Welcome 2017 Citizens of the United States of America
Thursday, I had the inspiring experience of attending a Naturalization Ceremony in my adopted home of Burlington, Vermont. One may assume that because I have endured a great loss at the hands of terrorist infiltrates who took advantage of our resources and open-door policy, that I might hold reservations about immigration laws and side to close our borders out of fear for future safety. However, my feelings could not be farther from such a claim. I feel grateful for all of the valiant human’s who sacrificed for my life of freedom in this country and for the wonderful people whom I have met in my lifetime, who are themselves hardworking immigrants and sons and daughters of American dreamers, movers and shakers.
Beginning in 1849, mine and my husband’s ancestors have braved turbulent seas from ten countries to become part of the American tapestry. They risked their lives as crusaders for religious freedom. They have forged and developed the North-Western frontier, bore children who fought in great American wars, and were entrepreneurs and who built our small towns and cities and died for our great American pastime of baseball.
In 2016, all six American winners of the Nobel prize in science and economics fields were immigrants. Since 2000, forty percent of Nobel prizes were awarded to United States immigrants in chemistry, medicine and physics, according to research from the National Foundation for American Policy. www.forbes.com.
One of America’s most famous architects, Ieoh Ming Pei was born in Canton, China in 1917 and came to the United States at the age of 18 to study architecture. He attended MIT and Boston. In 1942 he became a concrete designer. He worked as an assistant professor at Harvard and in 1960, started his own architectural office, now Pei, Cobb, Free & Partners. Pei’s designs are famous for their geometric patterns and their characteristic use of glass. Among Pei’s many building designs are the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Co., the east wing of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library in Boston and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His accomplishments also include updating the Louvre in Paris.
Our the first female Secretary of State and the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. government, former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, was born in Czechoslovakia in 1937 and moved with her family, to the United States in 1948, fleeing the Communist takeover. She graduated from Wellesley College with honors in Political Science, and received her master’s degree and doctorate from Columbia University’s Department of Public Law and Government. Secretary Albright has served as a staff member on the National Security Council, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies, a professor at Georgetown University, President of the Center for National Policy and, finally, as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations before being confirmed as Secretary of State in 1977.
The world-famous naturalist, John Muir, was born in Dunbar, Scotland in 1838 and moved with his family to Portage, Wisconsin at the age of eleven. He became a creative inventor and studied at the University of Wisconsin. In 1867 he began his travels around America, settling in California where he continued his study of glaciers, and the Sierra. Muir wrote for Century magazine explaining the devastation of open spaces by ranch animals. This exposition led to Congress in 1890 creating Yosemite National Park. He also helped establish Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Petrified Forest and Mount Rainier national parks. Muir founded the Sierra Club to protect these areas, and is today remembered as the Father of Our National Park System.
The son of a Jewish father and Catholic mother, Joseph Pulitzer, set the standards for editorial excellence. Born in Hungary in 1847, he attended private schools in Budapest until age 17. His weak eyesight prevented him from joining the Austrian Army, however, he made his way to America to join the Union Army during the Civil War. Later he was hired by a German language paper in St. Louis and by the age of 25 he was a publisher and eventually owner of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Pulitzer’s paper gained favor among the public for exposing corruption and tax dodgers. His purchase of The New York World, and his brilliance in marketing, including raising public subscriptions for building a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty so it could be shipped from France, made him the publisher of the best-selling newspaper in the country. Pulitzer died in 1911, leaving as his greatest legacy an annual series of journalistic awards, the Pulitzer Prizes.
Felix Frankfurter was born in Vienna, Austria in 1882 and moved with his family to the United States in 1894. He attended the College of the City of New York, and Harvard University. He was appointed as assistant U.S. attorney in New York City in 1906 and moved to the War Department in 1910. In 1914 he became a leading constitutional scholar as a teacher at Harvard Law School. He advised President Roosevelt on the selection of members to lead agencies established during the New Deal. Frankfurter also participated in drawing up the Securities Act (1933), the Securities Exchange Act (1934) and the Public Utility Holding Company Act (1935). In 1935, Frankfurter was nominated by Roosevelt as an associate justice of the Supreme Court, until his retirement in 1962.
Hakeem Olajuwon, born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1963, is considered by some to be the most famous continental African to have played in any sport in the entire American continent. At age 15, Olajuwon was 6’9″ and soon became the center for the Nigerian national team. From 1981-84 he attended the University of Houston, where he led his team to three consecutive NCAA Final Four appearances. In 1984, the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA) drafted Olajuwon, and he developed into one of the dominant big men in the league. Nicknamed, “The Dream,” Olajuwon led the Rockets to the NBA championship in 1994 and 1995, and was voted the league’s most valuable player for the 1993-94 season. During the 1990s, sportswriters and fans considered him, and Shaquille O’Neal, as the NBA’s best centers. Olajuwon retired in 2002 after signing with the Toronto Raptors the previous year. “The Dream” became an American citizen in 1993.
The 1983 Nobel laureate for Physics, Subranhmanyan Chandrasekhar, was born in Lahore, India in 1910. He studied at Madras University in India and at Cambridge University, where he received his doctorate in 1933. While at Cambridge he submitted a paper to The Astrophysical Journal on the upper limit to the mass of white dwarf stars. He joined the University of Chicago in 1937 and spent his career there, publishing a number of books. During the 1940s, Chandrasekhar drove 100 miles from Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin to Chicago for many weeks to teach a class of only two students. Some wondered why he bothered. Ten years later, his entire class won the Nobel Prize in Physics. Chandrasekhar’s 1983 prize was for his studies of the physical processes of importance to the structure and evolution of stars.
Born in Russia in 1888, Irving Berlin’s family moved to New York city when he was four years old. As a young man, he found work as a singing bus boy in the Bowery before publishing his first song in 1911. He went on to write eight hundred more, many of which would become some of the best loved American songs of all time, including “White Christmas,” “Easter Parade” and “God Bless America.” Among his stage productions are; There’s No Business Like Show Business, Top Hat and Annie Get Your Gun.
When David Ho was 12 years old, his father sent for the family to join him in a new land where an unfamiliar language was spoken. Despite being laughed at by classmates who thought he was stupid because he couldn’t speak English, he graduated summa cum laude from Cal Tech, earning a scholarship to Harvard Medical School. As a young physician he saw some of the first known cases of AIDS. His pioneering work with “cocktails” of protease inhibitors and other antiviral drugs has brought about remarkable recoveries, and raised hope that the virus may someday be eliminated. Now Dr. David Ho is Director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center. He was chosen by Time Magazine as its 1996 “Man of the Year” for his discoveries.
Among the unexhaustive list of other immigrant notables are Albert Einstein, Germany (1879-1955), the greatest Physicist of the twentieth century, Mary Harris Jones, Ireland (1837-1937) organized labor representative who fought for the rights of coal miners, steel workers and children until her death at nearly 100., Rita M. Rodriguez, Cuba (1942-) who became one of five directors of Ex-Import Bank, an independent bank whose chief purpose is to improve U.S. trade with other countries an author of numerous books and articles on international finance.
Immigration laws matter, particularly in determining whether the United States gains from increased globalization and rising educational achievement in foreign nations. A greater openness to immigration has helped make the United States the leading global destination for research in many different science and technology fields, including computers and cancer research. Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, a Scottish-born Anerican citizen and winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2016, notes that “his research group at Northwestern University has students and scientists from a dozen countries. His work on molecular machines has helped take chemistry to epoch heights.
Immigrants are not only an integral part of American culture and society but also important contributors to the United States economy. Immigrants work and pay taxes and also create new products, businesses, and technologies that lead to jobs for all Americans.
Immigrants tend to be highly entrepreneurial, creating jobs here in the United States. Research from the Small Business Administration suggests that immigrants are more likely to start a business than are non immigrants. A recent study found that between 1990 and 2005, immigrants started 25 percent of venture backed U.S. public companies, employing more than 200,000 U.S. workers. And some of the companies at the forefront of the digital revolution were co-founded by immigrants: Intel, Sun Microsystems, eBay, Google, and Yahoo to name a few examples.
Immigrants are an important part of our international competitiveness, especially in technology-intensive and service industries. Compared to U.S.-born Americans, immigrants are more likely to hold an advanced degree and are almost twice as likely to hold a Ph.D.
The positive economic effects of immigrants are not just limited to individuals with advanced degrees. Immigrants also play an important role in the economy by filling niches where the domestic supply of workers is limited. In many cases, these immigrants do not compete directly with other domestic workers, but instead complement the work of U.S.-born workers. Immigrant workers also increase the affordability and availability of services such as child care, cleaning services, and gardening. These services in turn increase standards of living and free up time for consumers to devote to alternative economic activity.
Scientific research and economic growth will remain strong in America as long as we don’t enter an era where we turn our backs on immigration. I support legal immigration. I welcome humanitarian refuge and asylum. “One nation, under God, Indivisible, for liberty and justice for all.”
Welcome 2017 citizens of the United States of America.