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Presidential Thoughts on Immigration

On Monday, the federal government will be closed in honor of President’s Day – a holiday originally commemorating George Washington’s birthday. It is an apt time to remember that American presidents throughout our history debated the merits of immigration.

At our country’s inception, our forefathers recognized the United States as a nation of immigrants, even while placing importance on creating a new American identity. During Manifest Destiny and the Industrial Revolution waves of immigrants left Europe and Asia to seek prosperity and a new life in the United States, and politicians of the time debated the merits of immigration vigorously. Today, the immigration debate takes place in an increasingly interconnected and global society.

At FordMurray, we believe immigration is part of the bedrock our country was built upon. Immigration enhances the US economy and strengthens communities, and we are proud to support businesses as they look to recruit and retain international workers, and highly skilled, motivated people as they hope to become integral pieces in the fabric of America.

In honor of President’s Day, we gathered quotes from American Presidents spanning the history of our country, from our forefathers to today.

George Washington

Portrait of George Washington

“The bosom of America is open to receive not only the Opulent and respected Stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all Nations and Religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges…”

“I had always hoped that this land might become a safe and agreeable asylum to the virtuous and persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong.”

Thomas Jefferson

“Born in other countries, yet believing you could be happy in this, our laws acknowledge, as they should do, your right to join us in society, conforming, as I doubt not you will do, to our established rules. That these rules shall be as equal as prudential considerations will admit, will certainly be the aim of our legislatures, general and particular.”

James Madison

America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.

Woodrow Wilson

“We came to America, either ourselves or in the persons of our ancestors, to better the ideals of men, to make them see finer things than they had seen before, to get rid of the things that divide and to make sure of the things that unite.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”

 John F. Kennedy

John F Kennedy Portrait

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

“Immigration policy should be generous; it should be fair; it should be flexible. With such a policy we can turn to the world, and to our own past, with clean hands and a clear conscience.”

Lyndon B. Johnson

“The land flourished because it was fed from so many sources–because it was nourished by so many cultures and traditions and peoples.” 

Ronald Reagan

“I received a letter just before I left office from a man. I don’t know why he chose to write it, but I’m glad he did. He wrote that you can go to live in France, but you can’t become a Frenchman. You can go to live in Germany or Italy, but you can’t become a German, an Italian. He went through Turkey, Greece, Japan and other countries. But he said anyone, from any corner of the world, can come to live in the United States and become an American.”

George H W Bush

Nearly all Americans have ancestors who braved the oceans-liberty-loving risk takers in search of an ideal-the largest voluntary migrations in recorded history. Across the Pacific, across the Atlantic, they came from every point on the compass-many passing beneath the Statue of Liberty-with fear and vision, with sorrow and adventure, fleeing tyranny or terror, seeking haven, and all seeking hope…Immigration is not just a link to America’s past; it’s also a bridge to America’s future.

Bill Clinton

“More than any other nation on Earth, America has constantly drawn strength and spirit from wave after wave of immigrants. In each generation, they have proved to be the most restless, the most adventurous, the most innovative, the most industrious of people. Bearing different memories, honoring different heritages, they have strengthened our economy, enriched our culture, renewed our promise of freedom and opportunity for all….”

George W. Bush

George W. Bush Portrait

“It says something about our country that people around the world are willing to leave their homes and leave their families and risk everything to come to America. Their talent and hard work and love of freedom have helped make America the leader of the world. And our generation will ensure that America remains a beacon of liberty and the most hope fill society this world has ever known.”

 Barack Obama

My fellow Americans, we are and always will be a nation of immigrants. We were strangers once, too.