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Rest In Peace Sen. Ted Kennedy, Friend of Immigrants.


BY Xiaojia Lin [ September 02, 2009 at 00:55:59 ]

Edward “Ted” Kennedy was born on February 22, 1932. As the youngest brother of John and Robert Kennedy, Ted also had a very successful career in politics. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his J.D. from the University of Virginia. Ted Kennedy entered into the realm of politics when his brother, the late John Kennedy, ran for president in 1960; Ted successfully managed his campaign. Once John Kennedy vacated his seat, Ted officially took his place as a Massachusetts senator, remaining in that position until his death. Kennedy is the 3rd longest running senator in the history of the United States.

In May 2008, Kennedy was diagnosed with brain cancer. For over a year, he bravely fought the disease. His recent passing has left our country in a state of mourning. Sen. Kennedy, known as the “liberal lion”, has been a positive and influential force in affecting American policy and has significantly improved cancer research, health insurance, disability discrimination, AIDS care, civil rights, mental health benefits, children's health insurance, and education. Although these accomplishments have benefited the American people substantially, we at Zhang & Associates would like to recognize Sen. Kennedy’s important work on the issue of immigration. His tireless efforts on behalf of immigrants in America have made our country more compassionate and diverse.

Sen. Kennedy’s first major achievement on this issue came during the 1960’s with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which was heavily supported by the late Senator. Prior to the 1960s, U.S. immigration was regulated by provisions of the National Origins system, which essentially limited immigration from other countries to one sixth of one percent of the total population of people from a specific country living in the United States in 1920. This quota system was especially unfair to non-Western European immigrants because their populations were much less than those of Western European immigrants; and as a result, they received a much smaller number of visas under this quota system. The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 eliminated these extremely restrictive quotas. By removing these harsh restrictions, Sen Kennedy opened America’s doors to a new generation of immigrants from Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa, allowing them to pursue the American dream which before the passage of this act, had been out of reach. This act allocated 170,000 immigration visas to countries in the Eastern Hemisphere, with no more than 20,000 visas per country. As a result of his efforts to push this act through Congress, non-Western European immigration doubled between 1965 and 1970.

Although this was an incredible accomplishment, Sen Kennedy’s quest towards making America a country more open to immigrants did not end there. In 1986, Sen. Kennedy supported passage of the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which provided a path towards the legalization of immigrants who had been illegally present in the United States since January 1, 1982. It has been estimated that over 2.7 million people were given a path to legal status as a result of this legislation.

Sen. Kennedy was also a strong proponent of the Immigration Act of 1990. This important piece of legislation increased the number of legal immigrants allowed into America every year and also created the diversity visa lottery program. During the end of his career, Sen. Kennedy also attempted to work with Sen. John McCain to pass comprehensive immigration reform which was unfortunately prevented by conservative Republicans in Congress.

Sen. Kennedy leaves behind an impressive legacy as one who throughout his entire career supported foreign nationals in making their American dream come true. America’s immigrant community should be grateful for all of his landmark efforts. Had these important acts not been passed, America would certainly not be as diverse as it is today—a characteristic that has become our country’s trademark. We at Zhang & Associates mourn the loss of this great Senator and hope his memory will serve as a role model for future legislators as immigration issues are debated in the future. We also hope that Congress will pick up where he left off and continue to make our country more open to immigrants through comprehensive immigration reform.


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