mother and now is a tank mechanic in the U.S. Army. He says with pride, “I miss my family in the Philippines, but I don’t miss the poverty. It’s a pleasure for me to live in such a great place, so, to my fellow citizens, don’t take this for granted.”

For India immigrant Avtar Singh it was one word that said it all, “Freedom.”

They came here legally, overcame hurdle after hurdle, and are now “home.” These proud new “adopted” citizens have chosen to become “Americans.” They join a rich mosaic of citizens from many countries who have come together over the history of our republic. These new citizens played by the rules, persevered and earned the right to join our diverse but connected patchwork quilt. Yes, E Pluribus Unum—out of many one!

They now are as American as you or I. In many ways, they’re more so, because they chose to embrace American values we so often take for granted. After all, most of us won the national lottery and were born here. That happy accident of citizenship has allowed us opportunities others around the world just dream of.

But to honor immigrants, we must protect the immigration process. Recently, Arizona has come under attack from the U.S. Department of Justice for passing an immigration enforcement law designed to assist the federal government in enforcing existing federal laws.

SB 1070 is being tested out in the courts, and, most likely, will result in the Supreme Court resolving the case. But in speaking with “Early Show” anchor Harry Smith, President Obama criticized what he sees as political opportunism in Arizona’s initiative, “What we can’t do is allow a patchwork of 50 different states, or cities or localities, where anybody wants to make a name for themselves suddenly says, ‘I’m going to be anti-immigrant, and I’m going to try to see if I can solve the problem ourself.’”

Mr. President, the vast majority of Americans on either side of this issue are not “anti-immigrant.” We are anti “illegal” immigration. We want our immigration laws enforced and our border secured. Instead of taking on the states like Arizona who are making a stand against illegal immigration, we need politicians who will prosecute entities who are taking the law into their own hands by providing “sanctuary” in open defiance to existing federal law.

If people want to help illegal immigrants become American citizens, support their return to their country of origin. Help them secure employment and support their legal efforts to become an American immigrant. Let them earn that right the old fashioned way, by getting in line, making their case and respecting the laws of the country they wish to join. A blanket amnesty is an insult to those immigrants who have waited and faithfully played by the rules.

Richard Lamm said it best, “Amnesty is a big billboard, a flashing billboard, to the rest of the world that we don’t really mean our immigration law.”

If you have had enough of an administration that prosecutes those committed to upholding immigration laws and protects those who refuse to obey it, in November, elect candidates who will.

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