I had always hoped that this land might become a safe & agreeable Asylum to the virtuous & persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong
You may rest assured, Sir, of my best & most friendly sentiments of your suffering compatriots, and that, while I deplore the calamities to which many of the most worthy members of your Community have been reduced by the late foreign interposition; I shall flatter myself that many of them will be able with the wrecks of their fortunes which may have escaped the extensive devastation, to settle themselves in comfort, freedom and ease in some corner of the vast regions of America.
-- George Washington
These persons who seek entry to this country seek more than a share in our material prosperity. The contributions of successive waves of immigrants show that they do not bring their families to a strange land and learn a new language and a new way of life simply to indulge themselves with comforts. Their real concern is with their children, and as a result those who have struggled for the right of American citizenship have, in countless ways, shown a deep appreciation of its responsibilities. The names of those who make important contributions in the fields of science, law, and almost every other field of endeavor indicate that there has been no period in which the immigrants to this country have not richly rewarded it for its liberality in receiving them.
-- Dwight Eisenhower
From the earliest days of our history, this land has been a refuge for the oppressed and it is proper that we now, as descendants of refugees and immigrants, continue our long humanitarian tradition of helping those who are forced to flee to maintain their lives as individual, self-sufficient human beings in freedom, self-respect, dignity and health. It is, moreover, decidedly in the political interests of the United States that we maintain and continue to enhance our prestige and leadership in this respect.”
-- John F. Kennedy
Refugees are to be accorded rights which--taken together--would enable them to cease being refugees, and instead to become self-supporting members of free societies, living under conditions of dignity and self respect. It is decidedly in the interest of the United States to promote this United Nations effort to broaden the extension of asylum and status for those fleeing persecution.
— Lyndon B Johnson
We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate. All are free to believe or not believe, all are free to practice a faith or not, and those who believe are free, and should be free, to speak of and act on their belief.
-- Ronald Reagan