It’s about knowing English, even as we strive to acquire new languages. It’s about surrendering your allegiance to another country or another flag, and — as President Kennedy said — asking not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.
It’s about accepting that with rights come responsibilities. It’s about being proud to be part of a narrative that includes the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Edison, Martin Luther King and Thurgood Marshall, Robert Kennedy and Robert Frost, Cesar Chavez and Sonia Sotomayor. Most of all, it’s about recognizing and accepting that the greatness of this country makes us all look tiny by comparison.
That’s a lot to think about. So let’s give the undocumented legal status as soon as possible so they can’t be deported by an administration that has shown a knack for apprehensions and removals.
And yet let’s also make the path to citizenship long enough so those who travel it have time to process it all and difficult enough so that, if they eventually get citizenship, they’ll treasure it.