October 16, 2018

KENNEDY PENS ‘NATION OF IMMIGRANTS’ INTRODUCTION

President Kennedy’s 1964 book re-released today by HarpersCollins & the Anti-Defamation League

Newton, MA — Congressman Joe Kennedy III penned the introduction for the re-release today of A Nation of Immigrants by President John F. Kennedy. First released in 1964 and re-released in 2008 with an introduction from Senator Edward M. Kennedy, today’s release marks the third edition of the book.

A copy of the full introduction is available upon request. Key excerpts from Congressman Kennedy’s introduction are pasted below:

“As I write this today, thousands of immigrant children remain separated from their parents on American soil. They showed up at our border terrorized, desperate and afraid. And in an act of unimaginable brutality, our government responded with terror of its own – taking infants and toddlers out of their families’ arms.

“This is the human wreckage of American immigration policy. This is the trauma and torture that dark forces of nativism, supremacy and prejudice have brought to bear in a land that staked its name on brighter, better things: equality, dignity and freedom.

“This is the work that lies ahead, daunting and dangerous, but familiar, as President Kennedy reminds us in the pages that follow. We have been here before. We have spent generations battling those who would make America sharp, and small and scared. We have risen, we have challenged, we have dragged ourselves towards a more perfect union.”

***

“In moments of great reflection, transition and vulnerability, great men saw the American story not through the lens of politics or tribe. They saw it as it surely looked to John Winthrop and every weary traveler that has ever approached American shores – rocky, imperfect and unknown, but expansive, limitless, and defiantly hopeful.

“Since the beginning, immigration has been an affirmation of our success, not a threat to it. People risk everything to reach this land because they believe in our greatness – our fair laws, our good values, our promises and possibilities. We should not worry when the striving and suffering arrive on our shores; we should worry when they stop coming at all.

“Today that legacy -- our legacy-- is being threatened, by the same chorus that met President Kennedy when he had the boldness to tackle the racialized quota system. Their voices sound familiar: Immigrants will flood our cities and towns. They will take our jobs. They will threaten our culture. They aren’t from here. They aren’t like us.

“Fifty years later, those voices still have not updated their talking points. Fifty years later, our broken immigration system is still a source of oppression, of anguish and of loss.”

***

“Today...we summon the feelings of fear, loss, desperation and isolation that visit each of us in different ways no matter our privilege or protection. In that shared humanity we find our empathy. We find our strength. We find the proud and dusty pages of our story that prove ours is a country unafraid to open, extend and expand. We find our voices – like the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have risen up in response to the current immigration policies and said: No. Not on my land. Not in my name.

“They have donated money and time and skills to reunite broken families. They have fostered young children left alone on our shores. They have taken to the streets and the courts, state legislatures and halls of Congress, to demand something better, fairer, kinder and stronger from the government that represents them.

“President Kennedy would be proud. It is the call not just to action but to decency that echoes through these pages. It is the confident, charismatic country he believed in. Most importantly, it is the simple Gospel he knew would bind us to each other through time and space and generations – no matter creed or country, color or class.

“‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’"

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For Immediate Release:
October 16, 2018 

Contact:
Dan Black (202) 225-5931