Green Card Stories

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  • Green Card Stories

    Introduction byLaura Danielson and Stephen Yale-Loehr
    Stories by SaundraAmrhein
    Photographs byAriana Lindquist

    Published by Umbrage Editions
  • At a time when the immigration debate in America threatens to boil over, Americans are losing the ability to talk about a phenomenon that has defined who we are as a country—a nation of immigrants from all walks of life, from all corners of the earth, who have fueled America’s success with individual talents. Immigration tells our essential story: E pluribus unum—Out of many, one.
    GreenCard Stories demonstrates that today's immigrants are just as hardworking, energetic, and eager to contribute to U.S. society as past generations of new arrivals. It illustrates the energy and passion of these people and conveys a collective determination to fulfill their potential in America.

    Green Card Stories features the dramatic narratives of fifty recent immigrants— each with permanent residence or citizenship—by nationally-recognized journalist Saundra Amrhein, accompanied by intimate portraits by photographer Ariana Lindquist.

  • Farah Bala was raised by a single mother in India, where divorce was extremely taboo. She immersed herself in the world of theater, began acting in school plays, and eventually won a scholarship to study theater at Sarah Lawrence College in New York in 2001. Farah has gone on to become a critically acclaimed actor and drama therapy instructor. 

  • For years Charles Nyaga dreamed of moving to the United States from Kenya for graduate school. His dreams seemed to come true when he won the diversity lottery and appeared close to getting a green card while pursuing a divinity degree near Atlanta. But after immigration officials failed to process his application in time, his faith would be put to the test during a decade-long court battle that nearly ended in a cold detention cell.

  • Nelly Boyette made an odd pair with husband, Jeff. She was an undocumented immigrant from Peru with a mind for business. He was a Florida native who worked hard and carried a radio with a bumper sticker advising foreigners to speak English. After the two met at a flea market where they both worked and fell in love, they didn’t realize the uphill battle they faced convincing immigration authorities that their relationship was real.

  • Susan Delvalle was steeped in a business management career in Curaçao, a Caribbean island in the Dutch Antilles. But her love of the arts intersected with her business background. The two merged in New York, where she grew enamored with El Museo del Barrio and helped spearhead a major fundraising campaign that led to an overhaul of the museum near East Harlem, establishing her as a key player along New York’s Museum Mile.

  • Thupten Lama was a Tibetan teacher living for decades in exile in India. When mobs attacked his home there because of his religious beliefs, he moved to Minnesota, where he obtained political asylum. Today, Thupten Lama holds Buddhism classes for Americans, hoping his health will hold up long enough for him to become a citizen of the country that allowed him to practice his faith without fear of persecution.

  • Randolph Sealey, brought up in a Brooklyn public housinghigh-rise apartment, felt just as American as his classmates when he learned he was an undocumented immigrant. His dreams of becoming a doctor seemed dashed. As he studied on private scholarships, his family took a risky gamble and turned him into immigration authorities. A judge cancelled his deportation under a provision of the law and today he is an orthopedic surgeon in Connecticut.

  • Soumaya Khalifa, born in Egypt, longed to share the rich complexities of her Muslim religion and background with fellow Americans of different faiths. But she never imagined her first experience doing so would be after the horrific events of the terrorist attacksof Sept. 11, 2001. Today her Islamic Speakers Bureau reaches thousands of people, focusing on education and debunking negative stereotypes about Islam and Muslims.

  • Saah Quigee escaped Liberia with bodily and emotional scars from torture and beatings at the hands of rebel and government forces during his native country’s civil war. On a student visa, he moved to the United States and obtained a master’s degree at Cornell University. He and his family now live in New York, where Saah, a U.S. citizen, is a supervisor at Cornell’s Africana studies library.