Today is my mother’s 105th birthday. Born in 1914, she is the child of immigrant parents. Her mother came to the United States with her family from a mountain village in northern Italy. Her father, a native of Cornwall, England, immigrated as a young man. Following the legal pathway laid out in the U. S. Constitution, they became citizens.

Most of us, unless we are 100% Native American, can trace our ancestry back to other countries. At some point in time, our ancestors traveled from another continent or country to what is now the United States. Each national or ethnic group or individual had their reasons for coming: persecution, new economic opportunities, adventure, or something else. Some were forced against their own wills. Our country became known as the Melting Pot, where many identities melded into the American identity.

Everything wasn’t perfect or easy for immigrants. They had to learn a new language and way of life, and they had to work hard. Their dreams and expectations of a better life met many roadblocks. Cultural clashes often resulted in fights and discrimination. Language barriers created confusion and resulted in new arrivals being mistreated. Citizens resented non-citizens. Prejudices existed and still do.

American history is filled with stories of immigrants who left behind everything familiar in order to create a new life and fulfill dreams. Some stories are heroic and some simple, and many are filled with hardship and disappointments. I believe we have benefitted from the rich cultural heritages and personal talents that immigrants have brought with them.

Immigration is a hot button issue today. We live in a dangerous world, where despots seek to rule, and terrorists seek to create havoc. Because of faster transportation and communication, it’s a different place than it was when my ancestors arrived here.

The purpose of government is to protect its citizens. Our laws have been stretched and broken in an attempt to offer hope and opportunity to immigrants and refugees, to help families and individuals in need. It’s my prayer that Congress and the President will create and pass an immigration law that will be fair to and protective of citizens and, at the same time, will be fair to immigrants and allow them to pursue their dreams.

I’m an American citizen by birth, but I’m also a citizen of Heaven by spiritual rebirth. The pathway to heavenly citizenship is: agree with God that you’re a sinner; believe that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, died and shed His blood for your sins and came back to life; and receive Him as your Savior and Lord. This citizenship is available to you (Romans 10:9).

 Ephesians 2:13,19 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ….Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” NKJV

 Happy birthday, Mom!