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  • No other nation cherishes this illusion. An Englishman knows that a Russian Jew cannot in five years, or in twenty-five years, become English; that his standards and ideals are not convertible into English standards and ideals. A Frenchman does not see in a Bulgarian or a Czech the making of another Frenchman.

  • We were part of the first wave of Cubans in Miami. When my mother first went to look for an apartment, it was a case of 'No children, no pets, no Cubans.'

  • ... Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

    • Emma Lazarus,
    • "The New Colossus," inscription for the Statue of Liberty (1883), The Poems of Emma Lazarus, vol. 1 ()
  • I should like the words 'alien' and 'foreigner' to be banished from the language.

    • Charlotte Despard,
    • speech (1917), in Andro Linklater, An Unhusbanded Life: Charlotte Despard ()
  • As one of the dumb, voiceless ones I speak. One of the millions of immigrants beating, beating out their hearts at your gates for a breath of understanding.

  • I'm one of the millions of immigrant children, children of loneliness, wandering between worlds that are at once too old and too new to live in.

  • Without comprehension, the immigrant would forever remain shut out — a stranger in America. Until America can release the hearts as well as train the hand of the immigrant, he would forever remain driven back upon himself, corroded by the very richness of the unused gifts within his soul.

  • Woe is me! Bitter is me! For what is my life? Why didn't the ship go under and drown me before I came to America?

  • I have a very hyper-sensitive sister, and when she saw in the papers the next day that I had proclaimed myself the daughter of an immigrant, she didn't like it at all, and was with difficulty deterred from writing to the press that my father might be an immigrant, but not hers.

  • A refugee is not just someone lacking in money and everything else. A refugee is vulnerable to the slightest touch: he has lost his country, his friends, his earthly belongings. He is a stranger, sick at heart. He is suspicious; he feels misunderstood. If people smile, he thinks they ridicule him; if they look serious, he thinks they don't like him. He is a full-grown tree in the dangerous process of being transplanted, with the chance of possibly not being able to take root in the new soil.

    • Maria Trapp,
    • with Ruth T. Murdoch, A Family on Wheels ()
  • A stranger always has / his homeland in his arms / like an orphan / for which he may be seeking / nothing but a grave.

  • People think [immigration] is only about the dollar, but it's so much more complex. This is a place where you can reinvent yourself. I don't know that you can do that anywhere else.

  • The search for a name or label represents the complex and dynamic process by which immigrant groups stake out cultural and political ground.

  • But, Christ, there's a difference between exotic and foreign, isn't there? Exotic means you know how to use your foreignness, or you make yourself a little foreign in order to appear exotic. Real foreign is a little scary, believe me.

    • Bharati Mukherjee,
    • "Fighting for the Rebound," The Middleman and Other Stories ()
  • The U.S.-Mexican border es un herida abierta where the Third World grates against the first and bleeds. And before a scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worlds merging to form a third country — a border culture.

  • A characteristic thing about the aspiring immigrant is the fact that he is not content to progress alone. Solitary success is imperfect success in his eyes. He must take his family with him as he rises.

  • So at last I was going to America! Really, really going, at last! The boundaries burst. The arch of heaven soared. A million suns shone out for every star. The winds rushed in from outer space, roaring in my ears, 'America! America!'

  • What we get in steerage is not the refuse, but the sinew and bone of all the nations.

  • Occasionally the rumor went about that the United States immigration authorities had set up headquarters in the San Francisco or Sacramento Chinatown to urge wetbacks and stowaways, anybody here on fake papers, to come to the city and get their files straightened out. The immigrants discussed whether or not to turn themselves in. 'We might as well,' somebody would say. 'Then we'd have our citizenship for real.' 'Don't be a fool,' somebody else would say. 'It's a trap. You go in there saying you want to straighten out your papers, they'll deport you.'

  • The decimation of Lebanon was showing up in Chicago as a series of restaurants and little shops, just as the destruction of Vietnam had been visible here a decade earlier. If you never read the news but ate out a lot you should be able to tell who was getting beaten up around the world.

  • Emigration is easy, but immigration is something else. To flee, yes; but to be accepted?

  • She was trapped in a mesh of tradition woven thousands of miles away by ancestors who had had no knowledge that someday one generation of their progeny might be raised in another culture.

  • [On the immigrant-processing center at Ellis Island:] Waiting [is] the great vocation of the dispossessed.

  • ... that strange conflict in the American character: we pride ourselves on being the melting pot of the world but we insist on regarding most immigrants with suspicion.

  • Don't Preach. Don't Patronize.

    • Anonymous,
    • slogan of the woman-run Americanization Committee that helped immigrants adjust to American life, in Woman Citizen ()