Keith Ellison represents Minnesota’s Fifth District in Congress. He proudly identifies himself first and foremost as the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. With a little help from Karen Hunter (as he notes in the Acknowledgements), he has now written the memoir cum manifesto My Country ‘Tis of Thee: My Faith, My Family, Our Future. Ellison’s district and the Twin Cities metropolitan area are home to the largest Somali population in the United States. In chapter 4 (“The Color Line in the Twenty-First Century”) Ellison writes:
Whether the new American community is Somali, Hmong, Ecuadorian, Liberian or something else, they all are in desperate need of immigration reform. I see it in my congressional office every day. Of all the case categories we help constituents with, immigration tops everything in terms of raw numbers…People come to me describing how they have been separated from the husbands and wives, and children and parents. They talk about how they have lived in the United States for decades, have had their children here, and still live in fear of deportation. Somalis, who have an expansive concept of family, go through great difficulty to bring their “brother” into the United States, only to learn that in America brother means the child of your mother or father–not a first cousin who lived every moment in your household. Many Somalis are called on to supply paperwork that just doesn’t exist after twenty-two years of war. America needs an immigration system that works for all, that reunites families, and that allows kids who were brought here at an early age to go to college at a reasonable price.