This morning, President Bush welcomed 29 newly sworn-in citizens at Ellis Island.
“With a single oath,” he said, “you become as fully American as the most direct descendant of a founding father.”
It’s an old idea—that it’s not where we come from but what we believe that makes us American. Eight of the 55 men who wrote the Constitution weren’t born here.
That idea is more powerful than ever. Last year, 849,807 immigrants became U.S. citizens; 48,054 more applied for political asylum.
And we’ve become more diverse than ever. New voices from around the world are part of our culture and politics. Such diversity raises issues, like English-only education and the legal rights of aliens...issues that can raise tensions. But that’s the price of the Constitution’s success.
Despite our problems, the freedom that our Constitution guarantees still draws people from all over who are “yearning to breathe free.”