A night of celebration and stories of recent immigrants

KIND hosts Green Card Stories

Washington, DC — More than 60 people came out to celebrate and recognize the contributions of recent immigrants to the United States at an event co-sponsored by KIND and the editors of Green Card Stories, a book of essays that chronicles the challenges and joys that newcomers often experience in their journeys to the United States and in their quest to gain legal status here. A portion of the proceeds from book sales at the event were donated to KIND.

Recap

“Green Card Stories is the face of immigration today – the remarkable stories and photographs of 50 recent U.S. immigrants from all corners of the world, from all walks of life, and how they came to navigate the complex and emotional process to become residents or citizens of this country, said KIND President Wendy Young, adding that a number of them came to the U.S. as unaccompanied children. “They came to the U.S. for many of the same reasons KIND’s children come – some were abandoned by parents or caretakers, others sought asylum due to political or religious persecution, and a number came as refugees,” she said.

Co-collaborator of the book Stephen Yale – Loehr, a Cornell University law professor and highly respected immigration attorney said, “Green Card Stories tells the story of America – E Pluribus Unum (out of one, many) – and shows the diversity of not only immigrants, but also of their personal stories.”

One woman featured in the book was married off at the age of 13 to a man who severely physically abused her; she became one of the first people to get asylum in the U.S. due to gender-based domestic violence. A man from Liberia was tortured during his country’s civil war. He made it to the United States and was temporarily working in a law library, when he met Stephen Yale –Loehr, who helped him apply successfully for asylum.

KIND Board Co-Chair and Executive Vice-President and General Counsel of Microsoft Brad Smith said, “What I like about this book is that it does the same thing that we as lawyers try to do: bring to life real stories. More than anything else I think what it reminds us is that the American Dream is alive and well and for many people the American Dream starts with the Dream of becoming an American.”

Alexandra Hess, a KIND volunteer attorney and associate at Hughes Hubbard who successfully completed a KIND special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS) case and is currently representing a KIND child in a gang based asylum case, spoke about the tenacity of the children she represents. She noted how one of her clients, from El Salvador, walked for several days, and then was locked in a “safe house” for 28 days with little food or water. He was fleeing from his mother’s physical abuse and was seeking protection in the United States. “If you are not already volunteering with KIND, I suggest that you do so now,” Alexandra said.

The first question asked by an audience member during the Q&A session was, “If you are a lawyer and are interested in representing a child, what would be the first step?” Alice Fitzgerald, KIND’s Director of Pro Bono Recruitment and Training, gave him her business card – one of the many ways to become part of the KIND network of more than 4,600 + volunteer lawyers who have been trained by KIND.

“KIND greatly appreciates the work of Steve and his colleagues to help put a face to the story of immigration – and the often lifesaving protections that a U.S. Green Card offers,” KIND President Wendy Young said. “And we also thank the thousands of lawyers who have been so generous with their time, and who are critical to our mission of ensuring that no child faces immigration court alone.”

To view more photos from the event check out out Flickr account here.