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Rep. Joe Garcia Headshot

Independence Day - a Celebration of Liberty and Justice for All?

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Every summer, in the first week of July, we come together as Americans to celebrate "Independence Day," or more commonly known as the Fourth of July -- a revered and illustrious day in American history.

This year, as we gather with our family and friends to fly our flags high in the sky and display our deepest sense of patriotism, we reflect on our nation's pillars and values of freedom, liberty and justice.

When our Founding Fathers first celebrated America's "birthday," they printed their signatures on a document that would unify us all and celebrate our collective quest for freedom and opportunity, breathing life into a new nation. For years before and after, waves of immigrants flocked to the US seeking the chance to make their own decisions, govern themselves and establish a better life for themselves and their families in this new land of opportunity. They built homes, settled communities and founded some of the most successful companies in the world that are still standing today.

Generation after generation, our nation has been built by immigrants, eventually giving rise to the birth of the American Dream -- a notion establishing that with hard work and opportunity, anything is possible.

From Key West to the West Coast, and everywhere in between, our country has been blessed with diverse contributions of greatness -- innovation, enterprise, art, culture and more. In my district, where diversity is the majority, my constituents settle from all around the world, strengthening our community and economy. As this vast human landscape flourishes with innovative ideas and individual input, we never grow stale or become stagnant; we continue to perpetuate the original intent of our ancestors' hope for America.

As we reach the halfway mark of 2014, the world's oldest democracy still struggles with the basic notion that the United States was founded, developed and enhanced by immigrants, owing much of its success to the hard work and sacrifice of the generations that came before us. With immigration reform policies seemingly as old as the Declaration of Independence, our nation's laws fail to reflect this legacy.

It's been more than 30 years since our immigration policies have been revised. But it hasn't been more than 30 years since the last immigrant arrived making some of the greatest contributions to the prodigious landscape of this ever-evolving nation. Immigrants invest, innovate and improve our communities. From owning and operating our favorite neighborhood restaurants, to fueling the creative fires at some of our largest think tanks, we are America.

As true Americans -- a collective and unified body -- we owe it to ourselves, our country and our future generations, to stand up for what is right for this country -- commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform. We owe it to our forefathers to build solid structures upon the foundation they laid for us -- to help it flourish, to honor the true underpinnings of our nation.

As we hail this holiday, let us be reminded of the reason we celebrate America's birthday -- a commitment made by generations of immigrants to establish, develop and promote opportunity, freedom and progress for all.

It's time for change, it's time for comprehensive immigration reform and the time is now!

Rep. Garcia is the lead sponsor of H.R. 15, House Democrats' immigration reform bill, as well as the leader of the discharge petition effort.

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