“We Were Strangers Once, Too.” The President, Immigration, and Me

Last night, I turned on the television to prepare for Scandal and saw the President (Obama, not Fitz) talking about immigration. Did you watch it, too? If you didn’t catch it, here is the whole thing from C-Span (it was just 15 minutes).

There were a few things that he said which reminded me of my own family and how we got here. It reminded me why my parents immigrated and why so many others immigrated here to the United States.

“Our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society..”

“Scripture tells us that we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger – we were strangers once, too.”

“What makes us Americans is our shared commitment to an ideal—that all of us are created equal.”

My parents, grandparents, and others came to the United States because of that ideal. Millions of immigrants still come to this country because of that ideal.

We all know what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange land. If we don’t, it’s worth listening to those who feel that. It is worth the time and energy to walk a mile in those shoes. I’ve definitely tried to do that myself. Although my parents were immigrants, I was born here in the United States. I never had to think about becoming legal and going through steps to become a naturalized citizen. I was granted the citizenship simply through birth.

President Obama’s actions will let the 5 million illegal immigrants have a chance to become legal immigrants. They will be able to apply for three year work permits – with some stipulations such as passing a background check. His rationale for this was said perfectly: “Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law? Or are we a nation that gives them a chance to make amends, take responsibility, and give their kids a better future?”

Your move, Congress.

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