Sen. Edward Kennedy died late Tuesday night at his home in Hyannis Port, Mass. USA Today newspaper reports that
Sen. Edward Kennedy’s first major legislative victory helped change the face of the country and shaped his own political career. In 1965, Kennedy had been in the Senate less than three years. His party’s leaders gave him the job of pushing a bill to eliminate the quota system that had made it virtually impossible for anyone from anywhere but western Europe to immigrate to the USA.
After winning that legislative battle, Kennedy “remained the Senate’s most impassioned advocate for widening opportunities for America’s newcomers.”
“He fashioned the modern-day legal system of immigration. He created humane refugee and asylum policies. And he has set the stage for a 21st century solution to the problem of illegal immigration,” said Frank Sharry, an immigrant rights advocate who worked with Kennedy on legislation.
During a 2006 interview with National Public Radio, Kennedy relates how the story of his family helped shape his views on immigration reform.
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,” Kennedy told Senate colleagues in a 2007 speech. “That immigrant spirit of limitless possibility animates America even today.”