Rep. Joe Kennedy shares his family’s story in fierce message to immigrants: ‘We know what you’ve risked’

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 08:  House Energy and Commerce Committee member Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-MA) delivers opening remarks during a markup hearing on the proposed American Health Care Act, the Republican attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill March 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. House Republicans were rushing the legislation through the powerful Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means committees, aiming for a full House vote next week.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Rep. Joe Kennedy III. –Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Rep. Joe Kennedy III took to the House floor Thursday with a fierce message of solidarity for immigrants across the country by sharing the story of a family that started a new life in America: his own.

Before revealing the name of the family whose experience he was describing, the Massachusetts Democrat spoke of the struggle to scrape by, dreams “of a better life in America,” and a “dangerous journey” to the shores of the United States.

“Yet once here, they discovered that life wasn’t so easy,” Kennedy said. “They were resented for their accents, their faith, and their foreign ways. Doors were slammed in their faces when they sought work. So they worked harder. They leaned on each other and those who came before.”


Kennedy related how years later his great grandmother showed his father old newspaper wanted ads marked by the words, “No Irish need apply.”


“My [great] grandmother’s message was clear: ‘Don’t forget where you came from. Don’t forget the blood and the sweat and the tears that generations before you have shed, so that you would never feel the sting of prejudice,’” Kennedy said. “For my family, and so many others, this became a deeply personal fight.”

Referencing the push by his grandfather, the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, for immigration reform more than 50 years ago, the 36-year-old blasted President Donald Trump’s “scapegoating of immigrant families.”

Describing himself as, “the proud son of Irish immigrants and the humble beneficiary of our country’s golden doors” the day before St. Patrick’s Day, Kennedy said he and other leaders in the nation’s capital stand in opposition to the Trump administration’s immigration policies.

“We understand your willingness to walk to the ends of the earth to navigate oceans and mountains and deserts and war zones because every parent would do the same,” he said. “We know what you’ve risked to give them a better future, what you’ve sacrificed to be part of our United States.”