Immigration Opens Doors to the Future

America's historical welcome to newcomers is a key to its ongoing greatness. That will remain true tomorrow, too

By Abigail Ann Fraeman

Immigrants who arrive in this country, often with little but the clothes they wear, know that the key to the success of their children and future generations lies in education. Children learn what they live. When they live in a home that encourages learning and inspires working hard to achieve ambitious goals, they will learn to appreciate learning and knowledge. And that will set them out on a path that can lead not only to personal success but also to making a significant difference in their new country.

The value systems that immigrants bring to this country is why they and their first-generation children have made such impressively large contributions to America's scientific and technological progress. The work ethic and dreams that arrive with today's immigrants are still the same -- and will be for those who come tomorrow.


  I firmly believe that this country is a better place for allowing people of all nationalities to become citizens, to work hard, and to strive for success and recognition. Although the threat of terrorism has prompted changes in U.S. immigration policy, I hope the Statue of Liberty will always be a beacon for people everywhere with a fervent desire to help advance science and the human condition. I know that I will never forget where I came from, and that I am in this country because of its immigration policy in past generations.

I'm a second-generation immigrant from my father's side of the family. His parents came to the U.S. in the late 1940s as survivors of World War II. After arriving in this country, my grandfather earned his living as a tailor. He saved enough money sewing hems on pants and shortening miniskirts in the 1960s to send his son -- my father -- to college.

I'm a third-generation immigrant from my mother's side of the family. My maternal great-grandparents left Eastern Europe in the early 20th century, and my maternal grandparents were the first people in either of their respective families to go to college. Again, this meant sacrifices and scrimping wherever possible, and that value system was passed down to my grandparents, who were determined to send my mother to college.


  Now I am the latest beneficiary of my family's urge to learn and expand our knowledge of the world around us. My father is an electrical engineer at the Space Dept. of Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Lab. He designs integrated circuits, some of which are on spacecraft venturing beyond Pluto. I dream of following his creations, at least as far as the Moon and Mars.

If I succeed, if NASA develops the technology for visiting other planets, perhaps my children will dream about going to the stars. That's the legacy of us immigrants: boundless aspirations for the future.

Fraeman was a finalist in the 2005 Intel Science Talent Search