A New York State Senator has told a gathering of top Irish American young leaders to embrace newly-arrived immigrants and "give them the resources to succeed."
Addressing the eleventh annual Irish 40 Under 40 in New York on Friday evening, Senator Brian Kavanagh urged Irish Americans to "welcome immigrants with open arms."
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"We should celebrate their contributions, their values and their culture and we should give them the resources they need to succeed because what happened to in the 1800s and early 1900s to Irish American immigrants is happening today to Muslim Americans, Mexican Americans and to other immigrant communities."
The recently-elected State Senator, whose father hails from Co Donegal and whose mother is the daughter of first-generation Donegal immigrants, said Irish Americans had "a special role" in making sure their "adopted country lives up to its highest ideals."
Go raibh maith agat. Big thnx to Senator Brian Kavanagh of New York for addressing the Irish 40 Under 40 in New York last night. Son of Donegal immigrants. Represents all of Chinatown, NYC. Relentlessly committed to social justice in US & Ireland. @BrianKavanaghNY pic.twitter.com/R6wtx7Lr1H— Máirtín Ó Muilleoir (@newbelfast) February 24, 2018
"My father came to the United States from Donegal at the age of 20 with almost no education and before he was even a citizen he joined the US Army. Then he joined the New York City Transit Police and was, at the time, the youngest police officer to become a captain. Perhaps he would have merited a 40 Under 40 award!"
Senator Kavanagh, who represents all of Chinatown and much of the the east side of lower Manhattan, added: "My parents taught my five siblings and me values that you will recognize: perseverance, compassion, determination, service and community. That is what the Irish community brings to America."
Among honorees attending the 40 Under 40 celebration, hosted by the Irish Echo, were Co Galway-born Bernie Mooney of Macquarie bank in Houston, Broadway Assistant Director Des Kennedy, a native of Belfast, Bostonia business innovator Laura Hamilton and trad musician with Na Girsa Maeve Flanagan.