THE BLOG
07/04/2005 12:40 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Freedom on the 4th of July

All across the country today, Americans will celebrate our independence. There will be no shortage of festivities, but there will be a shortage of freedom for one American soldier, Sergeant Carlos Lazo from Seattle, the city I represent in Congress.

Carlos came to America from Cuba in the early 1990s, floating on a raft in the ocean, risking his life to reach a country where people are free. He eventually settled in Seattle, became a U.S. citizen, joined the Washington National Guard and served in Iraq, where he was decorated for service as a combat medic.

Last year, Carlos tried to return to Cuba to visit his two sons, but he was turned back at the Miami airport because of strict new travel rules imposed by the Administration.

I’ve been working on his case for months and the answer is always the same and always bureaucratic. This administration is so callous that it cannot separate policy from people.

Carlos Lazo should have been with his sons in Cuba for Father’s Day a year ago, but was denied the right to be a father by an Administration that wraps itself in the mantra of family values.

Carlos Lazo should have been with his sons in Cuba for Father’s Day last month.

But the Administration will not act. Let me be clear. The Administration is unwilling, not unable, to act.

If they cared about one American denied his basic freedoms, they could write an exemption. Instead, Carlos Lazo is not free and the Administration’s cold-hearted policy betrays what this nation stands for and what we want to celebrate on the Fourth of July.

I’m not going to stop working to find a way to reunite Carlos Lazo with his children, but it is going to take a national outcry and I hope you will add your voices.

Carlos Lazo left a place where they told him what to do and now finds himself in a place where they tell him what he cannot do. An American citizen, father and decorated war hero is prohibited by his own government from traveling to Cuba to visit his two children. That is not what America is all about.

Do something good for America this week.

Celebrate America’s freedom and independence on the Fourth of July.

Then, demand the Administration grant Carlos Lazo freedom and independence on the Fifth of July. This is what America is all about.

Reunite Carlos with his children. Reunite America with its basic freedoms.