By KEVIN DOI
The recent Senate vote on immigration reform carries great hope for the future of our country.
All of us benefit from the sacrifices made by our forebears, many of whom took long, arduous journeys to get to our nation’s shores.
As a third-generation American of Japanese descent, I know this full well. My grandparents and their families – including my father and mother – were among the thousands of Japanese Americans during World War II who were denied due process of the law, removed from their homes and placed in internment camps simply because they were the wrong kind of immigrant.
Despite this shameful aspect of American history, people like my grandparents managed to forge a life in this country through courage, hard work and fortitude. I am the direct recipient of their sacrifice.
This is why I was encouraged to see our nation’s leadership work together in the Senate, striving to create a better system for the current generation of immigrants seeking to make a better life for themselves and their families here in the United States.
I realize the legal, economic and pragmatic issues surrounding immigration in this country are complex. But as the debate continues about borders and fences, it becomes increasingly important to remember that the fundamental concern is still about people.
As co-founder of the educational nonprofit JOYA Scholars in Fullerton, we see the adverse effect of current immigration laws on real families as we attempt to assist students in junior high and high school pursue dreams of a college education.
That’s why faith leaders like myself from Orange County are joining voices and calling for humane, common sense immigration reform.
The Christian story compels us to care for the most vulnerable and marginalized in our society. We are called to welcome immigrants and care for the poor, regardless of background or even legal status. One of the ways we can extend this type of concern is to advocate for immigration laws that respect human dignity and the unity of the family.
Our nation always has grappled with the topic of immigration. Immigrants come with their own languages, customs and backgrounds, which can sometimes make us feel uneasy. But we must remember it always has been this way with each wave of immigrants to the U.S. over the past 200 years. Yet it is the source of the richly diverse, distinct and beautiful country we enjoy today.
Support for reform is stronger than it ever has been. The faith community in Orange County is working with leaders across the country to educate and mobilize others to support just and humane immigration laws.
Our hope is that by this time next year, aspiring undocumented Americans will really have something to celebrate.