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America welcomes all types—Buddhist monks, homosexuals, scientists with PhDs, cancer patients, Obama haters, Obama lovers, Muslim imams, Christian missionaries, tech geniuses, movie directors, and a wrestler with his own action figure. The one thing that new citizens seem to agree on is that those who were born in the U.S.A. don't realize how good we have it. Our new fellow countrymen appreciate the freedoms here considerably more than people who have been here for generations— and can help us see all that we take for granted: indoor plumbing, democracy, electricity, religious tolerance, free refills, uncensored Internet access, homeownership, funding for the arts, traffic laws, the option to go into debt, the freedom to have premarital sex, the right to bear arms, select your spouse, wear nail polish, read books, smoke, exercise as much as we like, and have as many children as we want. We can learn a lot from those who became American by choice. Whether they came here via online dating, adoption, political asylum, student and work visas, or by swimming the Rio Grande (and overstaying long enough to CITIZENU.S.A. be granted amnesty), they all came here to live an American dream. Although they have made themselves at home in their new country, our newest citizens still look at America with an outsider's perspective; they hold up a mirror to show us how we look as a nation.
At a time when it appears that this country is beset with problems—unemployment is at an all-time high, America's manufacturing base is eroding, the federal deficit is exploding, the poverty rate is at 17 percent, U.S. students' test scores rank below average in math and science literacy compared to other developed countries— immigrants from every other country on earth still flock here, because no matter how bad it gets here, it's still a heck of a lot better than most other places on earth. In the seven films and two books I have made on the road across America, the one thing that I am still impressed by is how willing people are to welcome us into their homes and let us become a part of their lives. We are grateful to all the new Americans for sharing their stories, and for making this country a more interesting place to live! The best thing about this nation is that we welcome everyone. That diversity makes us great, and if we want to continue to be the greatest country on earth, we have to make sure the welcome mat continues to be out.