I’ve always been proud to be an Irish and Italian American and I’m grateful my ancestors came over here to enjoy the privilege and opportunity of being an American. Only in America would an Irishman and Italian woman meet and make me. Only in America would I meet and marry a Filipina. I’m a little embarrassed that some of the most prominent anti-immigrant voices in this administration share my heritage, but forget our roots. Forget that once we were “without papers”. Forget that once we were the ones with the funny religion, who didn’t speak the language, who weren’t considered fully white or fully American, who were taking the jobs away from the people who were born here.
The reason I love teaching history is because the past always feels alive to me and ready to teach us something new. We should never forget our past, not only to avoid repeating its mistakes, but to learn from what worked. Immigration built America. Immigration will continue to rebuild and reshape America. Only in the new world have we broken down the barriers that divided the old. This American success story should continue. We welcome the hustlers, the dreamers, the entrepreneurs alongside the hungry refugee. It’s what we do. It’s what makes us America. It’s what made us all American.