First-generation American now calls E. Texas home - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

First-generation American now calls E. Texas home

TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

President Barack Obama plans to meet with Republican Senator John McCain to discuss ongoing efforts to pass an overhaul of immigration laws. McCain is one of the key Republicans who drafted broad immigration legislation, which would include a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. There is one East Texan, whose parents are immigrants, who says the positive aspect of immigration is starting to get lost among the negativity. 

"Things have changed dramatically now. Immigration has become a huge hot topic, but we all need to be mindful that this country was built on the back of many, many immigrants who came here and were very, very grateful for what this country gave them, and I'm one of them," said Tyler Attorney Carlo D'Angelo.

D'Angelo is a first-generation American and East Texan.

"My mother and father came over to the United States from Sicily in 1954. They met and married in the United States, but they both left Italy because of the devastation from World War 2," D'Angelo explained. "My grandparents on my mother's side owned a grocery store that was bombed in the war and they had to flee and actually ended up in North Africa in Tunisia. My grandfather was put in an internment camp by the Nazis,"

D'Angelo said these stories will be passed down from generation to generation.

"Seeing the hard work and seeing the fact that my family came here with virtually nothing and was able to rebuild their life, was able to put methrough college and law school and give me and my family and my children theopportunities we have," said D'Angelo. "You've got to have recognition and for where you comefrom and I think those family stories are what we pass on; that's what liveson," 

D'Angelo said he is grateful for the risks his family took to start a new life here. That is why he not only attends naturalization ceremonies, but also performs at them.

"I got a call from JudgeGuthrie and she had asked if I would consider singing at the naturalizationceremonies because she had heard my stories about being a former professionalsinger,"D'Angelo said.

D'Angelo said he has been singing for years. It's a profession that actually helped him make his way through law school. He said when Judge Judith Guthrie asked him to perform at the naturalization ceremonies, she had no idea he was a first-generation American.

"To add that extra element, to have someone who is a productof first-generation Americans to perform and sing those great American songs atthat ceremony was just a beautiful, a  beautiful way to put that wholething together," D'Angelo said.

D'Angelo said publicizing these naturalization ceremonies and showing the positive aspects of immigration is a powerful thing for people to know and see. United States Citizenship Immigration Services reports that Texas has the fourth highest number of citizens being naturalized in the United States.

"It's not just about borders and fences and keeping people out. It's also about recognizing that diversity above all is what makes this country what it is," D'Angelo said.

Copyright 2013 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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