July 4 is popularly associated with the Declaration of Independence. At its very foundation, it is the assertion that people are, and ought to be, equal. This inherent equality of humans is not a passive status. It carries with it the endowment of basic, God-given human rights. The most familiar of these to American audiences are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
These tenets on which this great nation was founded hold a particular weight this July 4 with the hope of comprehensive immigration reform. The numbers of people hoping and praying for this reform are truly staggering. In my time here at CLINIC, one particular story from a CLINIC affiliate embodies for me the immigrant spirit and the ideology on which America was founded. This immigrant came from Peru as a child without documentation. She excelled at school despite a lack of scholarship opportunities and funded her studies by working two jobs throughout college. Because of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), she was able to receive legal status. Her story could have ended with her, a happy ending for herself as an individual, but she has chosen to use her experiences to dedicate her life to educating others and advocating for justice for all immigrants. Hers is just one of the many stories I’ve read during my tenure at CLINIC. She, and others like her, strives not just to improve her own lot but to bring life, liberty, and happiness to the country at large.
It is important to remember that the Declaration itself was a radical and literally revolutionary piece of literature. It galvanized a movement and kick-started modern history. It began a shift in world view, in which all people could be legally and socially accepted as equal.
*Karen Sealy is an intern with CLINIC