Today is inauguration day and Martin Luther King, Jr. day, and I had the pleasure of catching up on reading President Kennedy’s “A Nation of Immigrants.” It is a forgotten treasure that I recently discovered on Amazon. The issue of immigration reform is hardly new, and President Kennedy was passionate about it. He had revised and expanded his book before he was assassinated, and it was published posthumously. In July, 1963, shortly before his death, he sent a message to Congress recommending that the national origins quota system be replaced by one which favored skilled immigrants and reuniting families. The quota system heavily favored Northern Europeans, and most of their visa numbers remained unused while nationals of other countries who wished to immigrate stood little chance of obtaining a visa number. The book also showcases President Kennedy’s love of history and the United States. He provides a cultural and historical framework to the story of U.S. immigration, as well as the history of the country’s immigration laws. He also writes about the nativist movements created out of bigotry and fear by people who forgot that they came from immigrant stock, or were immigrants themselves. His arguments against this way of thinking couldn’t be more timely. Just today, President Obama touched on immigration reform at his inaugural address, “Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”
Here is a link to purchase “A Nation of Immigrants” on Amazon.com.