Press Release

ADL and Harper Perennial Release 60th Anniversary Edition of John F. Kennedy's Classic Essay, "A Nation of Immigrants"

nation of immigrants cover

New York, NY, October 16, 2018 … At a time when the debate over immigration policy is at the forefront of national political discourse, ADL and Harper Perennial have published an updated edition of John F. Kennedy’s landmark book, A Nation of Immigrants, on the 60th anniversary of its publication.

Alarmed by the rising xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment at the time, former longtime ADL leader Ben Epstein reached out to Senator Kennedy, then a junior senator from Massachusetts, with a request for him to produce a manuscript outlining his vision for immigration reform. Published posthumously, A Nation of Immigrants went on to inspire the passage of the Immigration of Nationality Act of 1965.

President Kennedy’s classic essay arguing in favor of a humane immigration policy has perhaps never been more relevant or important. The new edition features an introduction by his grand-nephew, Congressman Joe Kennedy III, and a foreword by Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO and National Director. It includes s appendices with a timeline of major immigration policy developments from 1963 through August 2018 and a suggested, supplemental reading list

“John F. Kennedy believed that America needed to remain true to its origins as a nation of diverse people who came from all corners of the world but were united by the shared desire to create better lives for themselves and their families on new shores,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “In today’s climate of rising xenophobic rhetoric and legislative and executive attempts to turn away refugees and close our borders, President Kennedy’s incisive thoughts on the influence and contributions of immigrants to the United States have never had greater resonance.”

ADL and Harper Perennial have distributed copies of the new edition to members of Congress who focus on immigration legislation, as well as to members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Asian Pacific Islanders Caucus and Jewish congresspersons. 

The book is a timeless work. It powerfully demonstrates why the United States is at its best when it remains a safe haven for refugees. A Nation of Immigrants long ago entered the lexicon of great American political essays. Its inspirational observations about the diversity of America’s origins and the influence of immigrants and refugees on the American experience make a compelling case for a sensible and humane immigration policy today – one that provides opportunities and hope for “huddled masses” from around the world.

As Congressman Joe Kennedy III writes in the new introduction: “Today we summon that example. We summon the feelings of fear, loss, desperation and isolation that visit each of us in different ways no matter our privilege or protection. In that shared humanity we find our empathy. We find our strength. We find the proud and dusty pages of our story that prove ours is a country unafraid to open, extend and expand. We find our voices – like the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have risen up in response to the current immigration policies and said: No. Not on my land. Not in my name.”    

About the Author:

JOHN F. KENNEDY (1917-1963) was President of the United States from 1961 to 1963. He was the youngest man ever elected to the Oval Office and the first Roman Catholic president. 

About the Book:

A Nation of Immigrants (Harper Perennial Modern Classics; ISBN: 9780062859693; On-Sale: October 16, 2018), with a new introduction by Congressman Joe Kennedy III and a Foreword by Jonathan A. Greenblatt will be available in bookstores beginning October 16, 2018.