American Independence Day - The Immigrant's Perspective

Hira Shaikh
July 3, 2019
 min read

The Fourth of July is a celebration of the birth of the United States. However, it is also a celebration of a country that defines itself by its incorporation of people from around the world through immigration. This day holds a special meaning for immigrants as they gather to celebrate what it means for them to be American and ethnic, as they recognize the blessings and freedom they have received in the U.S. after overcoming personal struggles. 

Notably, the founding fathers of the United States understood the importance of immigration to a healthy and booming nation. Since then, America has become home to millions of immigrants who share rights and blessings to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The United States is the most sought out country for people migrating in search of a better life and a broader scope of opportunities. Many immigrants come from countries where they lack what we consider basic human rights.  Necessities such as education, freedom of thought and expression, workers’ rights, and the power to vote are not guaranteed. For those immigrants, the United States represents a haven where they can be free to pursue unlimited opportunities, live to their fullest potential, and contribute to a market economy. 

As a result, much of America has experienced immigrant work ethic via cab drivers, janitors, housekeepers, motel owners, gas station owners, and the many non-Native soldiers in the U.S. military. All have long been an integral part of the American workforce. According to a study done by Forbes in 2018, 55% of America's billion dollar start-up companies are founded by immigrants. These start-up companies are based in Silicon Valley, with California being the headquarters for 33 of the 50. Moreover, the research also showed that 82% of companies had at least one immigrant who had served as a CEO, chief technology officer, or vice president responsible for major corporate decisions, managing the overall operations, and overseeing company growth. Furthermore, many of America’s top companies such as Google, Microsoft, Adobe, and Amazon are run by immigrants or children of immigrants who emerged as engineers, scientists, and innovators. Immigrants have also positively contributed to the fashion industry with top-end designers such as Sachin & Babi, Naeem Khan, and Prabal Gurung catering to top U.S politicians and Hollywood celebrities. Consequently, immigrants from all skill sets have been a substantial factor in contributing to the economy of the United States’.  

Although many immigrants initially faced additional hardships when they migrated to the United States, namely: a culture shock, difficulty learning and speaking English, raising their children in a new environment, securing work, and accessing services and transportation, they persisted and gradually adapted to the American culture while holding on to their own roots. They introduced diversity to America by sharing their food, music, clothing, and culture. In return, America offered them a home to build their own communities. Thus, in every major city, you can find a neighborhood of a population of people from a distinct origin such as a Chinatown, Greek Town, Little Italy, and a Little India.  

The Fourth of July is a celebration of this diversity, inclusion, and reminder that not everyone is able to enjoy the same freedom and opportunity that America offers. One is likely to find immigrants in all corners of the U.S.--whether it is in a small town like Tyler, Texas or a metropolitan city like San Francisco, California. America is responsible for cultivating the new ideas, skills, and entrepreneurial spirits these immigrants bring with them, without diminishing the freedom of those who already live here. The United States has and always will be a melting pot and a nation built on immigrants, and on the Fourth of July, America celebrates them and its freedom.

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