A Nation of Immigrants

We were the nation of immigrants then..

We were a nation of immigrants then ...

And we still are.

 

At a time when the issues of refugees and immigration have taken center stage in this country, the message of President John F. Kennedy’s classic essay A Nation of Immigrants is as relevant today as it was when it was published 59 years ago.

 

 

With more than 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, today the world faces the worst refugee crisis since World War II. Recent executive orders seek to suspend refugee resettlement and temporarily bar travel for people from six majority Muslim countries. Anti-immigrant and anti-refugee policies and rhetoric have both reached a fever pitch.

It is in that context—on the occasion of President John F. Kennedy’s centennial—that we turn back to A Nation of Immigrants, the remarkable manuscript then-Senator Kennedy penned in 1958. The piece is as relevant today as the day it was published.

Then, as now, bigotry, xenophobia, and nativism polluted the immigration debate. An ugly race-based national origin quota system that heavily favored white immigrants from Northern Europe made it almost impossible for immigrants from Africa, Asia, Latin America and other parts of the world to receive a visa. But JFK had a vision of a better immigration system—one that would welcome people from around the world, reunite families, and honor our values as a nation of immigrants.

We need that same kind of vision today. Recognizing the enumerable and immeasurable contributions that immigrants from all around the world have made to America, we must strive once more for an immigration system that serves as a beacon of hope for people around the world.

Now, what can you do for your country?

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On JFK's 100th birthday, we are reminded not just of who we are, but what we are. We are proud of our everlasting commitment to just and humanitarian treatment for those who seek refuge here.

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Nation of Immigrants Discussion Guide 800 blue

Discussion Guide: A Nation of Immigrants

At a time when the issue of immigration and immigrants has taken center stage in this country, the message of President John F. Kennedy’s classic essay A Nation of Immigrants is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.

View Discussion Guide
Discussion Guide: A Nation of Immigrants
Huddled Mass or Second Class?

Lesson Plan: Huddled Mass or Second Class?

This collection of grades 3-12 lessons helps students understand the integral role played by immigrants in the U.S., deepen their knowledge of the negative impact of anti-immigrant bias and challenge both personal and institutional discrimination.

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Lesson Plan: Huddled Mass or Second Class?
Purchase A Nation of Immigrants here or at your favorite local bookseller.

Purchase A Nation of Immigrants

John F. Kennedy’s classic essay A Nation of Immigrants is available for purchase here or at your favorite local bookseller.

Purchase the Book
Purchase A Nation of Immigrants
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