Ted Kennedy makes the case for liberal immigration policy.
Ted Kennedy: Well the great dilemma – looking at this sort of globally for a moment – is that on the one side, you had people that –
What are the values that Americans care very much about? They care about people that work very hard. They care about people that care about their families. They care about people that have a faith, and an understanding of their faith. And they care very much about people that want to contribute and make America great in terms of the future.
It so happens that those values are so often the values of the immigrants that were coming here.
What you had on the other side of the coin is this enormous magnet of the American economy drawing those individuals here. And those people came because they were prepared to sacrifice for their families. But when I recognize we have 70,000 of the, basically immigrants, that are serving in Iraq and serving in Afghanistan, hundreds have died in this war.
And our history and our tradition is filled with millions who have made this country the great country as it is. My great grandparents arrived in East Boston at the dock. I can look out my window in the JFK Building in Boston. I can see the dock that they arrived in. I can see the stairs which are called “The Golden Stairs” that lead up into East Boston. Every one of them went up in that not knowing what was going to happen, and they were fortunate. Some were fortunate, and we were able to participate in the democracy. It’s a great gift.
I think that is a compelling factor about how we ought to try and deal with this. We haven’t got unlimited opportunities and open-endedness in terms of immigration and coming to this country. But we ought to be able to understand what the central challenge is, and be able in a humane and decent way to respect the values that so many bring, and shape and develop a policy that’s going to also secure our borders and preserve our national security.
Recorded on: September 14, 2007