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From a Daughter of Immigrants

How we treat immigrants will continue to define America in the eyes of the world. Will America continue to stand proud as a land of opportunity?

I am a daughter of immigrants from Italy. Many of you, too, have parents or grandparents that came from other countries and contributed their blood, sweat and tears to build a life and a home here in the United States. In fact, somewhere in the past, an immigrant family is the common heritage of almost all Americans.

Our families came to America to make a better life for themselves, and through their hard work they made a stronger America.

An anti-immigrant fever is rising

But pressure is building to slam America’s doors shut. Our local Republican Party of Sarasota proactively initiated a petition drive supporting passage of an Arizona-style immigration law in Florida. These laws don’t just allow, they encourage racial profiling and harassment of Hispanics and other minorities — whether they are in the country legally or not.

This same Republican Party of Sarasota has now started a second petition drive calling for English to become the official language of the United States – another effort to disenfranchise and make life harder for those who have come here from another country, including those who are here legally.

And on the national stage, Mitt Romney has said that America should make it so miserable for undocumented immigrants that they will “deport themselves.” That sounds like support for the Arizona law to me.

President Obama and the DREAM Act

In a nation where greatness was built on a foundation of immigrant families, these harsh and punitive proposals are neither appropriate nor beneficial for America.

President Obama knows this and believes comprehensive immigration reform is needed to protect the interests of Americans while at the same time creating responsible options for those who want to start a life in the United States. The DREAM Act – a law that would provide a path toward citizenship for young people eager to get an education, work hard, and make a contribution to America’s future – is a part of his solution.

“We’re going to keep fighting for this common-sense reform — not just because hundreds of thousands of talented young students depend on it, but because ultimately America depends on it,” the president said recently. And he added that "no" is not an option.

How we treat immigrants will continue to define America in the eyes of the world. Will we become a pariah nation known to make life so miserable for outsiders that no one wants to come here? Or will America stand proud by creating a path toward citizenship for young people who want to work hard and help make America’s future brighter?

President Obama has chosen the second option, and I hope that is the choice we will make as a nation.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Asher King May 10, 2012 at 11:33 AM
If we're not careful our country will become what they are trying to get away from. May the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob bless you all.
Steve Vernon May 10, 2012 at 12:01 PM
ILLEGAL immigrants are NOT the same as Legal Immigrants trying to become a US Citizen the right way --- you're deceitful in trying to say they're the same.
Carren Bersch May 10, 2012 at 12:20 PM
I am a 2nd-generation American, and we are all immigrants to this country, including those who now live on reservations. Like every other "challenge" we have, that of immigration has a peaceful and productive solution. Instead of arguing about the details of the solution, perhaps learning how to keep an open mind, "responding" instead of "reacting," and being patient and polite enough to actually hear what others believe might work or not would be more constructive. Swift attacks and snide comments get all of us, including our legal and illegal immigrants, nowhere.
Jim Thykeson May 10, 2012 at 12:31 PM
The hypocrisy of the repubs on this subject is outrageous! They want you to believe that these Mexican folks came here without any rhyme or reason. The reason they came is, they were recruited by the big agri-businesses, and then the const. trades, or any small to medium sized business where cheap labor was needed. We forget the 'field-wars' of Chavez when he tried to dignify his workers by not allowing them to be modern-day slaves in the fields of these repub owners! This truth is a point that has to be drummed home to the voting public so they know the REAL reason these folks are here.
Cathy May 10, 2012 at 12:49 PM
The authors attempt to malign the intentions of her political opponents using immigration as an issue totally throws the preverbal  baby with the bath water.  America's social services programs have become financially unsustainable for our indigenous citizens.  A total disregard for the immigration laws that have been in place have been purposely negated by the Democrat party.  Political correctness has given license to folks like this author, some perceived right to ridicule those who want to respect the law and systems that are in place so that both can be sustained in the long run.  What we are witnessing is the desire of some to appear to be more enlightened at the cost of all.  America, is a melting pot of people from all over the world.  We need a common language because as we see, even those that share English as their 1st language, confusion abounds when words are manipulated effectively.
Amanda T May 10, 2012 at 01:30 PM
I am also a daughter of immigrants. My father was an orphan at age 5 and came to America at age 14. Worked like a dog in his uncles restaurant as bus boy..then waiter then at age 30 opened his own restaurant and several other successful businesses in the years to come. Worked everyday 5am came home 10pm and retired at 50. The TRUE AMERICAN DREAM ! The mindset of immigrants of 60 yrs ago and today has changed drastically. Many came here and stopped speaking the language of their ancestry to assimilate into being real Americans. Speaking English gave you a sense of pride and that you were living the dream. It also granted you opportunity. There was no #2 to press for my parents language they learned it themsleves ! I also lived in Arizona for 15 yrs and raised my children there. It's lovely for the author to have "compassion at a distance" for the illegals that come in but till their actions impact you I discount her opinion. The ones that came for work to AZ have fled to Cali because there is no work. What is left are the thieves and drug dealers.They use resources they can scam to have as many things for free that they can. Money that could go to American families that need help. Rob Krentz was killed in southern AZ by those drug dealers and if he was your father you would have a different oppinion.Tell that family illegals are ok..Seal the boarder then start talking about immigration reform ! But our President hasn't even seen the boarder...pathetic...all done for votes.
Ogalley May 10, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Under the Obama administration, deportations of undocumented aliens are at an all time record of 400,000 a year. That is actually too many but at any rate it gives the lie to Cathy's statement that "A total disregard for the immigration laws that have been in place have been purposely negated by the Democrat party". I did not see anything in Rita Ferrandino's post about ridiculing people who support current Florida laws. I saw a valid criticism of people who want to introduce NEW harsher laws which are obviously engendered either by hatred of immigrants or by partisan political considerations. Obviously it is desirable for everyone to be able to speak English, and we should encourage that. But denying new legal immigrants the option to have any translation services, in documents, in court or legal proceedings, etc. is unduly harsh. And what about American Indians and Puerto Rico residents? If Puerto Rico were to become a state, are we going to force them all to speak English at all times?
Jim Thykeson May 10, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Again, these people wouldn't be here if there was no purpose for them to be here! Haven't you seen the fiber-optic cable-layers who are all wearing long pants, long sleeved shirts, and ball-caps, or bandannas!? Thats the 'illegals' hired by Verizon! I admire their work ethic, its not that, but remember, these people were RECRUITED to come here and take over (subsidize) our low level, unskilled, labor force! Small, to medium businesses did this so they could beat the wage problem. This is the reason their here. Repubs control most of what happens to workers, and this IS and HAS been their answer short of taking it off-shore.
Amanda T May 10, 2012 at 03:24 PM
NY Times April 27th..illegals stopped for traffic violations will not be detained. I think that falls under the category of total disregard to the fact that you are here illegally. The criticism is valid for those who would like our laws to actually be enforced not to be used as a political agenda to gain an election.As stated above seal the boarders then begin the discussion of reform otherwise it is all a mute point.Gov.Brewer's has asked the President to visit the boarder and he refuses which is an absolute disregard to the problem. The negative results from illegals coming in do not affect HIS family nor HIS neighborhood that is why it's "compassion from a distance".As far as English goes then there should be #'s to press for all the other beautiful languages spoken here but the rest of us make do and actually succeed as a result. No one is forcing anyone to speak English but that is the language used HERE, puerto rico has nothing to do with this, if Spanish was spoken here we would all be speaking Spanish no prob with that either. Kind of hard to succeed when you don't finish High School here let alone not speaking our language and being ENABLED to Not learn it. I saw 1st hand from my family the ones that chose not to learn English never benefited from all America had to offer. All the ones that spoke English were self taught and ALL were successful. I'm a proud 1st generation American and proud of my heritage As far as legal docs go we all need translators for that.lol
Sonia Pressman Fuentes May 11, 2012 at 12:41 AM
I enjoyed reading your article, Rita, especially as I'm not only the daughter of immigrants, like you, but an immigrant myself. I have on various occasions spoken and written on the subject of "How Being an Immigrant Shaped My Life."
Jan May 15, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Why do people leave their country of origin and emigrate to the U.S.? Economic opportunity. With our lack of job creation and multi-trillion dollar deficit, the opportunities for legal immigrants and U.S. citizens alike are dwindling. If, as a country, we continue on our current path, the results will be the same and no one benefits. In order to create a healthy economic climate for all, the hard decisions need to be made. We cannot afford to continue with entitlement programs at the current level, or cover the cost of adding thousands of immigrants to these programs. The math does not support it. Taxing the wealthiest 1% at higher rates will not even make a dent. The issue with illegal immigrants isn't racial. It IS economic. The system is broken, but politicians have no overarching interest to fix it as businesses want cheap labor and Dems have a bigger pool of voters they can control with promises of entitlements.
Ogalley May 15, 2012 at 04:19 PM
Jan, we all agree that we need to improve the economic climate and work to create more jobs. Cutting entitlements does not create more jobs. Yes, Social Security and Medicare need to be made sustainable and that is doable, especially if the economy improves. For example, Social Security can be fixed by increasing the Wage Base and perhaps a small increase in the contribution rate. Taxing the wealthiest at a fair rate will not balance the budget but it will make a sizable dent. Immigrants, legal or illegal, actually help to support the entitlement programs because they are more likely to be employed, and illegal immigrants contribute to Social Security but do not draw any benefits. Illegal immigrants come here (are brought here) for economic reasons and are attacked by the right wing for racial reasons.

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