“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!”
These are words of freedom and hope to those who have come to our country looking to make a better life for themselves and their families. We live in a country that is founded and built on the hard work and sacrifice of these immigrants.
They built our cities.
They worked in our factories.
They opened up their own businesses.
They shared their culture and added to the tapestry of our great land.
They made a life for themselves, their families, and future generations.
They saw our country as a beacon of opportunity and new beginnings.
Still today, people from all around the world look to come to our shores yearning for the American Dream.
Unfortunately, today’s politics, agendas and opinions have made it harder for people to immigrate to our country. Former President Donald Trump and the Republican leadership built walls and passed policies that made the immigration process a struggle. They have made “immigrant” a bad word. The irony in all of this is that those who have sided with Trump have forgotten that somewhere in their family’s origin is an immigrant story.
President Joe Biden is now in office and it’s time to correct these policies and renew the spirit of immigration and the American Dream. One of the issues the president and Democratic leadership are focused on is reuniting the families that were separated after being detained at the border during the past four years.
Democratic U.S. senatorial candidate for Florida, Allen Ellison, sees protecting immigrant families as one of the top priorities in immigration reform. “As senator, I will write policies that strengthen families, not tear them apart. Our immigration system needs a transformation to keep up with our evolving society.” We must change our immigration system to adapt to our ever changing times but we can never forget the importance of the family unit. “As a husband and father, I believe that reuniting families in a timely and humane manner is the right thing to do.” Ellison states.
Another key issue currently is the challenging path to legal citizenship. “I will write policies that allow for a swift legal way to earn citizenship so that undocumented immigrants can come out of the shadows,” says Ellison when asked about the current process. So many immigrants find themselves living in purgatory due to long processing times, high filing fees, and the complexity of the required forms. Most give up on the process and some don’t even bother starting it due to the extreme hurdles. Until changes are made, many immigrants will remain struggling outside the system.
During the Trump administration, immigrants, especially ones from our southern border, were vilified as criminals, drug traffickers, and murderers. We need to research and separate the facts from the fiction. Most people coming to our country are just looking to make a better life for themselves. A large majority of them will end up contributing to the economy and the community by opening up small businesses. These businesses bring jobs that stimulate our economy. Also, individuals from other countries bring specific and unique skills sets that add to the fabric of the job market. In actuality, immigrants are not hurting our communities but actually bringing growth and positive skills to our economy.
In the end we need to see that these people who are coming to our country are looking for the same thing that every American citizen is: a safe home, a good job to provide for themselves and their families, food on their table, and a hopeful future. It’s time to turn that lamp back on to guide those “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” to our shores. It’s time to remember our immigrant heritage and start writing a new one.
This article, with minor edits, originally appeared in the Community section on Daily Kos.
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