Immigration: Embracing Diversity as Strength

Nation of Immigrants

Immigration: Embracing Diversity as Strength

A Nation of Immigrants
by President John F. Kennedy

60th Anniversary Edition

Immigrants and refugees of yesterday left a legacy of diversity, ingenuity and perseverance, and newcomers of today carry forth this tradition for a bold 21st Century America. Kennedy’s words are as relevant now as they were in 1958.

“Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened the fabric of American life.”

So wrote Kennedy in his timeless essay, A Nation of Immigrants, published by Harper Perennial in this updated edition at a time when the U. S. veers from its historic role as a beacon for those seeking opportunity and refuge.

The foundation of this country was built by strivers, dreamers and thinkers in the name of progress. Kennedy sought to improve the policies of his time by pushing for the elimination of the national origins quota system which was achieved with the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965.

Today we must honor those American values and reject a return to immigration policies which violate the very essence of our nation’s commitment to inclusion and acceptance.

We were strangers once too.

We cannot stand by silently, but must take inspiration from A Nation of Immigrants to speak out loudly to ensure fair,  humane and compassionate approaches to immigrants and refugees.

In the introduction and foreword, Congressman Joe Kennedy III, grand-nephew of President Kennedy, and Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director, each share stories of their own families’ struggles and remind us of the ties that bind us all together.

Nation of Immigrants

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Purchase A Nation of Immigrants

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ADL Education Resources

For educators, students and members of school and university communities.

Suggested discussion points after reading the book:

Topics based on book excerpts:


President Kennedy’s remarks at ADL’s 50th anniversary dinner

Read about ADL’s critical civil rights work

Trump v. Hawaii, 2018
ADL has filed amicus briefs with courts around the country to protect immigrants, including opposing the “Muslim Travel Ban” at the U.S. Supreme Court in Trump v. Hawaii, 2018.

Additional ADL education resources on immigration

Get involved with ADL

ADL Press Release, Oct 16, 2018


National Refugee Shabbat, Oct 19-20, 2018. Multiple locations.
This is a HIAS project of which ADL is a co-sponsor and encourages discussion of the Jewish journey for freedom, based on that week’s parsha, and today’s global refugee crisis.
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Concert Against Hate, Nov 8, 2018. Washington, D.C.
The Concert Against Hate will honor leaders standing for fair treatment of immigrants and refugees.
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Never Is Now, Dec 3, 2018. New York City.
This is the leading conference in the world that focuses squarely on understanding the contemporary drivers and dynamics of anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry. Among the many topics to be covered by the speakers and panels will be a session focused on immigration: “We Were Strangers Too: Institutional Xenophobia Redux.”
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ADL Video: Historic Text, Message for Today