On Friday, revelers will gather and march in festive parades throughout the country to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. This tradition predates the founding of the United States and its longevity speaks to the rootedness and prominence of the country’s Irish American population.
But the pageantry and pride on display on St. Patrick’s Day speak to something more than a shared ethnic identity. They are tied to the Irish immigrant experience, which is a crucial part of Irish American culture. Irish Americans have long used St. Patrick’s Day parades to demand opportunities for immigration from their native land, and one of these campaigns even opened doors for immigrants from across the globe. Its success is a reminder that immigration doesn’t need to be a zero sum game, especially because the inclusion of diverse communities of immigrants has long been a boon for the United States.