We’ve seen a president transform economic frustration into political xenophobia and racism – and it has to stop. We’ve seen an administration that makes it a priority to single out hard working Americans, soldiers, teachers, and community members based on arbitrary social criteria and deny them the dignity and rights our Constitution affords them. Unsurprisingly, this administration is underserving the underserved.
Immigration Rights and Reform
I am the grandson of immigrants. And unless you’re Native or African American, you are here because of immigrants. But I’m also the grandfather of an immigrant. 100 years after my grandparents settled in Somersworth, a West African teenager, fleeing death & persecution, sought asylum in America, seeking refuge and safety. Instead, he found ICE agents who altered his birth certificate to make him appear over 18 so they could detain him. While incarcerated, he taught himself English, and never stopped believing there was a place for him in America. He was right, as he too found a home in Somersworth, it was our son’s home. I’m proud he calls me Grandpa, and to witness the American dream live on in a new generation. Some say the American Dream no longer exists — I reject that. I’m walking to stand in solidarity with what makes America the exceptional, industrious nation that it is – immigrants.
Like so many others, my grandparents Arturo and Gemma Soldati, came to America with same aspirational dream: a better life for themselves and their family, free from tyranny and religious persecution. America has always rewarded hard work, and my grandparents’ American dreams came true. It is that same dream that inspires immigrants today to make the often dangerous and harrowing journey to America and to wait years and sometimes decades for citizenship. Americans know that immigrants are our neighbors and our friends, they are members of our congregation, they are the parents of our children’s friends, and they only want what our grandparents wanted — the opportunity to make a better life for themselves. Immigrants are not only a crucial part of the American economy, they are a fundamental to America’s identity as a nation dedicated to prosperity and freedom.
Congress must ask now to confirm and protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. These young people are American in every sense, except on paper. They arrived to America as children, by no fault of their own. To be covered under the DACA program, these folks must go through extensive background checks. Not a single one of them have a criminal record. Upwards of 90% of them are employed. Many are students. Some are even serving our country in uniform. We made a promise to these remarkable young people that they could stay in America legally and build a life for themselves. It is out duty to honor these Undocumented Americans and keep our promise. Congress must act on DACA now.