It is the foundation of our state and our country, a timeless process of people moving from one part of the world to another.
It also is the spark of angry protests, a wedge that divides families and neighbors, the heat of fiery political rallies and the focus of legislative clashes in Maine and nationwide.
Here are the stories of 12 people who came to Maine from away.
Some are permanent immigrants, such as a refugee who escaped civil war and an undocumented teenager who dreams of becoming a nurse. Others are temporary residents, such as a migrant apple picker and an international student hoping to go to an Ivy League college. Each followed a different path from a faraway homeland through America’s maze of immigration rules.
Their journeys reveal a vast and complex immigration system. And their stories show the diversity of the people behind the great American debate.
Each has a unique story and represents a different piece of the immigration puzzle. Roll over the photos for a description, and click for their full stories.
While most Mainers were born here, their ancestors came from all over the world. Mouse over the bubbles in the map below to view estimates of how many Mainers claim ancestry from different regions of the globe.
Below are 12 of the many different ways a noncitizen can enter and stay in the United States. Click to see how many follow each pathway to Maine, and where they come from.
Immigrants who want to become naturalized citizens must pass a test about U.S. history and civics. Take our quiz and find out if you would qualify.