A Nation of Immigrants Sample Essay

At a clip when the issue of in-migration and immigrants has taken centre phase in this state. the message of President John F. Kennedy’s authoritative essay A State of Immigrants is as relevant today as it was 50 old ages ago. That is why the Anti-Defamation League ( ADL ) and publisher Harper Perennial have reissued this landmark essay on the part of immigrants to American society.

With a new debut by Senator Edward M. Kennedy. A State of Immigrants ( Harper Perennial ) offers inspiring suggestions for in-migration policy and presents a chronology of the chief events in the history of in-migration in America.

Written by Kennedy in 1958 after ADL reached out to the then-junior senator from Massachusetts inquiring him to foreground the part of immigrants at a clip when the state was locked in a argument about the way its policy should take. it is the last manuscript President Kennedy of all time wrote. and the book was foremost published posthumously.

Throughout his presidential term. John F. Kennedy was passionate about the issue of in-migration reform. He believed that America is a state of people who value both tradition and the geographic expedition of new frontiers. people who deserve the freedom to construct better lives for themselves in their adoptive fatherland. This modern edition of his posthumously published. dateless work — with a new debut by Senator Edward M. Kennedy and a preface by Abraham H. Foxman. ADL National Director — offers the late president’s animating suggestions for in-migration policy and presents a chronology of the chief events in the history of in-migration in America.

As continued arguments on in-migration engulf the state. this encomium to the importance of immigrants to our nation’s prominence and success is every bit seasonably as of all time. About the Writer
John F. Kennedy ( 1917-1963 ) graduated from Harvard with awards in 1940 and served as a P. T. Boat Commander in the South Pacific during World War II. He was decorated twice by the Navy for the serious hurts he suffered when his boat was rammed in two while assailing a Nipponese destroyer in the Solomons. and for “his bravery. endurance and first-class leadership” in towing injured members of his crew to safety.

A author and correspondent. Kennedy in 1940 wrote Why England Slept. a best-selling analysis of England’s unpreparedness for war. termed by the New York Times “a noteworthy text edition for our times. ”

The boy of Joseph P. Kennedy. former Ambassador to Great Britain. and the grandson of Boston’s erstwhile Mayor and Congressman John F. Fitzgerald. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946 at the age of 29. and re-elected in 1948 and 1950. In 1952 he became the 3rd Democrat of all time elected to the Senate from Massachusetts. having the largest ballot of all time polled by a Senator in the history of the province. He was President of the United States from 1961 to 1963. He was the youngest adult male of all time elected to the Oval Office and the first Roman Catholic President. Introduction by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy

My brother Jack wrote “A Nation of Immigrants” in 1958. and his words pealing true as clearly today as they did half a century ago. No one spoke more articulately about our history and heritage as a state of immigrants or fought harder on behalf of just and rational in-migration Torahs than President Kennedy. One of his last Acts of the Apostless as President was to suggest a major series of in-migration reforms to stop the ugly race-based national beginnings quota system. which had defined our admittances policies in that epoch. As he told Congress in July 1963: “The passage of this statute law will non decide all of our of import jobs in the field of in-migration jurisprudence. It will. nevertheless. supply a sound footing upon which we can construct in developing an in-migration jurisprudence that serves the national involvement and reflects in every item the rules of equality and human self-respect to which our state subscribes. ”

A century and a half ago. all eight of our Irish great-grandparents successfully crossed the Atlantic in the celebrated vass that were known as casket ships because so many people failed to last the backbreaking ocean trip. They arrived in Boston Harbor. came up the “Golden Stairs. ” and passed through the city’s Immigration Hall on their manner to a better life for themselves and their households. From my office in Boston. I can still see those “Golden Stairs. ” and I’m invariably reminded of my immigrant heritage.

As President Kennedy put it. “This was the secret of America: a state of people with the fresh memory of old traditions who dared to research new frontiers. people eager to construct lives for themselves in a broad society that did non curtail their freedom of pick and action. ”

Immigration is in our blood. It’s portion of our founding narrative. In the early 1600’s. brave work forces and adult females sailed in hunt of freedom and a better life. Arriving in Jamestown and Plymouth. they founded a great state. For centuries of all time since. countless other courageous work forces and adult females have made the hard determination to go forth their places and seek better lives in this Promised Land.

In New York seaport. there stands a statue that represents the digesting ideal of what has made this state great. a beacon on a hill. At her pess. on the base on which the Statue of Liberty bases. are inscribed the facile words of the poet Emma Lazarus:

Give me your tired. your hapless.
Your huddled multitudes hankering to be free.
The deplorable garbage of your pullulating shores.
Send these. the homeless. tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the aureate door.



Immigrants today come from all corners of the universe. stand foring every race and credo. They work hard. They pattern their religion. They love their households. And they love this state. We would non be a great state today without them. But whether we remain true to that history and heritage is a major challenge.

There is no inquiry that the in-migration system needs to be reformed to run into the challenges of the twenty-first Century. The pressing issue before us is about the hereafter of America. It is about our pride for our immigrant yesteryear and our pride for our immigrant hereafter. We know the high monetary value of go oning inactivity. Raids and other enforcement actions will intensify. terrorising our communities and concerns. The 12 million undocumented immigrants now in our state will go 1000000s more. Sweatshops will turn. and undermine American workers and their rewards. State and local authoritiess will take affairs into their ain custodies and go through a labyrinth of conflicting Torahs that hurt our state. We will hold the sort of unfastened boundary line that is unacceptable in our station 9-11 universe.

Immigration reform is an chance to be true to our ideals as a state. At the bosom of the issue of in-migration is hope. Hope for a better life for hard-working people and their households. Hope for their kids. Martin Luther King had a dream that kids would be judged entirely by “the content of their character. ” That dream will ne’er decease. I believe that we will shortly win in ordaining the sort of reform that our ideals and national security demand.

As we continue the conflict. we will hold ample inspiration in the lives of the immigrants all around us. From Jamestown to the Pilgrims to the Irish to today’s workers. people have come to this state in hunt of chance. They have sought nil more than the opportunity to work hard and convey a better life to themselves and their households. They come to our state with their Black Marias and heads full of hope. I believe we can construct the sort of tough. just and practical reform that is worthy of our shared history as immigrants and as Americans.

With these challenges in head. I commend this volume. Written five decennaries ago. its powerful vision still guides us. Foreword by Abraham H. Foxman

The reissuing of “A State of Immigrants” on its fiftieth day of remembrance is non merely commemorating but has great relevancy for us today. The history of this monograph is profoundly intertwined with the narrative of America’s battle for a just and compassionate in-migration policy. When the Anti-Defamation League ( ADL ) reached out to the junior senator from Massachusetts in 1957 to foreground the part of immigrants. the state was locked in a argument about the way its policy should take.

Then. as now. nativism. dogmatism and fright of competition from foreign labour were dulling the corporate American memory of its ain immigrant history and its ideals.

Then. as now. hatred groups were crushing the membranophones of anti-foreigner mottos and tried to rock the populace and elected functionaries toward a restrictive in-migration policy.

The Jewish community had its ain alone immigrant experience – excessively often caught between America’s welcoming tradition and home-grown nativist motions and Jew-baiters.

Many Hebrews like myself. fortunate to get on these shores. were treated with intuition. A 1939 Roper canvass found that merely 39 % of respondents felt American Jews should be treated like all other people – 10 % even believed Hebrews should be deported.

Groups like the Ku Klux Klan exploited anti-foreigner frights and dogmatism. They attracted record rank in the 1920s and 1930s as fascism and antisemitism rose in Europe and Jews sought a oasis from Nazi persecution. The door of in-migration — unfastened to Jews flying pogroms in the late 1800s — was mostly closed by policies like the National Origins Act that set a cap on in-migration and established a prejudiced national-racial quota. That defeated 1000s who sought safety in America and cost the lives of many more who perished in the Holocaust.

Their sense of desperation is etched in our memory in the chilling image of the 900 Jews aboard the SS St. Louis drifting off the Florida seashore in May 1939. the visible radiations of Miami obviously seeable on the skyline. who pleaded for safety in the United States. It was a persistent minute in our history when America’s fright led policymakers to bewray one of our country’s most precious traditions – supplying safe oasis for the persecuted.

In 1963. when President Kennedy prepared his supplication to Congress for an inspection and repair of U. S. in-migration policy and the prejudiced national beginning quota system. he decided to update and reprint this book to reemphasize the cardinal ideal of welcoming immigrants to America. That new edition was in the plants when he was assassinated. The monograph was so posthumously published in 1964. with an debut by his brother. Robert F. Kennedy. Attorney General Kennedy called the book “a arm of enlightenment” to be used “to extinguish the favoritism and inhuman treatment of our in-migration Torahs. ”

The forsaking of the riders of the SS St. Louis is non ancient history. Today. the same fright and canards that hardened the Black Marias of America’s people and leading are being used to foment fright of an “invasion” of illegal immigrants.

President Kennedy’s vision and call to scruples in 1957 is even more rousing and relevant today. The argument over in-migration reform ruling the headlines. columns and conversations in the schoolroom. the board room and the dinner table across America is following an all excessively familiar form. Our state finds itself at a intersection which provides an of import chance for national contemplation and self examination – if we choose to prehend that chance alternatively of giving in to those who go down the unsafe way of aiming immigrants and assaulting the rule of diverseness and pluralism on which the state is founded.

Many Americans are moved by the activism of immigrants processing proudly under the streamer “we are America. ” and welcome their desire to fall in our communities and to lend to this state. They reflect the diverseness that makes America alone. But others are swayed by fright and the hate-mongering that is going mainstreamed in the media and on the Internet and sometimes engendering force in the street.

ADL has issued a series of studies exposing radical forces in our society today utilizing the in-migration argument to progress their docket of hatred. dogmatism. and white domination.

While racial high quality is no longer the idiom of our clip. today hate groups inveigh against colored in-migration and urge Americans. to “fight back” against the sensed ”invasion” of the “white” United States by Hispanics from Mexico.

We know from our ain experience that when a society begins to demonise a group as less deserving of rights. less worthy. less human. less equal. so favoritism. development and worse. can follow.

The communities impacted by in-migration policy alteration from coevals to coevals. The households seeking to be united come from different states and continents. the trusters seeking spiritual refuge pattern different religions. persecution victims are targeted by different governments. But they all come here united by a desire to bask the autonomies and chances our state was founded upon.

Unlike in the yesteryear. in-migration today is non a affair of Judaic ego involvement per Se. But it is a affair of rule that cuts to the nucleus of our values as Jews and as Americans giving to continuing America’s establishing mission as a oasis for the persecuted.

As a subsister of the Holocaust. I came to America with my parents from a displaced individuals camp in Austria. I know what it means to be an immigrant. and as a Jew I know what it means to be the mark of hatred. Our tradition compels us to “remember that we were one time aliens in a unusual land. ” This has motivated Hebrews throughout the ages to be at the head of making out to other vulnerable communities and to recommend beyond the peculiar involvements of our ain community. That rule is what unifies good people in America. regardless of national beginning.

Today we engage this argument. non merely as a Judaic organisation or a civil rights organisation with a record of about a century of protagonism for just and humanist in-migration policy. The Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish community are aware of the menace posed by twenty-first century terrorist act and the responsibility of authorities to implement boundary lines and protect its citizens. This has put in crisp focal point the demand to reform our in-migration jurisprudence with an appropriate balance of equity. compassion. and security. That is why we have championed comprehensive in-migration reform attempts that marry enhanced border security. and the humane intervention of immigrants and their households.

We are heartened that as the 3rd edition of this book is issued. a bipartizan group of lawgivers and The President have called on America to encompass diverseness are pressing Congress and the people to back up needed reform our broken in-migration system.

We are proud to fall in with another distinguished Senator Kennedy. Ted Kennedy. a loyalist in pressing Congress non to abandon these rules. He has been a voice of ground and passion – a centre of gravitation in a disruptive and polarising argument that cuts to the nucleus of the cardinal ideals and hereafter of this state.

On the fiftieth day of remembrance of a “Nation of Immigrants. ” we rededicate ourselves to the rule that is as pressing and seasonably today as when written. The tenor and result of our national argument over in-migration reform and the destiny of undocumented individuals in the U. S. will talk volumes about our national character and ideals. We hope good people will utilize this chance to travel beyond simply the end of “tolerance” and desire for an orderly in-migration system. We hope Americans and their lawgivers will mind the call of President Bush who has spoken articulately about the welcoming spirit that has defined America and urged Americans to encompass and non to fear diverseness. Heeding the supplication of the Kennedy brothers. Americans should come together to proudly encompass our immigrant yesteryear and our immigrant hereafter: “our attitude toward in-migration reflects our religion in the American ideal. We have ever believed it possible for work forces and adult females who start at the underside to lift every bit far as their endowment and energy allow. Neither race nor creed nor topographic point of birth should impact their opportunities. ”

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director
Anti-Defamation League overview
After pupils read A State of Immigrants ( Harper Perennial. 2008 ) by President John F. Kennedy. prosecute them in fostering their apprehension of immigrant communities and in-migration issues in the U. S. – historically and in modern-day times – by utilizing some of the suggested subjects and inquiries below.


“We Are America”
In the Foreword to the new edition. ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman describes recent immigrant rights marchers transporting streamers that read “We are America” ( page thirteen ) . How does the make-up of today’s “we” in that slogan comparison and/or contrast with the country’s demographics before the transition of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965?

Tocqueville’s America
Kennedy opens the first chapter by depicting the observations of a 19th century Gallic political mind and historian. Alexis de Tocqueville. who wrote in his celebrated work Democracy in America ( 1835 ) that America was a topographic point “that did non curtail ( Americans’ ) freedom of pick and action” ( page 2 ) . How much freedom of pick and action did immigrants of that clip really see in America? Did their state of beginning or race play a function in the grade of freedom they had? Explain your response.

Americans are Immigrants
Kennedy argues that “every American who of all time lived. with the exclusion of one group. was either an immigrant himself or a descendent of immigrants” ( page 2 ) and that the exclusion – Native Americans – were considered by some to be immigrants themselves. Would you see Native Americans immigrants? Do you believe the label “immigrants” is an appropriate term for African Americans. who Kennedy acknowledges were “bought and sold and had no choice” in immigrating to this state ( page 7 ) ? How would you specify an “immigrant” ? How do we understand the term “immigrant” today. and does it fit with who Kennedy considered immigrants?

Reasons for Immigrating
In Chapter 2. Kennedy lineations three chief grounds why in-migration to the U. S. took topographic point: freedom from spiritual persecution. political subjugation and economic adversity. To what extent do you believe these still apply today?

Xenophobia and Nativism Today
Kennedy writes “But emotions of xenophobia – hatred of aliens – and of nativism – the policy of maintaining America ‘pure’ … continue to thrive” ( page 38 ) . How does he back up this claim? Who does he place as marks of such xenophobia and nativism? In what ways do these emotions still act upon today’s public sentiment about in-migration and immigrant communities?

Coded Language of Xenophobia and Nativism
In the Foreword. Foxman reports that while the in-migration argument has included valid and sincere statements on both sides of the issue. it has besides been framed at times by acerb anti-immigrant – and peculiarly anti-Latino – rhetoric and propaganda. non merely from radical groups like the Ku Klux Klan but besides anti-immigrant groups that have positioned themselves as legitimate. mainstream advocates against illegal in-migration. While the former do non conceal their hatred. the latter groups use coded linguistic communication to supply the veneer of reputability yet aim to demonise immigrants: “However. under the pretense of warning people about the impact of illegal in-migration. these anti-immigrant groups frequently invoke the same dehumanizing racialist stereotypes as hatred groups” ( page fourteen ) .

Kennedy besides notes the usage of such coded words in the late 1800s to except and take down. such as the specific usage of the word “American” to except Chinese immigrants. and “foreigners” and “savage hordes” to transfuse fright of immigrants “taking over” the state. Research what these coded words and phrases are. and how anti-immigrant protagonism groups. the media and politicians in the 19th. 20th and twenty-first century utilize them to except. corrupt and do immigrants ( whether legal or illegal ) . and those who are perceived as immigrants. seem sub-human. To what extent. if any. has this linguistic communication changed throughout the centuries?

Addendum to “Give me your tired…”
In contrast to the ideals set Forth in Emma Lazarus’ words on the Statue of Liberty. Kennedy paints a different image of the U. S. by adding to her quotation mark. “as long as they come from Northern Europe. are non excessively tired or excessively hapless or somewhat ill. ne’er stole a loaf of staff of life. ne’er joined any questionable organisation. and can document their activities for the past two years” ( page 45 ) . Why do you believe Kennedy felt it was of import to add to Lazarus’ cite? What would your supplement be. given the contemporary attitudes often expressed about the immigrant community?

Interpreting Photographs
Write a brief analysis of one of the exposure in the subdivision of in-migration exposure. utilizing some or all of the undermentioned inquiries: * What does the exposure Tell you about the immigrant ( s ) ?
* What make you detect the immigrants transporting?
* What are some of the things you think they might hold brought with them in their battalions and baskets? * Why do you believe these things might be of import to them? * What can you surmise about the people in the exposure from their visual aspect? * What. if anything. can you state about their economic state of affairs based on the vesture they are have oning? Interpreting Video


Watch the picture of Kennedy’s address to the ADL in 1963 and reply the undermentioned inquiries: * President Kennedy references that “America was to be the great experiment. ” What do you believe he intend by this? * In your ain sentiment. do you believe “the great experiment” was successful or non? Fallacy of Melting Pot

In Chapter 5. Kennedy uses the phrase “melting pot” to depict how immigrants from a assortment of cultural backgrounds can intermix into a “single nationality” as Americans. However. he is speedy to portion the confining nature of this phrase: “We have come to recognize in modern times that the ‘melting pot’ need non intend the terminal of peculiar cultural individualities or traditions” ( page 35 ) . Discuss in your ain words whether you agree with Kennedy’s statement of the limited usage of “melting pot. ” What other words or phrases may work better to depict this state of affairs. e. g. . tapestry?

Civil Rights Movement
In Chapter 5. Kennedy argues that the procedure of incorporating Americans under one nationality failed in the instance of African Americans. He portions. “Today. we are tardily. but resolutely. engaged in stoping this status of national exclusion and shame and get rid ofing everlastingly the construct of second-class citizenship in the United States” ( page 35 ) . What is he mentioning to? Make you believe African Americans were ( and go on to be ) shortchanged in this attempt? Who else is losing from attempts to be brought into the “full watercourse of American life” ?

Unequal Laws
In Chapter 6. Kennedy discusses several Torahs and Acts of the Apostless that have posed prejudiced restrictions on in-migration. viz. and pointedly against Asiatic in-migration. How does Kennedy explicate the racialist nature of these Torahs? See the undermentioned Acts of the Apostless. tribunal instances and plans. and research how they have upheld racial favoritism. whether deliberately and/or as a consequence of historical racism. * 1790 and 1795 Naturalization Act

* 1857 Supreme Court Case: Dred Scott v. Sanford
* 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act
* 1923 Supreme Court Case: United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind
* 1924 Immigration Act
* 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act ( McCarren Walter Act )
* 1954 Operation Wetback
Map of Immigrant Communities
Following Appendix A ( pages 52 and 53 ) . there is a pictural representation of the cultural bulks in each of the 50 provinces in the early sixtiess. entitled “A State of Immigrants. ” Update the representation to reflect current demographics. utilizing Census informations.






Behind the Scenes
In the Foreword. Foxman portions that Kennedy. who was a junior Senator of Massachusetts. accepted ADL’s petition to compose this essay. and A State of Immigrants was published in 1958. After being elected President in 1960. Kennedy used this essay as a design to recommend for a fairer in-migration jurisprudence that was non based on race or ethnicity. How does he form the essay? Why does he get down with the parts of immigrants? How does he stop the essay? Do you believe this essay successfully argues against racial quotas and the demand to reform the 1952 Immigration and Nationality Act?

Civil Rights Movement
During the clip of this book. the Civil Rights Movement was disputing the racialist Torahs and patterns in this state. How did the Civil Rights Movement impact and influence the in-migration argument?

Impact of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act
In testimonial to the decease of President Kennedy in 1963. Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act Amendments of 1965. signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This act removed racial quotas built-in in old in-migration Torahs. therefore leveling the in-migration playing field. During his comments at the sign language of the in-migration measure. Johnson echoed what several other advocates of the jurisprudence argued that though reparative. “this measure that we will subscribe today is non a radical measure. It does non impact the lives of 1000000s. ” From your position. make you hold that it was non a radical act? Why or why non?

Ocular Representation of Today’s Immigrants
The subdivision of exposure in A State of Immigrants highlights the experiences and individualities of immigrants to the U. S. up until the mid-1960s. What exposure would you add to convey the aggregation up to the current twenty-four hours? Using the Internet or other print resources. research and place exposures of recent immigrants that accurately reflect current forms of in-migration or responses of people in the U. S. to in-migration policy. Write a brief paragraph to function as a caption for your choice ( s ) .

A State of Immigrants: A Guide for Today?
In the Introduction. Massachusetts Senator and brother of John F. Kennedy. Edward M. Kennedy espouses the relevancy of this book. “Written five decennaries ago. its powerful vision still guides us” ( eleven ) . In what ways did this book increase your apprehension of the immigrant community and in-migration issues? If you were invited to lend an Afterword in the book. what would you add to assist other readers understand this subject?

Extra Resources for Students

Blohm. Judith M. and Terri Lapinsky. 2006. Childs Like Me: Voices of Immigrant Experiences. Intercultural Imperativeness: Boston. In add-on to over two twelve narratives from teens. this book includes piquant and age-appropriate activities and resources. A bibliography of books and Web sites are besides included.

Documenting Narratives of Immigration in Your Community: A Manual for Teachers and Students ( 2008 ) Inspired by a pupil undertaking which resulted in the book Forty-Cent Tip: Narratives of New York City Immigrant Workers ( published by Following Generation Press ) . this how-to manual provides instructors and pupils with waies on how to implement this schoolroom undertaking of documenting narratives of in-migration in their ain community. It includes instructions on how to acquire permission from your interview topic. interview inquiries. try composing and photography tips. Download the manual.

Gita Saedi. Gordon Quinn and Steve James. 2003. The New Americans. Kartemquin Educational Films. Inc. This seven-hour three-part series follows these fledglings from each of their fatherlands through their first disruptive old ages in America to prosecute the “American Dream. ” The series includes narratives of immigrant kids. For telling information and extra resources and support stuffs. travel to PBS’s Independent Lens. For extracts of this series and a comrade usher. travel to Active Voice’s Web site.

NPR. The Immigration Debate.
This site provides a assortment of intelligence studies about the immigrant community and the U. S. in-migration argument. It includes a narrative about the impact of the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act signed by President Johnson

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