When Pres. Obama decided, on June 15, to make it possible for young undocumented immigrants to become documented citizens, after they meet criteria and a gauntlet, Conservative politicians and pundits cried foul.
Pulitzer Prize-earning journalist, Jose Antonio Vargas’ campaign of “coming out” as an undocumented, yet very American and English-speaking worker reminds me of an unpleasant side of America – That is because of the provincial vitriol that has dogged his movement, DefineAmerican.com, his peers and himself. The day before the president’s announcement, Mr. Vargas appeared on CBS This Morning on June 14. And then, a few days later, Pres. Obama announced a way for Mr. Vargas’ peers to retreat from fear and open their arms to a path to being documented citizens.
Gratitude is a trait and virtue that ever fewer people understand or appreciate in political or other public realms.
We Americans are often ingrates; we take a lot for granted; we have and presume rights and access, which we are convinced, by the Declaration of Independence, are only natural and right. And strangers to our land find them extraordinary, majestic and magical. Maybe we are simply spoiled.
The undocumented workers are grateful for the possibility of the American freedom to pursue happiness, education and prosperity. We Americans, who rarely know a different life, take these freedoms for granted! It offends.
On CBS This Morning Mr. Vargas described his immigrant peers and himself this way on June 14: “We’re invisibly invisible. We’re here! Give us a process that we can enter; that doesn’t exist.” And that is just one misunderstanding, and pillar of that contentious crisis.
When patriotic, English-speaking American-born and yet undocumented workers are provided with an opportunity to become citizens, Conservatives believe that they have another reason to sound their shrill alarm against the “others.”
It’s difficult to sympathize with that portion of our society when you remember that ours began as one founded by people who fled from tyranny and oppression; when you remember that the poem, from Emma Lazarus, on the Statue of Liberty reads in part, “give us your tired your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.”
Clearly, some of our fellow Americans want to leave that part of our national identity behind as refuse itself. And that prospect is wretched.
Citizenship, civil, engaged and grateful reflects the best and most admirable of America. I prefer Mr. Vargas’ genial attitude to those of the Conservatives who vilify his peers or himself.