“America is a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.”

Ronald Reagan, in his farewell address to the nation, said, ‘I’ve spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.'”

In the lyrics of Gordon Lightfoot, Immigrants have

“Got a dream to take them there, They’re coming to America;
Got a dream they’ve come to share, They’re coming to America . . . Today!”


The United States has an economic advantage that is the envy of the world. Inventors flock to the United States like nowhere else. Recent research on the immigration patterns of high-skilled workers shows that from 2000 to 2010, the US received over 190,000 inventors who migrated to the US, while only just over 10,000 left the country. The US received more inventors than every other country combined, and was one of only two countries in the study with a positive net migration. The researchers define inventors as anyone who has filed for a patent and use data from the World Intellectual Property Organization.

The US benefits tremendously from the innovations of top foreign talent. Foreign immigration fuels American innovation. Immigrants often have science and engineering degrees, or they attend U.S. universities to further their educational dreams, and immigrants obtain patents at twice the rate of U.S.-born citizens. While the United States isn’t the world’s largest destination for foreign immigrants, 57.1 percent of the world’s inventor community comes to America, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. Moreover, in 2011, 76 percent of the patents earned by the top 10 patenting American universities listed a foreign inventor.

The Innovation of Immigrants

The following YouTube video does a nice job of highlighting the Innovation of Immigrants:

Recognizing Those Who’ve Come to America

The following are 14 immigrants without whom both America and the world would be very different, inventors who found their way here and who have given us all so much for which to be thankful.

Albert Einstein: (14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist. Einstein developed the theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics (alongside quantum mechanics). Einstein was born in Ulm, in the Kingdom of Württemberg in the German Empire, on 14 March 1879. Einstein’s work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. Einstein is best known by the general public for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”). He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”, a pivotal step in the evolution of quantum theory. Einstein became an American citizen in 1940. Not long after settling into his career at the Institute for Advanced Study (in Princeton, New Jersey), he expressed his appreciation of the meritocracy in American culture when compared to Europe. He recognized the “right of individuals to say and think what they pleased”, without social barriers, and as a result, individuals were encouraged, he said, to be more creative, a trait he valued from his own early education.

Sergey Brin: Sergey Mikhaylovich Brin (born August 21, 1973) is a Russian-born American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur. Together with Larry Page, he co-founded Google. Brin is the President of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. As of October 2017, Brin is the 13th richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$46 billion. Brin immigrated to the United States with his family from the Soviet Union at the age of 6. He earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Maryland, following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps by studying mathematics, as well as computer science. After graduation, he enrolled in Stanford University to acquire a PhD in computer science. There he met Page, with whom he later became friends. They crammed their dormitory room with inexpensive computers and applied Brin’s data mining system to build a web search engine. The program became popular at Stanford, and they suspended their PhD studies to start up Google in a rented garage.

Levi Strauss: Levi Strauss (February 26, 1829 – September 26, 1902) was a German-American businessman who founded the first company to manufacture blue jeans. His firm, Levi Strauss & Co., began in 1853 in San Francisco, California. Levi Strauss was born in Buttenheim, on February 26, 1829, in the Franconian region of the Kingdom of Bavaria, in the German Confederation, to an Ashkenazi Jewish family. He was the son of Hirsch Strauss and his second wife Rebecca Strauss. At the age of 18, Strauss, his mother and two sisters traveled to the United States to join his brothers Jonas and Louis, who had begun a wholesale dry goods business in New York City called J. Strauss Brother & Co.

Alexander Graham Bell: Alexander Graham Bell (March 3, 1847 – August 2, 1922) was a Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer, and innovator who is credited with patenting the first practical telephone and founding the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) in 1885. Bell’s father, grandfather, and brother had all been associated with work on elocution and speech and both his mother and wife were deaf, profoundly influencing Bell’s life’s work. His research on hearing and speech further led him to experiment with hearing devices which eventually culminated in Bell being awarded the first U.S. patent for the telephone in 1876. Many other inventions marked Bell’s later life, including groundbreaking work in optical telecommunications, hydrofoils, and aeronautics.

Ralph Henry Baer: Ralph Henry Baer (March 8, 1922-December 6, 2014) was a German-born American inventor, game developer, and engineer, and was known as “the Father of Video Games” due to his many contributions to games and the video game industry in the latter half of the 20th century. He was born in Germany, but he and his family fled to the United States before the outbreak of World War II, where he changed his name and later served the American war effort. Afterwards, he pursued work in electronics. He was asked to build “the best television set in the world” in 1951 while working at Loral. He proposed the idea of playing games on television screens, but his boss rejected it. That idea came back to his mind in 1966 while working at Sanders Associates, and he went on to develop eight hardware prototypes. He also contributed to the development of other consoles and consumer game units. In February, 2006, he was awarded the National Medal of Technology for “his groundbreaking and pioneering creation, development and commercialization of interactive video games, which spawned related uses, applications, and mega-industries in both the entertainment and education realms”.

 James L. Kraft: Kraft (December 11, 1874-February 16, 1953) was born near Stevensville, Ontario, Canada. After emigrating to Buffalo in 1902, he was forced out of cheese wholesaler Shefford Cheese Company by his partners. Kraft began a new cheese business in Chicago in 1903 by selling cheese from a horse-drawn wagon. Four of his brothers joined the company in 1909. By 1914 J.L. Kraft & Bros. Company, which later became Kraft Foods Inc opened its first cheese manufacturing plant in Stockton, Illinois. Kraft developed a process, patented in 1916, for pasteurizing cheese so that it would resist spoiling and could be shipped long distances. The company grew quickly, expanding into Canada in 1919. Kraft saw a large increase in business during World War I when the United States government provided cheese in tins to their armed forces.

Luther George Simjian:  Luther Simjian (January 28, 1905 – October 23, 1997) grew up in Aintab, Ottoman Empire. He was separated from his family in the Armenian Genocide. Simjian first went to Beirut, later to Marseille. In 1920 he emigrated to the United States, where he found shelter with relatives in New Haven, Connecticut. Beginning at the age of 15, he worked there as a photographer. He gave up his initial plans of studying medicine when he was engaged as a laboratory photographer by the Yale School of Medicine. Later, in 1928, he became director of their photography department, and invented several machines such as a projector for microscope images. In 1959 Simjian had the idea to build the Bankmatic Automated Teller Machine, probably his most famous invention. He registered 20 patents for it and was considered “prior art device” in subsequent fillings.

Nikola Tesla Nikola: Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist who is best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Born and raised in the Austrian Empire, Tesla received an advanced education in engineering and physics in the 1870s and gained practical experience in the early 1880s working in telephony and at Continental Edison in the new electric power industry. He emigrated to the United States in 1884, where he would become a naturalized citizen. His alternating current (AC) induction motor and related polyphase AC patents, licensed by Westinghouse Electric in 1888, earned him a considerable amount of money and became the cornerstone of the polyphase system which that company would eventually market.

Elon Reeve Musk: Elon Reeve Musk (born June 28, 1971) is a South African business magnate, investor, engineer, and inventor. He is the founder, CEO, and CTO of SpaceX; a co-founder, Series A investor, CEO, and product architect of Tesla Inc.; co-chairman of OpenAI; and founder and CEO of Neuralink. Musk is also a co-founder and former chairman of SolarCity, co-founder of Zip2, and founder of X.com, which merged with Confinity and took the name PayPal. Musk also founded The Boring Company in 2016. As of October 2017, Musk has an estimated net worth of $20.8 billion, ranking in the 2017 Forbes 400 as the 21st wealthiest person in America. In March 2016, he was listed by Forbes as the 80th-wealthiest person in the world. In December 2016, Musk was ranked 21st on the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People. Musk has stated that the goals of SolarCity, Tesla, and SpaceX revolve around his vision to change the world and humanity. His goals include reducing global warming through sustainable energy production and consumption, and reducing the “risk of human extinction” by “making life multiplanetary” by establishing a human colony on Mars. In addition to his primary business pursuits, he has envisioned a high-speed transportation system known as the Hyperloop, and has proposed a vertical take-off and landing supersonic jet aircraft with electric fan propulsion, known as the Musk electric jet.

Mario José Molina-Pasquel Henríquez: Mario José Molina-Pasquel Henríquez (born March 19, 1943) is a Mexican chemist reputed for his pivotal role in the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole. In 2004 he became professor at the University of California, San Diego and the Center for Atmospheric Sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He was a co-recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his role in elucidating the threat to the Earth’s ozone layer of chlorofluorocarbon gases (or CFCs), becoming the first Mexican-born citizen to ever receive a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Molina is a climate policy adviser to President of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto.

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar: Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar FRS PV (19 October 1910 – 21 August 1995), was an Indian American astrophysicist who spent his professional life in the United States. He was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics with William A. Fowler for “…theoretical studies of the physical processes of importance to the structure and evolution of the stars”. His mathematical treatment of stellar evolution yielded many of the best current theoretical models of the later evolutionary stages of massive stars and black holes. The Chandrasekhar limit is named after him. Chandrasekhar worked on a wide variety of physical problems in his lifetime, contributing to the contemporary understanding of stellar structure, white dwarfs, stellar dynamics, stochastic process, radiative transfer, the quantum theory of the hydrogen anion, hydrodynamic and hydromagnetic stability, turbulence, equilibrium and the stability of ellipsoidal figures of equilibrium, general relativity, mathematical theory of black holes and theory of colliding gravitational waves.

Andrew Stephen ‘Andy’ Grove: Andrew Stephen ‘Andy’ Grove (2 September 1936 – 21 March 2016) was a Hungarian-born American businessman, engineer, author and a pioneer in the semiconductor industry. He escaped from Communist-controlled Hungary at the age of 20 and moved to the United States where he finished his education. He was one of the founders and the CEO of Intel, helping transform the company into the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductors. As a result of his work at Intel, along with his books and professional articles, Grove had a considerable influence on electronics manufacturing industries worldwide. He has been called the “guy who drove the growth phase” of Silicon Valley. In 1997, Time magazine chose him as “Man of the Year”, for being “the person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and the innovative potential of microchips.” One source notes that by his accomplishments at Intel alone, he “merits a place alongside the great business leaders of the 20th century.”

Carl Djerassi: Carl Djerassi (October 29, 1923 – January 30, 2015) was an Austrian-born Bulgarian-American chemist, novelist, and playwright. He is best known for his contribution to the development of oral contraceptive pills, nicknamed the father of the pill. Carl Djerassi was born in Vienna, Austria, but spent the first years of his infancy in Sofia, Bulgaria, the home of his father, Samuel Djerassi, a dermatologist and specialist in sexually transmitted diseases. His mother was Alice Friedmann, a Viennese dentist and physician. Both parents were Jewish. In December 1939, Djerassi arrived with his mother in the United States, nearly penniless. Djerassi’s mother worked in a group practice in upstate New York. In 1949, his father emigrated to the United States, practiced in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and eventually retired near his son in San Francisco.

Amar Gopal Bose: Amar Gopal Bose (November 2, 1929 – July 12, 2013) was an American academic and entrepreneur of Indian descent. An electrical engineer and sound engineer, he was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for over 45 years. He was also the founder and chairman of Bose Corporation. In 2011, he donated a majority of the company to MIT in the form of non-voting shares to sustain and advance MIT’s education and research mission. Bose was born in a Bengali Hindu family and raised in Philadelphia to an Indian father, Noni Gopal Bose and an American mother, Charlotte.

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