(By Congressman Mike Thompson). At the base of the Statue of Liberty there is an inscription that reads, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
For centuries, generations of immigrants have come to our shores in search of new freedoms and greater opportunities. Those immigrants have enriched our country and they’ve shaped our society. Today, more than 50 million Latinos are serving our nation as leaders in business, the military, government, and science. These leaders strengthen our nation and contribute to our economy.
Hispanic Heritage Month, which started September 15 and runs through the October 15, is an opportunity for all Americans to recognize the importance of our Latinos and their contributions to our nation’s social and economic fabric.
And, it is a time for all Americans to recommit ourselves to the fight for civil rights, equality, and social and economic justice. The front line of that fight is comprehensive immigration reform.
We’re a nation of laws. And it’s important that we enforce those laws. Immigration reform must strengthen our borders and be fair to U.S. taxpayers. But we’re also a nation of immigrants. Every year millions of immigrants come to our country in search of greater opportunities for themselves and for their families.
Comprehensive immigration reform must allow immigrants to earn the right to fully join us as participating citizens and taxpayers. It must establish a streamlined program for temporary workers. It must create an earned path to citizenship for those immigrants who are currently living and working in our country, and choose to pursue that path. It must include the DREAM Act so that those students who were brought here at a very young age can pursue their dreams – their dreams of a collage education or brave military service. It must keep families united and protect our workers.
The Senate has passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill. It’s time that the House did the same thing.
Our nation was built by immigrants – by people who came here in pursuit of the American Dream – a dream of liberty in a country where, if you work hard, and play by the rules, you find a job, buy a house, send your kids to college, and save for retirement.
It’s a dream that knows no race, creed nor color. It’s a dream that brought my grandparents to America from Italy. And it’s a dream that still brings millions to our nation every year.
By working together, we can fix our broken immigration system. And we can make sure we preserve the American Dream – not only for those who were born within our borders – but also for those who have arrived on our shores in search of a better life.
It is my pleasure to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with you and the people of our district – and to celebrate the contributions Latinos make to our communities, not just this month, but 12 months a year.
Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties.