The American Immigrant’s Duty


With her face toward the ocean, the Statue of Liberty holds the torch of freedom that shines with the flame of hope for those who are tossed on the darkened, stormy seas.  She promises a better life to those who embrace her message is a representative of the Golden Door, the entrance into freedom from oppression.  The Golden Door represents not just a new way of living but encourages immigrants to embrace a new way of thinking.

I am not just an immigrant, but the daughter of an immigrant. My father built a life for our family when he stepped through the Golden Door, respecting and honoring the laws of a new nation.  He followed the American laws and became a “legal” immigrant.  He did not come to this land and waive the flag of India. He embraced the American flag and melted into the pot of the nation that reached him with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When an immigrant walks through the Golden Door, they are subject to our nation’s laws.  Given the opportunity for a new life, it is the duty of all immigrants to obey the laws of our land and show respect by honoring our country, thus becoming an American…not an Indian American, African American, Chinese American, British American, Mexican American, Russian American….but an American. Those who live in America become Americans.  We become part of the country that opened their gates to welcome us.

“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, written in 1883, appears on the pedestal of the Statue of  Liberty. A segment of the poem has received much media attention by those who support the influx of illegal immigrants:

"Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me…”

Though true of some, this does not depict all of America’s early immigrants.  Many were self-sufficient, educated and skilled craftsmen and artisans.  They came and put down their roots in American soil because they wanted to be an American. They were willing to die for the freedom of all who would come to this great nation. They melted into the culture and adhered to the laws. 

Now, as we celebrate our nation’s 243 birthday, let us stop and think about our own personal view about America. As Nike makes headlines for being ashamed of our flag, athletes refuse to stand for our anthem and politicians attempt to redefine the values that formed our humble nation, where will we take our stand? Do we stand beside our flag with the appreciation of those who gave their lives for us to have a picnic, eat barbeque and watch fireworks?  Do we stop and take a moment to pray and thank God that we are living in the greatest nation on earth?  Have we thought of our military men and women and prayed for them as they risk their lives for our freedom?  Do we cherish the God of the Bible that our nation was founded upon? Are we truly honored to be an American and to be a part of the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The words of Justice Louis Brandeis gives the correct perspective: “The immigrant is Americanized when he “adopts the clothes, the manners, and the customs generally prevailing here . . . substitutes for his mother tongue the English language,” ensures that “his interests and affections have become deeply rooted here,” and comes “into complete harmony with our ideals and aspirations.” Only when the immigrant has done this will he have “the national consciousness of an American.”

Ryan Cross