Senior Tiernan O’Neill reacts to the false threats of “anchor babies” from GOP presidential candidates. Cartoon by Ashley Lawrence.
By TIERNAN O’NEILL – Editor-in-Chief
After hearing inflammatory remarks from Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, senior Tiernan O’Neill looks back to three words on the seal of the United States of America.
There are three Latin words engraved on the official seal of the United States of America: E pluribus unum. In English, this translates to “out of many, one”.
For many years, this phrase was the de facto motto of the nation, an allegory for the 13 original colonies from which the fledgling country was born.
To me, E pluribus unum means out of many heritages and identities, one America. During British rule, the colonies were a refuge for the ostracized of all kinds Maryland for the Catholics, Massachusetts Bay for the Puritans and Georgia for debtors.
America offered a second chance, a new hope.
This attitude led America to develop into the world’s cultural melting pot. As a child, I lived in Berkeley, California, an extremely diverse community. I had classmates of many different creeds, ethnicities and income levels at school–the melting pot in action.
I often wondered what tied my classmates together, what common thread or experience we shared? How could we speak different languages, say different prayers and eat different foods, but still listen to the same music, learn the same history and watch the same movies?
As I got older, I realized what tied us together. We were all American. No matter what backgrounds we come from, be it Chinese or Zambian, we are all (Enter)-American.
According to the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, no matter where one’s parents were born or their citizenship status, if a child is born in the United States, he or she is a citizen of this nation.
This clause is what allows our country to be the bubbling cauldron of cultures and beliefs that it is. America’s policy of birthright citizenship is what keeps the American identity and dream alive.
It’s the dream that my father had when he spent his all of his savings and flew across the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland. The dream that my mother’s grandfather had when he left his village in the Italian Alps to better his quality of life.
But birthright citizenship is under fire.
Republican presidential candidates, like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz (himself an immigrant), rail against this rib of the American identity, warning of the hordes of “anchor babies” or American-born children of undocumented immigrants flooding our nation. They talk of closing our borders and staunching the flow of immigrants to protect the “American identity,” slowly ripping Old Glory apart.
To be an American citizen is to be a part of something bigger than oneself. It is to be a single thread in the multiethnic fabric of the beautiful patchwork quilt that is the United States. What it means to be American is ever-changing as new threads are sewn in everyday–and that is something to celebrate.