I recently asked my 11th graders “What does it mean to be American?” Not one of them mentioned citizenship or papers. The majority of them talked about rights and freedom. One student in particular said something that stood out.
To me, what it means to be an American goes beyond your place of birth or the documents you have. What it means to be an American is less about who you are than what you are about— how you live your life, how you contribute to this country, how you pledge allegiance to a flag hoping and praying it will make room for you.