The United States has long offered a promise of opportunity and safety to arriving immigrants. For most of our history we have safeguarded that promise ensuring that immigrants are treated fairly, equally, and with dignity.
It’s estimated that nearly thirteen million men and women in the United States are classified as lawful permanent residents (LPRs), more commonly referred to as green card holders. Many green card holders are anxious to naturalize and gain all the rights of U.S. citizenship, enabling them to participate fully in the democratic process.
Out of Many, One shows us how New York City's oldest museum, The New-York Historical Society is helping propel hundreds of green card holders to citizenship. In response to the changing Federal policies around immigration and citizenship which began in 2017, the New York Historical Society (N-YHS) initiated The Citizenship Project, a free educational program dedicated to helping prepare green card holders for U.S. citizenship. Leveraging the museum's extraordinary collection and educational expertise, The Citizenship Project assists green card holders to prepare for success on the USCIS Naturalization Exam -- a rigorous oral and written examination that tests knowledge of U.S. history and civics. The film concludes with a historic naturalization ceremony conducted by US Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Out of Many, One makes a topic of political debate in the news into a story of people doing their best for themselves and their families. The film follows 5 immigrants who enrolled in The Citizenship Project classes. They include: Dipna, a Mexican mother of two adult sons, who has made many sacrifices for her children in the 27 years she has labored, most recently as a restaurant cook, to ensure that her sons have a stable American life and future; Alexandra and Dagoberto who came to New York over 30 years ago from Columbia and soon found work as undocumented cleaners of Ground Zero office buildings after 9/11. Years of hardship in high-risk work, including asbestos removal, has finally allowed them to achieve a stable livelihood. They're now proud homeowners on Long Island; Jian is a Chinese computer science professor at CUNY who came to the US as a graduate student 19 years ago and soon came to realize that he would never return to the oppression he experienced in communist China and how essential it was that he fully embrace the freedom American democracy provides him; Fanny is a former Venezuelan government official who was granted US political asylum after her life was threatened by the police as a result of publishing a book critical of the then president, Hugo Chavez.
At a time of deep political, social, and cultural divide in the United States, and when immigration itself is a divisive issue, Out of Many, One illustrates how a common understanding of our shared history and understanding of US democracy is essential to sharping constructive debate, informed civic participation, and a new American citizens as eager stewards of our democracy.