Two of the most sacred principles that define America, immigration and the right to vote, hang in the balance as we celebrate the birth of our nation. Will we pause long enough to examine whether the Fourth of July, perhaps our most sacred holiday as a nation, is losing its meaning right here in America?
We all know, or at least should know, that the day represents the birth of America with all of its principles and promises – all of the individual freedoms that our ancestors, bonded and free, fought and died to protect. But after 237 years, where are we?
We only need to reflect on two recent occurrences to know that we are in need of some serious reflection, as Americans, as a nation.
The first: Why are we unable to pass an immigration reform bill? We use to be a nation that welcomed immigrants from faraway lands. Today, we have more than 11 million illegal immigrants from our next-door neighbor, Mexico, and our representative government can’t seem to agree on a measure that allows them a path to citizenship.
But, in the meantime, we continue to profit from their sweat, toil, and tears. Their hard work and cheap labor is critical to harvesting the vegetable fields and fruit orchards to bring food to our tables. They continue to help raise our children, clean our homes, care for our yards.
Where is the welcome mat that would allow these immigrants to come through the front door of citizenship in America? Wasn’t that one of our founding principles?
The second occurrence: The highest court in the land has made it easy for many states that are trapped in the culture of inequality, to continue to make it difficult, if not impossible for blacks and other minorities to cast a vote in this great democratic land of ours.
On this Fourth of July, how can it be that there are some American citizens that still face unnecessary barriers too simply cast their vote?
We need to ponder on some of these things as we watch the parades and fireworks, indulge in cookouts, and consume our favorite beverages.
We can begin by asking two questions: Are we a nation that still welcomes immigrants? And, do all of our citizens have the same path to exercising a very basic freedom, a vote?
If the answers are not a quick and resounding YES, shouldn’t we be concerned?