Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), grandson of the late Attorney General Robert Kennedy and grand-nephew of the late President Kennedy, spoke on the House floor on the eve of St. Patrick’s Day on the United States’ history on immigration rhetoric.
Kennedy told the story of a family who immigrated to the U.S. in hopes of a better life for their children, escaping “instability in their native land” and a government who “ignored their struggles and suffering.”
Once in America, Kennedy says that the family was shunned for their “accents, their faith, and their foreign ways.” They were denied work, but worked even harder to overcome the barriers meant to oppress them. With time and dedication, that family was able to eventually achieve “some measure of success and stability.” He described the contributions to society that this family and others from their native land were able to make, and the benefits of those contributions which cannot be denied.
‘Now, Mr. Speaker, I’m sure that there are Garcias, or Asgardis, or Rodriguezes that share that same story, but the one I tell is not theirs. This family’s name is Kennedy.’
The congressman went on to talk about the struggles faced by many families who work so hard and have such hope, the contributions that immigrants from all over the world have made the culture and very fabric of the United States, and the rhetoric around immigrants that remains sadly unchanged since the Kennedy family came to it’s shores 150 years ago.
Kennedy went on to describe his grandfather’s fight to change the bigoted rhetoric that have harmed and marginalized immigrants in his own time and the pushback from those who fought against him.
‘The opposition that he and other advocates faced half a century ago sound eerily familiar to so many of us today. “Immigrants who will flood our cities and towns, they will take American jobs. They will poison American culture. They aren’t from here. They aren’t like us. They are somebody else’s babies.” 50 years later, the opposition still hasn’t updated their talking points.’
For the full speech, see video below:
Featured image screengrab via YouTube