Women’s History Month is an opportunity to focus on the many women who have immigrated here and forged the nation we know today, including the first female U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright; Dr. Rita M. Rodriguez, the first woman to teach at Harvard Business School; and Maya Lin, the architect of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. While the achievements of these women are significant, women’s history also includes the unnamed women who advanced the course of our country. This encompasses the women who pioneered the West, those who taught in schools and toiled in factories. Our nation was built by women who sought a better life for themselves and their families. It was built by women who worked their way up career ladders, and who worked in the home; by those who followed their dreams, and by those who sacrificed their dreams for the sake of others. Women’s history includes you, and your mother, your sister, and grandmother, and all the things they have done which make our nation what it is. Our personal histories are just as noteworthy as our public one.
No matter how long we have been here, days, decades, or all our lives, each resident of the United States is a part of its history and its future. As the President said in his State of the Union address:
We are citizens. It’s a word that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status. It describes the way we’re made. It describes what we believe. It captures the enduring idea that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations; that our rights are wrapped up in the rights of others; and that well into our third century as a nation, it remains the task of us all, as citizens of these United States, to be the authors of the next great chapter in our American story.
We Americans have one thing in common: we want the best possible life for our families, whether for economic security or for personal safety. For some, making the decision to immigrate to the U.S. provided themselves and their families the best possible opportunities. That is certainly true of my own family, who immigrated here more than 50 years ago.
In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama reminded Americans how significant immigration is to our country and the importance of repairing the broken immigration system. The President’s commonsense immigration reform proposal has four components: strengthened borders, tougher enforced penalties for businesses that hire undocumented workers, a path to earned citizenship for those undocumented immigrants who are already here, and an update to the legal immigration system. Commonsense immigration reform will strengthen our families, society, and country.
As a woman, an Asian American and Pacific Islander, a business owner, a Democrat, and a proud citizen, I strongly support commonsense immigration reform that would allow our families to be reunited; that would allow us to retain hard-to-get skills for the benefit of our businesses; that would allow “DREAMers” to have a path to citizenship; that would look at immigrants as the basic foundation of our society—as someone once said to me, even the original settlers were immigrants themselves!