AILA Doc No. 09082666 | Dated August 26, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC - Today the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) recognizes the sad passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, the lion of the Senate, by honoring his heroic contributions to our nation. A lifetime public servant and distinguished leader of the Senate chamber, Senator Kennedy tirelessly worked to promote and protect the rights of all Americans and to welcome immigrants in pursuit of the American Dream.
In 1965 during his first term as a U.S. Senator, Kennedy championed legislation to eliminate the existing immigration quotas that made it practically impossible for non-western Europeans to live, work, and thrive in the United States. Beginning with the 1965 bill, which removed discriminatory quotas and opened the doors to persons of all nations including immigrants from Latin American and Asian, up until the end of his life, Kennedy remained the Senate's most impassioned advocate for widening opportunities for America's newcomers.
His conviction that America is a land of dreams, optimism, and opportunity was evident in his lifelong fight for real and meaningful immigration reform. He once said, "From the windows of my office in Boston … I can see the Golden Stairs from Boston Harbor where all eight of my great-grandparents set foot on this great land for the first time. That immigrant spirit of limitless possibility animates America even today."
AILA President Bernard Wolfsdorf expressed his deep respect and admiration for Kennedy's leadership when he said, "From the refugees he helped resettle in 1980, to the workers whose status he helped adjust in 1986, to the highly skilled workers he helped bring to America in 1990, to the tens of millions of current and future Americans he wanted to help live the American dream in his 2006 legislation the Senator never gave up his crusade to maintain our great country as a nation of immigrants."
"Like Ted Kennedy's family, I too came to America for a better life and Senator Ted Kennedy's commitment to protecting and preserving this great American ideal meant so much to me. He was my hero. His gifted speeches and determined, often bi-partisan, approach to lawmaking served as constant reminder that America is a place where all can thrive and contribute to building this great nation."
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 09082666.