The Celebration of Immigrants

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People from around the world emigrate to the United States in search of a better life for themselves and their families. They contribute to our country’s culture and economy, often filling jobs that others do not want, such as working in agriculture, construction, or service industries. Despite the many challenges they face, most immigrants say that their lives are generally better here than in their countries of origin. This is particularly true for those who are likely undocumented, who are more likely to have serious concerns about their finances and well-being.

When they are able to work, most immigrants report that they earn at least enough money to pay for their basic needs and have good job prospects. They also say that their children’s education and future opportunities are better here than in their home country. However, they also face significant obstacles that can prevent them from fully realizing their dreams for themselves and their children. These include workplace and other forms of discrimination, difficulty making ends meet, and confusion and fears related to U.S. immigration laws and policies. These challenges are more common for some groups, such as those who live in lower-income households, Black and Hispanic immigrants, and those with limited English proficiency.

In the end, though, nearly all immigrants agree that their life in America is a good one. Three in four of those surveyed said they would choose to come to the U.S. again if they had the chance, and six in ten say they plan to stay.

The story of how these individuals and families have achieved their American dream is the focus of this year’s Carnegie Celebration of Immigrants, which highlights the contributions they make to our society and the nation’s economy. This year’s event is a partnership between Carnegie and The New Americans campaign, which partners with local community organizations to help them host naturalization workshops for people who have applied to become naturalized citizens. The campaign has held more than 2,500 workshops and clinics, which have helped more than 154,000 people complete their applications for citizenship.

For more information about the celebration, visit the Carnegie website.

This article was originally published on October 24, 2018, and has been updated for clarity and accuracy. The Carnegie Corporation’s Celebration of Immigrants is generously supported by The Ford Foundation and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. This is the first of a series of articles that will be published leading up to our November 16 ceremony to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the opening of Ellis Island.

Anna stands in front of the slammed door, chuckling. Her daughter Lucy is on the other side, yelling about band practice and her special t-shirt that hasn’t been washed yet.

For a moment, her eyes are clouded with emotion as she looks down at her child. She knows that she will never be able to give her daughter everything she wants. But she rests her purpose in doing whatever she can to give her daughter a chance to fulfill her own dreams and to prove to her that the sacrifices her parents made were not in vain.