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Editorial: Why celebrate the Fourth? Try asking a Guatemalan

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They don’t do the Fourth of July in Guatemala.

That’s because Guatemala’s equivalent of our Independence Day is on Sept. 15.

But as much as they criticize us and we demonize ourselves, multitudes of Guatemalans and their Central American neighbors seem to see the United States through traditional, you could almost say patriotic, eyes. They, apparently, aren’t persuaded by continual harping by President Obama and his followers about all the things wrong with our nation, including income inequality and the plight of the poor and of minorities. No, their actions show that to them, this is still the land of opportunity for those willing to seek a goal, even if one must overcome huge obstacles.

Besides poverty, the way we are perceived as a land of freedom and opportunity is a factor driving huge numbers of children and adults thousands of miles on foot and atop freight trains heading north to the promised land. They know there is no guarantee they’ll make it past the gangs and pimps and bandits to reach the border, or cross undetected by the Border Patrol, or find a place in the United States if they make it inland. But the prize is worth the struggle. So, to them, America is an exceptional place.

Many cynical, native-born Americans may see the country differently after a half decade of a stifled economy and high unemployment; after more than a decade of military action in an unstable, unthankful region; during a period of rising prices and stagnant income; and facing endless partisan stalemate in Washington.

These immigrants’ acts are against the laws of this land and they should be dealt with accordingly. But like millions of immigrants before them, both legal and illegal, they are motivated by the belief that a better life awaits them here.

Would that all Americans recognize this simple truth this Fourth of July.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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