06/06/2007 02:38 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Immigration and Fried Chicken: A Potent Mix

The Senate stirs with dozens of amendments about immigration. Until a few months ago, I was not sure where I stood on this immigration reform issue. As a resident of Los Angeles, I know that our economy here depends upon literally hundreds of thousands of people who do not have "documents." Our state has millions. Our country has some twelve million.

We think of these folks variously as "them," a problem, a blessing that makes our apples cheaper or just a bunch of Mexicans. We rarely think of "them" as vital to our economy or as part of us, well, unless "they" take care of our kids and increasingly our parents, blow our leaves, build our spare rooms. Well, you get the picture.

But just to be sure you do get the picture, we have created a website and campaign called Dreams Across America. None other than Lou Dobbs told us we were on the right track when he attacked us last week. We have one simple goal: to introduce the American community to individual immigrants, first to fifth generation, all of whom share the American dream.

Our featured immigration story today is AQ. She's a chef at Jardiniere in San Francisco, a restaurant HufPosters in the Bay Area will likely have visited. Have a look. Hear and see her American story. And maybe in the process you'll learn how Mexican fried chicken inspired a rising chef.

Last week when we introduced our site with Arianna's immigration story, many of you commented that there is a fundamental difference between illegal and legal immigration, making clear that the immigrants of the last century who helped power the growth of this nation were somehow more entitled to be here than the Mexicans who sneak over our border. Check your facts. Until early in the twentieth century "documentation" for immigration consisted of boat manifests, not complex laws and most of those laws arose because too many Jews were getting in. I'm glad my grandparents made it when they did.

In the last twenty years, scare mongers like Tom Tancredo have become convinced that a brown invasion will destroy America. That's no different than in the past, when Chinese folks came to build our railroads and were ghettoized, Japanese were interned during World War II, Irish scared the dickens out of the previous Protestants. And what about those Italians?

Let's start to get to know one another and then push our Congress and president to build a workable policy that puts those who are here on a path to citizenship and stops the underground movement of workers that our government winks at and our businesses crave. Join us at Dreams Across America and tell us what you think.