Global Detroit: 'Green Card Stories' brings human touch to immigrant experience

Who chooses to emigrate to the U.S.?  What does it take to wade through the process of legal immigration? Who are today’s immigrants? These are questions whose answers are sought in a new, award-winning book, Green Card Stories, whose creators will be in town for an event with Global Detroit this Thursday. Green Card Stories shares the histories of 50 inspiring new Americans.

Everyone loves a good story, and the stories in the book were chosen for their quality as story rather than as fodder for a pre-packaged political agenda. The collaborators behind the book wanted to showcase the diversity that exists within the label "immigrant": diversity of country of origin, reason for coming, experience seeking a green card, and communities adopted in America. But what emerged was a clear sense that each of the immigrants profiled now feels a desire to give back to his or her new nation, to be an active participant in improving the U.S.

"The other theme that emerged (that was a surprise)," says Stephen Yale-Loehr, one of the creators of the book, "was the kindness of strangers. There is a feeling out there that Americans don’t like immigrants anymore. But on a human level, people want to help each other. Those stories of being helped in ways large and small are a part of the immigrant experience." 

Yale-Loehr and Laura Danielson are both long-time immigration lawyers who have always been touched by the incredible human stories that their clients have shared with them over the years. Danielson had the idea for Green Card Stories over a decade ago. Four years ago, Yale-Loehr agreed to partner with her, and together they raised the money to hire a talented journalist and photographer, found the book's subjects, and produced the project.

All of the immigrants in the book arrived within the last 20 years. And many, according to Yale-Loehr, experienced a lot of problems as immigrants--being detained, for instance, for minor misunderstandings. "But despite the delays, they still felt it was worthwhile at the end of the day," Yale-Loehr says.

"The stories in our book show that these people want to contribute to the U.S. What motivates them in the first place is to make success of their lives," Yale-Loehr says. "So there’s a general universal feeling out there, if you want to do something with your life, and if you can't do it in your own country, you make the leap to do it somewhere else. And the U.S. is still the place that attracts people."

Immigrants are inspiring people. And the fact that they choose the U.S., says Yale-Loehr, "makes me proud to be an American."

Us too.

Join Global Detroit to meet Stephen Yale-Loehr and Laura Danielson at a cocktail event, talk, and book signing this Thursday, 5 - 7 p.m., at the Westin Book-Cadillac. The event is free. Please register here.

Photos courtesy of
Green Card Stories.
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