“Every American who ever lived, with the exception of one group, was either an immigrant himself or a descendant of immigrants.”

-John F. Kennedy

Every Fourth of July, I’m reminded how lucky I am to have been born in this country, to immigrant parents who left everything they knew behind in search of a better life for themselves and their future children.

ABC News reports that today, on America’s birthday, nearly 14,000 immigrants became America’s newest citizens, swearing the oath of allegiance at 27 naturalization ceremonies across the country.

Today, in honor of our country’s birthday and its newest citizens, Ahmad Immigration Law celebrates our nation of immigrants and reflects on an experience and history that is uniquely American.

Immigrants Built America

Like my parents, our Founding Fathers were all immigrants. They crossed oceans and fled tyranny in hopes of a better life, and to build a more perfect union. Our Declaration of Independence, the document responsible for today’s holiday, memorialized their hopes and dreams, and solidified this country’s moral imperative:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

More than a century later, in 1892, Ellis Island opened. Over the next 60 years, more than 12 million immigrants – many the ancestors of those of European descent – crossed through the nation’s busiest inspection station to start a new life in a strange land. Most did not speak English. Many were dirt poor. These individuals went on to start businesses, build our railroads and skyscrapers, become teachers, doctors, and lawyers, and serve in our military.

Today’s immigrants have the same hopes and dreams, the same incredible work ethic, and the same desire to contribute to our great nation. If you’ve ever attended a naturalization ceremony, you know how much joy and pride fills that room. It’s the American Dream personified, and today’s immigration system makes it too difficult to obtain.

Today’s immigrants make up a vital part of America’s workforce. Nearly one in six U.S. workers is an immigrant, and together they contribute billions of dollars in taxes and add hundreds of billions to the U.S. economy. Some of most iconic and valuable brands in the world – companies like Google, McDonalds, General Electric, and Citigroup – were founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.

Immigrants helped build our great nation. They continue to enrich our economy and communities, and they should be welcomed – the same way my parents were welcomed four decades ago.

Today, on Independence Day, my hope for America is that we continue to work together to build a more perfect union, toward an immigration system that gives more people the chance at life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.