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.
Read more about the immigration debate