When my family immigrated to the US in the 1800’s, I know there were people who looked down on the eastern European countries from which they came. My family members, like so many other immigrants, worked hard to build a better life for themselves and to build this great nation. Today, as a rabbi in South Florida, I’m so lucky to know many Haitians, many El Salvadorians and many people from African nations who are building better lives for themselves and building a better America. We can argue about immigration policy. But as a nation of immigrants, as “a light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6), we must share our stories when our President, according to reports that he now denies, denigrates the homelands of good, hardworking, law abiding Americans and, allegedly, expresses a desire to have more immigrants from countries like Norway. In the 19th century, my family, like many of yours, left eastern Europe because of deplorable conditions. To this day, people come to our shores because, as Emma Lazarus wrote, they’re “yearning to breathe free.” We must always be a haven to those seeking a better life. Yes, we need to improve our immigration system, but we can’t do this when we fail to be “a light unto the nations”.
Thank you Congresswoman Mia Love – a Haitian American, the first black female Republican elected to Congress and the first black American elected to Congress from Utah – for your powerful statement, for sharing your story and for reminding us that the American Dream is a diverse dream that we must protect.