My name is Pat. My first “American” family member got to these shores in 1621. His name is William Claiborne and there is a plaque dedicated to him in the church at Jamestown. However, the other half of my family is Irish. The Irish side of my family, while I am not certain, very likely arrived here without any papers since they fled here during the famine. So, in that sense, I feel I have as much right as anyone to formulate and voice opinions on the matter of what is “American” since my great great grandfather was helping to build the beginnings of this country by hand before the Mayflower even got here. So here’s my opinion. Welcome! Papers or no papers, you are my countrymen. I work as an intern for an incredible Congresswoman who actually co-authored the DREAM Act. I live in Los Angeles, where a large portion of our constituents are undocumented. I come into contact with undocumented people every day. I’ve met people who fought wars for the US, people who work 20+ hours each day to feed their kids, and people who continue to pledge allegiance to our flag despite being jeered at, spit on, and insulted with a term “illegal.” To my knowledge, there is no real way of determining who deserves to be American. What possible argument could be made that Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize winner and college graduate, gives less to our nation than the bigots who point fingers at him? Why are the people in the health clinics around South Central, who lose their limbs to diabetes before they are ever provided with the proper medical resources, viewed as subhuman because they don’t have a Social Security Number? Why would most people agree that a murderer like Charlie Manson is ‘American’ but that the undocumented students at universities across the country, who are working to employ their intuition and their imagination in order to become successful and make America a better place, are ‘aliens’? I don’t know the answers to those questions, but I do know that – regardless of what the answers are – I say welcome. I’m not only proud, but also grateful to have immigrants in my community and in my country. People bringing ideas and points of view from other lands is now and has always been precisely what sets America apart from other great countries and what makes America such an incredible place to live. Thank you for your contribution to this country.