As the war on immigration rages all around, the resistance is doubling down: judges nationwide have blocked the latest travel ban and a growing number of sanctuary cities have filed lawsuits over the Trump administration’s threats to withhold federal funding. In times of political uncertainty, taking stock of our history may be our best hope for gaining the perspective necessary to move forward. After all, history is the story of everyday people and movements over time.
Consider America’s original inhabitants, who crossed the Bering Strait tens of thousands of years ago, followed by the first wave of European settlers in 1500 and the violent, forced migration of African slaves starting in the 1600s. Later, in the 1890s, a new generation of people entered America, starting with Annie Moore, a young Irish woman who was the first of many immigrants processed at Ellis Island. Immigration is our shared history; moving to new lands that promise greater opportunity is human nature.
Here we reflect on 10 immigrant women who helped shape America’s history and culture. If you thought images from the recent Day Without Immigrants protest were haunting, consider how different your life might be without Hedy Lamarr’s inventions or Dr. Elizabeth Stern’s research.