04/05/2012 12:06 pm ET Updated Apr 06, 2012

My Favorite Immigrant (SLIDESHOW)

In a country which once bragged about its immigrant roots, an increasingly heated immigration debate has emerged. As the debate wages on, it surprises us that the contributions of immigrants to our nation have easily, and conveniently for some, been forgotten.

What would our nation look like if we had kept out the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" that the Statue of Liberty welcomes to our shores? Consider the many immigrants who became household names for their contributions to science, the arts, and education -- people such as John Muir, Madeline Albright, Joseph Pulitzer, David Ho, Irving Berlin, and Jaime Escalante -- who U.S. history books now praise as America's finest.

After 200 years of immigration laws which have mostly sought to keep out those in pursuit of the American Dream, we think it’s time to look at the issue differently.

Why isn’t the debate focused on finding ways to encourage and harness immigrants’ energy, spirit and commitment to a better life -- for the good of all Americans -- instead of demonizing those who seek the same opportunity millions of our own ancestors also pursued?

Here is a slideshow of some of our favorite immigrants. We hope you’ll choose to add yours and contribute to the discussion in the comments below.

My Favorite Immigrant