07/27/2015 07:32 am ET | Updated Sep 09, 2015

This Land Is Your Land

This Land Is Your Land

This Land Is Your Land is a new project from The Huffington Post documenting the changing face of America. Our aim is to find Americans who hail from every country around the globe.

President Lyndon B. Johnson stepped up on to a podium on Liberty Island on Oct. 3, 1965, the New York City skyline rising behind him.

Our beautiful America was built by a nation of strangers,” he said. “From a hundred different places or more they have poured forth into an empty land, joining and blending in one mighty and irresistible tide.”

Johnson signed the Hart-Celler Act that day, opening up the country’s shores to a vast new swath of the world. But for several decades prior, America’s immigration policy had been governed by a quota system that was effectively racist, discriminating against any country that wasn’t predominantly white or northern European. A mere three countries -- the United Kingdom, Germany and Ireland -- supplied about 70 percent of the United States’ new immigrants.

Hart-Celler largely eliminated the quota requirements, making it easier for people from all countries to enter the U.S. The law gave preference to people with special skill sets, refugees fleeing violence or unrest and relatives of permanent residents or American citizens.

Voices From Around The World

Each pin represents an immigrant to the United States. Click on each to find out more of their story.

The truth is I grew up watching 'Lassie.' I really believed what was happening on the TV shows, especially with 'Lassie,' when they'd say, 'Oh, Lassie, go get the fireman!' and Lassie would go get the fireman. I didn't know it was acting. I really thought it was real. So, I wanted to learn from Americans how to train dogs, because I was already passionate about dogs and I didn't know I could actually teach anything.
Cesar Millan, Star Of "Cesar 911"
From Mexico

Fifty years later, the United States is home to a record 41.3 million people who were not born on American soil, both documented and undocumented, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data. That means that roughly one out of every eight Americans is an immigrant -- the highest percentage since 1920.

It’s in this spirit that The Huffington Post is honoring the diversity of this country, a truly multicultural mosaic that includes people like Som Nath Subedi, who lived for years in a Nepalese refugee camp after being forcefully evicted from his native Bhutan. Subedi moved to Portland, Oregon, in 2008, where he was able to buy a house within three years.

It includes Mazie K. Hirono, who was a little girl when her mother moved from Japan to Hawaii to escape an abusive marriage. Hirono is now a United States senator.

And Alaine R. Jolicoeur, a teacher in Miami whose family faced death threats in Haiti before escaping to the U.S. in 2003.

And Cesar “The Dog Whisperer” Milan, who arrived in the U.S. from Mexico in 1991, unable to speak a word of English. He’s now the star of the hit American TV show “Cesar 911.”

And Harish Patel, who immigrated from India as a teen and vividly remembers seeing snow for the first time.

Arriving in Hawaii was kind of a blur but I remember two distinctly new “American” things on the ship coming over — taking a shower, in Japan we only took furo baths, and eating strawberry ice cream for the first time in my life.
Senator Mazie K. Hirono
From Japan

And Anatoly, a business analyst in Washington, D.C., who came to the U.S. from Russia to escape persecution for being gay.

And Javier Juarez, who grew up barefoot on a farm in Mexico before sneaking across the border and riding in the back of a pickup truck to New York, where he's worked at a restaurant for the past decade. With the money he's earned in the U.S., he's built a house for his parents back in Oaxaca.

There’s no question: These 41.3 million people are reshaping the country. A few years before Johnson signed the immigration bill, America was 85 percent white. Now, largely due to the influx of Latino, Caribbean and Asian immigrants over the last half-century, the Census Bureau predicts that the majority of Americans will be nonwhite by 2043. Over 50 percent of American children 5 years old or younger are minorities, making them the first majority-minority generation in the country’s history. It’s projected that by 2060, one out of every five Americans -- approximately 72 million people -- will have been born outside the U.S.

I'm a congenital optimist, and one of the characteristics I quickly came to love about my adopted country was its optimism. It melded perfectly with my own temperament: Zorba the Greek meets the American spirit.
Arianna Huffington
Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post From Greece

Johnson delivered his 1965 speech next to the Statue of Liberty -- which, during the first half of the twentieth century, welcomed millions of immigrants aboard ships headed for the since-shuttered immigration station on Ellis Island.

I remember going to work in the State Legislature every day and seeing crowds of people outside protesting about whatever issues were important to them. In some other countries, they'd be shot. Now that I'm in Congress, I think it's incredible that average citizens can protest at the foot of the U.S. Capitol or walk right into their congressperson's office and ask them for help or share their opinions on an issue. It's so easy to take our many rights and privileges for granted, but we truly can't afford to.
Representative Norma J. Torres
From Guatemala

Over my shoulders here you can see Ellis Island, whose vacant corridors echo today the joyous sound of long-ago voices,” Johnson said at the close of his remarks.

And today we can all believe that the lamp of this grand old lady is brighter today, and the golden door that she guards gleams more brilliantly, in the light of an increased liberty for the people from all the countries of the globe.”

Did you immigrate to the United States?

Help us reach our goal of having someone from each of the world's 198 countries. Click on the button below to take the survey. We'll update each week.

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