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We Are All Immigrants Here

Updated on February 1, 2018
Virginia Allain profile image

Politics affects all our lives. I made thousands of phone calls in the 2016 elections and now lead a group of women activists, all retirees.

An abandoned cottage in Ireland is testimony to the millions who emigrated to the United States and other countries.
An abandoned cottage in Ireland is testimony to the millions who emigrated to the United States and other countries. | Source

Who Is Your Immigrant Ancestor?

Do you know how many generations ago your ancestors came to the U.S.? Was it in the colonial times or was it during the large emigrations of the 1800s? Were they WWII refugees or holocaust survivors trying to reassemble their lives after great trauma? Maybe they were more recent immigrants.

Before you say anything negative about immigrants or say that you support our president blocking certain religions or ethnicities from coming to this country, I suggest you look at your family history. Think about the immigrants in your family and why they came here.

Unless You Are 100% Native American, Your Ancestors Were Immigrants

You Can Get a DNA Test If You Want to Know Where Your Ancestors Came From


When Did Your Family Arrive in America?

Sometimes when I'm debating hot topics on social media, my opponent gets angry. Then they say, "well, if you don't like it here, why don't you just get out of the country?" I delight in telling them that my ancestors came to this country in 1637. They came in a wooden ship like the photo shown below.

Then I add that they came to escape a government that dictated what religion you should belong to. This usually ends the suggestions that I should leave the country and also gets them to stop and think about what "religious freedom means." It doesn't mean the government will pass laws favorable to only one religion. It means the people of this country can belong to any religion they choose or none if they don't want to be religious.

Although I take pride in my Pilgrim ancestors, you don't have to have been here almost 400 years to be a good American. Perhaps you immigrated here a few years ago, maybe your parents came here after WWII, or maybe your great-great-grandparents came to the U.S. in the late 1800s. The U.S. is a nation of immigrants.

We bring different cultural contributions and can take pride in our ancestors. That doesn't make us less American. I take pride in my English and Irish ancestors and made a trip to England to see where my family came from. I love Irish music. We can celebrate our heritage while still being good citizens.

Some of Our Immigrant Ancestors Came Hundreds of Years Ago

Early immigrants arrived in America in the 1600s in ships like this one (in Plymouth Harbor).
Early immigrants arrived in America in the 1600s in ships like this one (in Plymouth Harbor). | Source

My Friends Take Pride in Their Immigrant Ancestors

My friend MaryAnn Colaluca-Routh wrote about her immigrant ancestors:

"I am the PROUD great-grand-daughter of Carmella Ferrandi and Antonio Colaluca, who immigrated to America from Italy in the late 1890’s. At that point in history, Italy could easily have been called a “shit-hole”.

I am very proud of my Italian heritage, of the courage of my great-grandparents, and I am disgusted and ashamed of the cretin who currently inhabits the Oval Office."

Her immigrant ancestors. (photo used with permission)
Her immigrant ancestors. (photo used with permission) | Source

The French Canadian Immigrants

My husband's parents came to the U.S. as children in the 1920s when his grandparents came from Canada to work in the woolen mills of Maine. There are many Franco-Americans in the New England states with similar immigrant stories.

When his parents came of age, they became citizens. My mother-in-law always spoke with a slight French accent.

Before they came to the U.S., their ancestors immigrated from France to Canada in the 1600s. We are all immigrants.

The Immigrant Story of the Allain Family

The early Allains had to flee from Nova Scotia when the British drove out the French settlers. Many Acadians went to Louisiana, some went back to France, but my husband's family escaped to New Brunswick, Canada. All their land and businesses in Nova Scotia were lost and they had to start all over again.

Generations later, Benjamin Allain came to the U.S. to work in the mills. After some months, he rejoined his family in Canada with the money he made. Unfortunately, there was not enough work in the small New Brunswick fishing village, so he returned again and again to Maine. Finally, he moved his family there and lived out the rest of his life in the U.S.

His sons and daughters worked in the mills and later the shoe factories when the weaving mills moved south for cheaper labor. Many French speakers from Canada lived in Maine and worked in the mills. Their Catholic church served as the hub for social life and the families helped each other out.

My husband was born after WWII when his dad returned from the U.S. Navy and married. By this time, my husband's parents were both citizens of the U.S. I consider them an American success story. His mother made crepes and raised two children. My father-in-law served in the U.S. military in WWII. Both of them worked hard all their lives. They were good citizens.

Remember, we are all immigrants here.

Alban Allain and some buddies - WWII
Alban Allain and some buddies - WWII | Source

Some Came in the 1800s and 1900s Through Ellis Island

Video: The Immigrants Who Built America

I'd love to see your family's immigrant story. Please, write it and come back to let me know so I can go read it.

© 2018 Virginia Allain

Do You Know about Your Immigrant Ancestors?

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    • Mr. Happy profile image

      Mr. Happy 2 months ago from Toronto, Canada

      Very good article! Clear, detailed and certainly love the photos!

      Yes, most people in North America are like You say: "immigrant here". Unless we speak of the First Nations, of course. They were in the Americas before the Vikings came to what is now known as Canada, or the Portuguese arrived in what is now Brazil. So, yes it always makes me question the people who say: "I want my America back", or "Go back to where You came from". Unless You are Aboriginal, your ancestors were immigrants. I think we have a lack of Logic with some people.

      I appreciate your story. It is a sensitive topic for some people but we do need to talk about it, in my opinion.


    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 months ago from Canada

      How very appropriate a message for today. My father was Scottish and my mother of Russian / Ukrainian heritage. My mothers family received quite a great deal of prejudice on their arrival into Canada. She said the other children would throw rocks at her as she walked to school. Today she would be completed accepted as a Canadian. It is unfortunate that the voice of a few uninformed individuals can keep this prejudicial attitude toward new immigrants still alive today.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 2 months ago from Central Florida

      That's a good message. In today's world, we have a global economy and need to have a global worldview, not just isolate ourselves within our borders.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 2 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Hi Virginia. I am the first in my family to immigrate to North America but my great, great French grandfather was beached in the Philippines and decided to stay. In today's world, the movement of people is such that we just have to make ourselves more tolerant.