We, the American people, have elected our 45th president. Today, as we all go on with our daily routines, a new era is beginning. Today we must search deep within and find a renewed commitment to our nation, to unity, and to the belief in the wisdom of our founding fathers who established our nation and our system of governance in the name of freedom and democracy. Though the political debate surrounding immigration has always been contentious, the presidential campaign revealed a divisive and ugly rhetoric unbefitting our country.
As a woman, an immigrant, a former asylee, an immigration attorney, and a proud U.S. citizen, I feel the election boils down to one clear fact: that we must continue to work towards acceptance and inclusion because within our borders, our citizens feel excluded. We must figure out a way to address that while highlighting the ways in which the values our forefathers held to be true continue to define America as a nation.
It has been said so many times before but we truly are a nation of immigrants, established by the robust and resilient spirit of those who believed a democracy must be based not only on our individual contributions but also on our strength as a united nation. That’s why, when our core values are challenged or questioned, it is essential that we come together, rise above the discord, and move forward.
As a woman, as an immigrant, and as an asylee, today I urge our nation to hold true to the principles engraved on our statue of liberty, a symbol that continues to serve as a beacon of safety and refuge in a time of uncertainty and fear. Equally important however, as an immigration attorney, today I hope that the American people can look beyond fear, beyond hate, and beyond the untruths to forge ahead in a new era for all.
Our 45th president has taken some strong stances against immigration. As advocates and experts in what is wrong with our current immigration system, it our duty to see that this new administration truly understand the strengths and weaknesses of our current system so we can modernize it and bring it into the new era.
This is the time to articulate the facts and dispel the myths. Now is the time to push the truth to the forefront and correct the misconceptions about immigrants and immigration. The fact is that immigrants contribute to our economy, to our society and to our communities. The fact is that immigrants are not more likely to commit crimes than American citizens. The fact is that immigrants have proudly served in our military and fight along with us for the freedoms we all hold dear.
We must also remember the 11 million individuals and their families that have for years anxiously awaited action. We must accept that our border is as secure as it has ever been in the history of our nation and that an orderly, humane, and lawful immigration policy is what our nation needs. And finally, we must acknowledge that immigrants are an essential component of our shared prosperity and are necessary for the strength of our nation.
Let’s roll up our sleeves and show that we can in fact come together for the sake of our future.
Written by Annaluisa Padilla, AILA President-Elect