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“Immigrant Heritage Month” Kicks Off With Naturalization Ceremony, Call For Immigrant Stories

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In honor of the second annual “Immigrant Heritage Month” celebration, Welcome.us and other partners are asking immigrants to share their stories and the vibrant contributions they’ve made to our communities and nation.

In a White House blog post today, Zaid Hassan shares his family’s inspiring story as immigrants from Pakistan. Hassan, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, became an American citizen in 2012, and today works as a Staff Assistant at the White House Office of Public Engagement.

“As exotic as it may sound, there is nothing particularly unique about my story other than the fact that it is uniquely American,” Hassan writes. “Because let’s face it: this story is only possible in America.”

Hassan’s inspiring story as an immigrant in America, “My Day One: September 6, 2012,” is available to read here.

Yesterday was also a life-changing day for dozens of immigrants in the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Mayor Bill Peduto hosted a historic naturalization ceremony in Pittsburgh City Council Chambers for 30 new Americans from 18 different countries.

To kick off the start of Immigrant Heritage Month, Pittsburgh also announced a new plan to become a more welcoming city for immigrants.

“The program is on the cutting edge on how cities can attract new people,” Mayor Peduto said. “People from around the country and people around the world.”

Additionally, TV star Dania Ramirez released a powerful new video sharing her family’s story as immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Ramirez currently stars in ABC’s hit “Devious Maids,” which draws millions of viewers weekly.

In a touching moment during the clip, Ramirez asks her immigrant mom if she’s been able to achieve her American Dream.

“I achieved it because your accomplishments are my accomplishments,” her mom replies.

Additional immigrant stories from all across the nation can be found on Welcome.us’s homepage.

According to a 2013 survey from the US Census Bureau, the nation’s immigrant population was more than 41 million, “or 13 percent of the total population of 316 million.”

An estimated 11 million of those immigrants are undocumented, and contribute vast amounts to their local and state economies as they continue to fight to become a recognized part of the American fabric.

A Wall Street Journal report from last week highlighted the fact that immigrants “launched 28.5% of the new businesses in 2014, up from 25.9% a year earlier and just 13.3% in 1996.”

Immigrants and their families are encouraged to get involved in the month’s festivities by sharing their own stories at the Welcome.us website, and share on social media platforms using the #IHM2015 hashtag.