Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s a time to celebrate family, friendship, and patriotism that transcends the boundaries of religion, race, or politics. On Thanksgiving, we put aside the things that divide us and are thankful for the blessings in each of our lives.
This year I took a look around the table and my Thanksgiving dinner took on an entirely different meaning. While myself and many other Americans were celebrating Thanksgiving with bountiful meals, there was another group of people sitting on the National Mall, eating nothing at all.
For the past several weeks, there has been a steadfast group of people who are fasting in order to bring attention to the ongoing battle for immigration reform.
All across the country, Americans were celebrating our shared but diverse heritage by sitting down to large meals of turkey, potatoes, cranberries, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and wine. All across the country, people were sharing a meal that could not have been possible without the many immigrant workers that labored to process the turkeys, fruits, and vegetables that they enjoyed this holiday.
When I looked at the food in front of us this year, I was thinking about the tens of thousands of immigrant workers that made our meal possible. I thought about the potato farmers in Idaho that worked long hours in the fields to harvest this year’s crop. I thought about the sweet potato farmers in North Carolina, and about the workers in the poultry processing industry that prepared our Thanksgiving turkey. And I thought about the workers harvesting the grapes in California that were used to make the wine we used to toast our many blessings this year.
While my family and I and millions of other Americans were enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner, many of the people who made it possible didn’t have that privilege. All around the country, countless people were continuing to work, and longing to see their own families.
It’s easy to take American citizenship for granted. But there are millions of people who celebrate our traditions with us, who work hard to support our shared economy, and who want nothing more than to call this country their own and to have our country recognize them in the same way.
Those who are fasting on the National Mall have seen this disparity. They are sacrificing their own health and wellbeing in order to draw our attention to this issue and call for the change that they know we are capable of. While most Americans celebrated our patriotism with a feast, they spent their Thanksgiving eating nothing and drinking nothing, in hopes that one day Congress will realize that the 11 million people that they are standing up for want nothing more than to be recognized and valued for the patriots that they already are.
Its time to put politics aside and see this issue for what it really is. There are people who share our American values, who work endlessly to support the American economy and who want nothing more than to be included in the American tradition. Why can’t we count them among our many blessings this year and give them the thanks that they deserve? It’s time for Congress to give them a vote to pass immigration reform.