Immigrants brought us all these useful everyday things. You don’t really want that wall or that ban, do you, America?
With so much effort expended by our new executive administration on banning foreign immigrants from entering America, we may be seduced into historical amnesia — into forgetting that we are, truly, a nation of immigrants.
President Donald Trump, an orange-faced man who is all for immigration when it comes to choosing a wife, may have forgotten this uniquely American historical fact. Thus, it’s up to the media — us — to give him and everyone else a friendly reminder of how indispensable immigrants — past, present, and future — are to the growth and preservation of American economic ingenuity.
Here are 12 things made by immigrants that Americans use every day.
1. Portable Flash Drive
You may find this difficult to believe, but there was a time when we used floppy disks and CD-ROMs to save documents and dub music. That time is long gone, and it’s thanks to Israeli immigrant Shimon Schumeli, who invented the portable USB flash drive and revolutionized the way we store information.
Next time you stop at an automated teller machine to deposit or withdraw some money, be sure to remember this person: Luther George Simjian. Although ATMs were used primarily by prostitutes and gamblers in their earliest incarnation, they have become so mainstream that there’s practically one on every corner in the United States. Simjian registered 20 patents on them.
3. Rechargeable Batteries
Speaking of renewable energy, Indian inventor Samar Basu invented the rechargeable battery. Which you should be using more often, since they’re better for the environment.
Next to Google, Yahoo! is arguably the most popular and recognizable web search engine to have ever been conceived. The mind behind it is Taiwan immigrant Jerry Yang, who co-founded Yahoo! Inc. in 1995. Currently, Yahoo receives 900 million monthly visitors.
Imagine having to go through life without music (I’m listening to Flying Lotus as I type these words). Impossible, right?! Good thing Ernst F. Alexanderson opted to emigrate to the U.S. to work for General Electric, team up with Reginald Fessenden, and transmit the first human voices across the airwaves in 1906.
Busy wasting away the drudgery of a 9-to-5 surfing YouTube videos? Shout out to German immigrant Jawed Karim and Taiwan computer programmer Steve Che for making that possible.
Americans live and breathe basketball. Which means they should live and breathe for the legacy of the man responsible for the sport’s existence, Canadian immigrant and physical educator, James Naismith. Right?
If you’re wearing a pair of jeans right now and you’re one of the ones saying “America has an immigration problem,” you should probably strip down to your underwear. You’re rocking the result of German immigrant Levi Strauss’s imagination.
Modern communication hasn’t been the same since the telegraphic wonder called the telephone, invented by Scotsman Alexander Graham Bell, altered our world.
It’s as useless to attempt to disentangle Budweiser from American sports as it is to disassociate America’s sports beverage of choice from the creative consciousness of German beer connoisseur Adolphus Busch. No wonder the NFL devoted a commercial to his story during last year’s Super Bowl.
10. The Contraceptive Pill
The next time a conservative says that Mexicans procreate uncontrollably, I’m going to throw this man’s name in their face: Luis Mlramontes, a Mexican chemist who invented the first-ever contraceptive pill in 1956.
11. The Pen
Argentinian László József Biró gave us the pen and pretty much bequeathed to the human race the secret to immortality: the written word.
The Wright Brothers weren’t the only ones who made contributions to the invention of the airplane. Alberto Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian innovator, flew his own model in 1906.