July 12, 2013
By Beth Filipiak, Community Organizing Intern
This past weekend, as our nation watched fireworks, barbequed and spent time with family and friends, hopefully we took time out as well to contemplate what it means to “Be an American”. As I reflect on what being an American means to me, particularly as a person who is determined to live a life dedicated to human rights and justice, I find my work as an intern at JCUA quite illuminating.
JCUA is part of a local and national effort to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Part of my internship has included the chance to ‘stand up’ with people fighting for an America where they are recognized as they have seen and been conducting themselves for years: as Americans. They desire the opportunity to be free from fear of raids and deportations and being torn from family and communities where they have worked and lived for years- maybe their entire life. I have rallied, protested and signed petitions to encourage our elected officials to acknowledge the personhood and human dignity of each individual already here and to enact Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
I believe that by accident of birth, I was born into a freedom of privilege that is not of my doing. However, it is what I do with that privilege that defines me. To be proud to be an American means that I will work toward an America that respects people fully and provides a true, practical and possible avenue toward citizenship for those who are here already – still allowing others who have been waiting outside the country the same chance to pursue citizenship themselves. As someone who believes strongly in the potential of people, I have to also believe in the potential of my country and our elected officials to do what is right. To look forward, we have to acknowledge the truth: our country has been and IS STILL being built by immigrants. We are a country full of opportunity and promise, and I believe that as a country, we need to make those promises and opportunities more available to all.