Thank You Senator Lautenberg

The Lautenberg Amendment opened the door for more religious minorities to find a new life in America.

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(Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)
Lautenberg had been plagued by a series of health scares after he was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2010.

As both Democrats and Republicans spew their ire at Governor Chris Christie, R-N.J., over his special election decision, it is incumbent upon this author to take time to recognize and thank Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., who passed away this week, for his service.

That service has been especially meaningful to me, as it was the Lautenberg Amendment that allowed my family and me to emigrate to the United States of America in 1993. The Lautenberg Amendment, passed in 1990, loosened the restriction on refugee states and thereby allowed for tens of thousands of Jews like me from the former USSR to come to America. The legislation was also applied to religious minorities from Iran, Vietnam and Burma, as well as other countries.

[See photos: Remembering Sen. Frank Lautenberg: 1924-2013]

It is absolutely true that as my political views have developed, I have found myself on the opposite side of Lautenberg on an overwhelming number of issues. Nevertheless, feelings of gratitude and respect have always been the first that were evoked whenever I ran across Lautenberg's name.

The 1990s seem like an era long gone, with politicians like Lautenberg proposing common sense legislation and opposite thinkers such as Newt Gingrich and President Bill Clinton working together to balance the budget.

It is a sad commentary on our times that less than 24 hours after Lautenberg's passing the airwaves were filled not with tributes to his career and accomplishments but disputes on whether the special election in New Jersey should be in October or November.

Thank you, Senator Lautenberg, for helping open the door to America for us, and may you rest in peace.

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