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Remembering the Value of Freedom

Over two centuries ago, our Founding Fathers declared America’s independence. The spoke of freedom and liberty, not only for themselves but all Americans. They also claimed it for those that had yet to arrive at our shores and borders.

Since that first Fourth of July, America has become home to millions of immigrants who came to the U.S. for opportunities to start a new life. They came and continue to come for the same inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that our founders declared to be the rightful inheritance of all.

Many immigrants have become an important part of our economy, and we benefit from the work they do. Most perform jobs that many U.S. citizens don’t want. If they were deported, what would happen to the states whose economy is heavily dependent upon those jobs? How does a border wall and mass deportation assist these employers and employees, and at what unnecessary cost to the taxpayers? Furthermore, our current government seeks to deport immigrants using the very tax dollars to which these immigrants are contributing. Yet, immigration continues to be a national controversy. It is associated with negativity; according to our President, they bring crime and drugs into our country. I, for one, think it is time for a reality check.

Like all Americans, I am the product of immigrants. Whether you trace it back one, two, three, or more generations, someone in your ancestry had to travel here. Most of them chose to migrate to America, seeking economic opportunity and democratic freedom. Some came to this country to escape persecution elsewhere. It is such immigrants who have helped shape America.

  • Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, came to the US from Russia.

  • Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is Austrian-born.

  • Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State was from Czechoslovakia.

  • Levi Strauss (yes, the blue jeans hanging in your closet) was from Hungary

These are only a few examples. Many technology startup companies were founded by immigrants. There is so much that would be lost without their talents. They have even served in the U.S. military.

We live in an interconnected world, where ideas and cultures are meant to be shared, and everyone deserves an opportunity. Migration is a part of it. I often wonder what Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and the other Founders would think about today’s America. As a nation, we have strayed away from what our Founding Fathers envisioned.

America’s ‘greatness’ will not be achieved by deporting millions of people who are otherwise abiding by our laws. Immigrants remind us daily of the freedom and opportunity that America offers. Instead of divisive walls and mass deportations, Americans should pause on this Fourth of July to consider the contributions that immigrants and their children have made to the core values we celebrate on Independence Day. Even a divided country can come together to celebrate its birthday. Can’t it?

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