News & Politics

Colin Powell: Our Streets and Neighborhoods Bear the Indelible Marks of Immigrants’ Cultures

In a February speech, Powell laid out the rationale for sane immigration policies.

On February 5, 2009, General Colin Powell delivered an address at the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies at the City University of New York. This is a condensed version of that speech.

General Colin Powell.

I can’t think of a better place to talk about the integration of immigrant populations into America than in this city and at the City University of New York. The city of New York is celebrated around the world as the place where people from all over the world first come to America. You know about the Statue of Liberty and about Ellis Island. We have a museum on Ellis Island that commemorates those arrivals. Our streets and neighborhoods bear the indelible marks of immigrants’ cultures, their languages, their food, their ideas. Nowadays, there are many gateways into the U.S., but New York remains marked in a special way by its immigrant residents and by the neighborhoods and families they came to build over these many years. And it is important to note that people didn’t just come here to find jobs or to go to school. They came to be Americans, because that meant to come from anywhere in the world and take your place alongside other people from anywhere in the world, and for all to somehow belong to something new, something wonderful. Never forgetting your roots, never forgetting where you came from or where your family came from, but now you’re all one—a strong one in our great diversity. The city has thrived on its immigrant residents and there is a wise recognition in the policies of this city of how vital immigrants are to New York City and New York State.

Read the entire speech here.

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