Conrad wondered whether MacArthur fellows are anomalies. They’re not. She looked back over the past three and a half decades — which is the life span of the fellowships — to see who’d received other top honors given only to United States citizens and residents.
She found that immigrants were overrepresented among the winners of the Pulitzer Prize for music, of the National Humanities Medal and especially of the John Bates Clark Medal, which recognizes brilliant American economists under the age of 40. Thirty-five percent of these economists were foreign-born, including people from India, Turkey and Ukraine.
The far-right paranoiacs and scaremongers who pressured Trump to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) hate to acknowledge what we reality-moored types understand: Many of our country’s finest minds and brightest ideas are forged when dreamers from elsewhere encounter an unfamiliar place with unimagined possibilities. There’s a creative spark in that convergence. It has powered American greatness.