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Oscar for Valid Dreamers

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LUPITA OSCARS
John Shearer/Invision/AP

On Sunday, Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón became the first Latin American director to win the Oscar for best director. For many of us, Cuarón's Gravity went beyond mere film to become an outer space experience. Combining award-winning visual artistry, suspense and human drama, he made an incredible conceptual work with this masterpiece that will last in our minds for many, many years.

But Cuarón was not the only immigrant to receive an award on Sunday. Mexican cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, a six time Academy Award nominee, won an Oscar for his work on Gravity. Lupita Nyong'o, a Mexican-Kenyan actress, won the Oscar for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for 12 Years a Slave. Filipino-American songwriter Robert Lopez and his wife Kristen won the title for Best Original Song for their work, "Let It Go," in the Disney animation, Frozen. And the Oscar for Best Actress went to Australian actress Cate Blanchett for her stellar performance in Blue Jasmine.

The incredible work of these artists is a clear example of the critical contributions immigrants make to our country. America's legacy has been crafted by generations of hard-working men and women who moved to the United States from all over the globe to pursue their dreams. In various fields, such as science, technology, sports, business and the arts, immigrants enrich our culture every single day.

I am proud to represent New York's 13th Congressional District, which has one of the largest and diverse populations in the country. Our District, which includes Harlem, Washington Heights, El Barrio, parts for the Bronx, is home to increasing number of Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and Asians who have blended into the traditional Black and Jewish communities. I have seen firsthand how their innovative ideas, cultural offerings, entrepreneurship and talent help to move our society forward.

Our immigration policy should be driven by what is in the best interest of this great country and the American people. Comprehensive immigration reform will strengthen U.S. security and boost economic growth. Orderly and controlled borders, combined with an effective immigration system designed to meet our needs are important pillars of a healthy and robust economy. We need to act swiftly on immigration legislation that will allow many of the immigrants to become citizens and further contribute to the American foundation.

We must not forget that America is a nation built by immigrants. As President Obama highlighted in his 2014 State of the Union Address, America should remain the place where everyone has an opportunity to create a better future, regardless of one's origins.

During her acceptance speech, Lupita Nyong'o eloquently remarked: "No matter where you're from, your dreams are valid." Our nation has always been a place where people can pursue their dreams. We should continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform that can create a pathway to citizenship, and provide every talented person, like each of the 2014 Oscar winners, the opportunity to succeed in the greatest nation on Earth.

The stories of Alfonso Cuarón, Emmanuel Lubezki, Lupita Nyong'o, Robert and Kristen Lopez, and Cate Blanchett, like those of many across the country, remind us how immigrants make America more beautiful.

Some may argue that the big winner of the 2014 Academy Awards was "Gravity," which won seven Oscars. Others may say it was "12 Years a Slave", which won the Oscar for Best Movie. But for me, the biggest winner of the 2014 Oscars was America, for her magnificent role in embracing the astounding contributions of immigrants from all over the world.