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I am a first-generation college student, born into a large Italian family of immigrants. Immigrants make our communities and economy more robust. They infuse our society with incredible cultural histories, food, art, and language. They remind us of the strengths and struggles that so many of our family stories share: that of hope, of strife, of triumph, of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free in this great country.

We must create a pathway to citizenship for all those living in fear of deportation. We cannot forget that these undocumented folks are also family members, workers, consumers of goods, and – most importantly – human beings. We must reunite the families separated at the border, expand our asylum policies, and comprehensively overhaul our immigration system so that those living fearfully in the shadows of society can feel secure in openly joining the community. We must also ensure that all the undocumented in our nation are provided with a fair and humane path to become taxpayers and eventually citizens.

To people worldwide, the Statue of Liberty has always represented a sense of hope and opportunity found in America. We must strive to live up to the ideals embodied by the Statue of Liberty and never forget how immigrants have contributed to the richness and greatness of our nation.

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