By GLENN GAMBOA
AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan, Taiwanese-born U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu, World Bank President Ajay Banga, Inari CEO Ponsi Trivisvavet, and Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation founder Betty Kwan Chinn are on this year’s Great Immigrants list announced on June 28 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Since 2006, the foundation has assembled an annual list of notable naturalized American citizens to celebrate the contributions immigrants make to the country and how they strengthen democracy.
“These are extraordinary people,” said Dame Louise Richardson, president of Carnegie Corporation of New York and a native of Ireland who is a naturalized citizen herself. “Presenting all these amazingly positive stories of people who’ve contributed hugely to American life I think is important every year.”
However, she acknowledges that the issue of immigration has become more politicized.
“I do think there is a growing sense that the numbers of migrants are somehow getting out of hand—and this is not unique to the U.S.,” Richardson told The Associated Press in an interview. “So, we are very keen to suggest looking at immigrants through a different lens.”
The 35 honorees on this year’s list hail from 33 countries on six continents and are leaders in everything from business and philanthropy to education and the arts.
On Monday, Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis unveiled his immigration plan which includes amending the U.S. Constitution to end the practice of automatically granting citizenship to those born in the United States, an idea also proposed by former President Donald Trump.
“Dangling the prize of citizenship to the future offspring of illegal immigrants is a major driver of illegal migration,” the Florida governor said in his “Stop the Invasion” plan. “It is also inconsistent with the original understanding of the 14th Amendment, and we will force the courts and Congress to finally address this failed policy.”
Jeremy Robbins, executive director of the American Immigration Council, a nonprofit that works to make people more accepting of immigration, said there are currently two very different narratives about immigration in the country: “It is an opportunity to strengthen the country,” and “It is a threat.”
“We talked to many Americans and they believe both those narratives,” Robbins said. “Most Americans believe that immigration has been great for America, but they’re nervous about the immigration that’s coming now.”
According to his group’s research, immigrants to the United States launch businesses at a higher rate than the overall population, with 3.2 million immigrant entrepreneurs generating $88.5 billion in annual income.
Author Min Jin Lee, whose novel “Pachinko” was a National Book Awards finalist, said she was honored to be on the Carnegie list because “it’s an honest look at America.”
“There’s this thinking that immigrants are yellow, black, and brown people from somewhere else and ‘they have all these needs,’ rather than ‘they have all these assets,’” said Lee, who emigrated from South Korea with her family when she was a child. “I think that this list is a really good reflection of our assets, what we bring to the table, and how we make the team stronger.”
Lee said that anti-immigrant political rhetoric is essentially a distraction from economic inequality and ongoing systemic racism.
“Toxic rhetoric against immigrants really forgets the entire history of America, which is that without immigrants, we have nothing,” she said. “I’m really grateful that the Carnegie Corporation of New York is bringing back the centrality of immigration as a force for good in the United States.”
Robbins said the Carnegie list is important because compelling stories change more minds than economic data.
“Every year, Carnegie lifts up these stories,” Robbins said. “This is a person. This is their life. And it’s not just that they were successful, but America is stronger because of it. I think that is hugely powerful.”
2023’s GREAT IMMIGRANTS
The Carnegie Corporation of New York’s 2023 Great Immigrants are:
Wesaam Al- Badry, photographer, originally from Iraq;
Ana Lucia Araujo, Howard University professor, Brazil;
Kyriacos A. Athanasiou, University of California, Irvine professor, Cyprus;
Ajay Banga, World Bank president, India;
Jean-Claude Brizard, Digital Promise CEO, Haiti;
Betty Kwan Chinn, Betty Kwan Chinn Homeless Foundation founder, China;
Ghida Dagher, New American Leaders CEO, Sierra Leone;
Daniel Diermeier, Vanderbilt University chancellor, Germany;
Miguel “Mike” B. Fernandez, MBF Healthcare Partners CEO, Cuba;
Maria Freire, biophysicist, Peru;
Nina Garcia, Elle editor in chief, Colombia;
Timnit Gebru, Distributed AI Research Institute founder, Ethiopia;
Karen González, immigrant advocate, Guatemala;
Azira G. Hill, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Talent Development Program co-founder, Cuba;
Roald Hoffmann, Nobel Laureate, Poland;
Guido Imbens, Stanford University professor and Nobel Laureate, Netherlands;
Angélique Kidjo, singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Benin;
Bernard Lagat, champion runner, Kenya;
Min Jin Lee, author, South Korea;
Ted Lieu, U.S. congressman, Taiwan;
Karen Lozano, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley professor, Mexico;
Daniel Lubetzky, Kind Snacks and Starts With Us founder, Mexico;
J. Patrice Marandel, Los Angeles County Museum of Art former chief curator of European art, France;
Stephen Michael, U.S. Army Brigadier General (ret.) and UBS senior executive, Guyana;
Alanis Morissette, singer-songwriter, Canada;
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, World Trade Organization Director-General, Nigeria;
Pedro Pascal, actor, Chile;
Susan Polgar, Chess Grandmaster, Hungary;
Ke Huy Quan, actor, Vietnam;
Helen Quinn, Stanford University professor, Australia;
Julissa Reynoso, U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andorra, Dominican Republic;
Oscar A. Solis, 10th Bishop, Diocese of Salt Lake City, Philippines;
Ali Soufan, The Soufan Group CEO, Lebanon;
Inge G. Thulin, former 3M Company CEO, Sweden;
Ponsi Trivisvavet, Inari CEO, Thailand.