About John F. Kennedy’s A Nation of Immigrants

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At a time when the issue of immigration and immigrants has taken center stage in this country, the message of President John F. Kennedy’s classic essay A Nation of Immigrants is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.  That is why the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and publisher Harper Perennial have reissued this landmark essay on the contribution of immigrants to American society.

With a new introduction by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, A Nation of Immigrants (Harper Perennial) offers inspiring suggestions for immigration policy and presents a chronology of the main events in the history of immigration in America.

Written by Kennedy in 1958 after ADL reached out to the then-junior senator from Massachusetts asking him to highlight the contribution of immigrants at a time when the country was locked in a debate about the direction its policy should take, it is the last manuscript President Kennedy ever wrote, and the book was first published posthumously.

Throughout his presidency, John F. Kennedy was passionate about the issue of immigration reform. He believed that America is a nation of people who value both tradition and the exploration of new frontiers, people who deserve the freedom to build better lives for themselves in their adopted homeland. This modern edition of his posthumously published, timeless work -- with a new introduction by Senator Edward M. Kennedy and a foreword by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director -- offers the late president’s inspiring suggestions for immigration policy and presents a chronology of the main events in the history of immigration in America.

As continued debates on immigration engulf the nation, this paean to the importance of immigrants to our nation's prominence and success is as timely as ever.

Kennedy’s words
from A Nation of Immigrants
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© 2008 Anti-Defamation League