Immigration: Stories of Courage and Resilience
Nation of Immigrants
By Mark Tuschman
For more than a century the identity of the United States has been grounded in the notion that we are a “nation of immigrants” and it is precisely our diversity and multiculturalism that makes America unique. People from the world over come here to build a better life, but America, too, benefits from their innumerable contributions to our cultural, scientific, and economic vitality.
The recent barrage of anti-immigrant rhetoric and exclusionary immigration policy proposals are sowing seeds of anxiety and distrust and creating an increasingly polarized America. Gross economic inequalities, fear, and political gridlock have created an atmosphere of deep alienation and resentment that too frequently has been directed towards immigrants.
What can we do to begin healing and create bridges of understanding between people of diverse backgrounds? How can we nurture empathy and compassion to embrace each other with respect and dignity and bring our country to a place of greater optimism?
Photography is a universal language. In my experience powerful portraits accompanied by stories of people’s lives are the best way to connect with those whose experiences are vastly different than our own. One can argue about politics or disregard facts but one cannot argue about a person’s story. Here you will find stories of immigrants whose struggles brought them to America and whose subsequent contributions and successes have enriched our country.
The contributions immigrants make to our society cannot be taken for granted. Without immigrants, we all lose: major medical institutions would cease functioning, the elderly would have little access to home or nursing care, food prices would skyrocket, most restaurants would close their doors, the hi-tech economy would falter, quickly becoming non-competitive, to name just a few of the consequences.
Without exception, each immigrant who participated in this project expressed their desire to contribute to our society, and came to the U.S. because they deeply admire our democratic values.