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An Immigrant's Love and Devotion to Country

It was hot on Penn’s landing this past Sunday, hotter than usual during the annual Mexican Independence Day celebration. The temperature was well into the 90s…

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It was hot on Penn’s landing this past Sunday, hotter than usual during the annual Mexican Independence Day celebration. The temperature was well into the 90s with huge humidity, made even more unbearable due to the large crowds. Still, it was a time to celebrate, an especially important occasion in a year in which there has been so very little to celebrate. Indeed, for many it was the only time all year, on this very small plot of land, this small plot of scorching concrete at Penn’s landing, that they have felt almost safe in America, safe from the stares of distrust and hatred that they have experienced on an increasingly daily basis since September 11th.

Thousands of Mexicans, many of them naturalized U.S. citizens,  accompanied by friends and family from all over Latin America as well as the U.S., enjoyed the sounds of both traditional and non-traditional  music, and, of course, delicious Mexican food.. The crowd was festive, especially the group that arrived later after putting in the usual 8 hour  work day which began at 6 in the morning. It was a time to greet friends and families, to enjoy the company of those who were there to rejoice in their Mexican heritage and love and devotion to country and culture.

The love that these immigrants and expatriates feel for their native country was vividly demonstrated by the shouting of their response to the Mexican Consul’s cry of “El Grito” and their proud salute to the Mexican flag. Boisterous men and children fell silent as they raised their arms in a salute to their first love, their native country of Mexico. For those gathered on Penn’s Landing, Mexico, while far away in mileage, is never far away from their hearts.

Equally close to the heart of those gathered in celebration and reverence was what so many Americans who are opposed to immigration, both legal and illegal, fail to see: the love and devotion these immigrants have for their adopted country, America. This love and devotion is equal to the love that they have for their country of birth and, given how they have been treated in our country, it is a love that grows increasingly harder to keep alive.

Many of those gathered at Penn’s Landing last Sunday may not have the immigration papers to establish any true claim to legal status in the U.S. but in their hearts, they long to and feel that they truly belong to America, just as they belong to Mexico. Certainly, a parent can love two children equally, for each child brings a different kind of love into the relationship mix. Similarly, our immigrants in America can and do love both their home country and America, their adopted country.  As McCain and Obama fight for the Latino vote in the upcoming election, it’s about time that both realize that our immigration laws must recognize the gift of  deep love, pride and devotion America’s immigrants offer and allow those who have chosen to adopt our country as their own the right to legally claim it as such.

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