'Green Card Stories' of struggle, success
Cesar Domico, a magician from Colombia, is one of 50 immigrants profiled in “Green Card Stories.”
February 8th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

'Green Card Stories' of struggle, success

Editor's note: See more images from "Green Card Stories" and an interview with photographer Ariana Lindquist at CNN Photos.

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) – It fits in the palm of one’s hand, but the possibilities ahead of it and the stories behind it are innumerable and diverse. It is a U.S. permanent residence card, more popularly known as a Green Card, and it confers upon the holder the right to live and work in the United States for as long as they wish, usually renewable every ten years.

"Green Card Stories," with writing by Saundra Amrhein and photography by Ariana Lindquist, delves into the life stories behind those cards. The individuals profiled reflect the incredible diversity of the United States. They come from Japan, Colombia, Mexico, Kenya, Great Britain, Vietnam, Egypt, Russia and a host of other nations. They come as students, laborers, entrepreneurs, refugees, doctors and artists. Some entered the country legally, others illegally; some through an employer, others through a spouse or relative; some in a drawn-out process studded with hardships, others relatively quickly. Many have gone on to become citizens, and for each, gaining the green card marked a monumental change in their life.

The idea for the book was conceived by two immigration lawyers, Laura Danielson and Stephen Yale-Loehr, as a way to share the incredible stories of faith, hope and struggle that they witnessed in their clients. It was also to serve as a counterpoint to an increasingly acrimonious debate about immigration in the United States, "showing how richly nuanced a society we have become through immigration," Danielson and Yale-Loehr write in the book’s introduction.

Those nuances are especially close to the heart of Amrhein, who covered immigration as a journalist for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida.  She became involved with the project in October 2010, and spent months traveling around the country with Lindquist and collecting the stories of dozens of immigrants, 50 of which made it into the final book.

One of them is that of her husband, Cesar Domico, a magician whose fundraising work for victims of the insurgency in Colombia earned him death threats, and eventually status as a political asylee in the United States. He gained his Green Card in 2006 and became a citizen in 2009.

"Short of going through this oneself, I think the closest you can come to experiencing this journey is by being a loved one, family member or spouse of someone in the middle of this process," Amrhein said. "You see on a very intimate level the impact of the complex legal process, the emotional highs and lows – the strain of the holidays and aching for one’s family when you can’t go back to your birth country – and then the disoriented feeling when you actually can, and discover during that long-awaited visit that you don’t belong there anymore. I saw that all play out for Cesar."

CNN: How did you select the people you profiled?

Saundra Amrhein: Laura (Danielson) and Stephen (Yale-Loehr) found a lot of people through their immigration colleagues. Ariana and I reached out to journalist colleagues. I found a lot of people in Florida. We also found people from newspaper articles and magazine articles and places like that. It was a matter of creating a huge spreadsheet of people willing to talk about their life stories. Ariana and I traveled around the country, and I wrote their stories and Ariana photographed them.

We wanted to focus on a couple things: one was how moving and powerful a lot of immigration stories are. The whole thing they go through with leaving their countries, starting over here, and of course the ways they reinvent themselves and what they do with their lives.  But we also wanted to have their stories reflect a lot of the trends, a lot of the things going on in immigration today. So we included a lot of people from Latin America, some people from Asia, some people from Africa, and then a lesser number of people from Europe.

You also see the impact of separation of parents from their children in deportation, the type of people who could potentially benefit from the DREAM Act, for example; people who have been in detention – there has been a greater trend of people who ask for asylum being put in detention. And then you see a lot of highly skilled people, and their struggle in getting their visa or converting their schooling visa to a work visa.

CNN: Were most of the people you profiled willing to talk about their stories, or did it take some coaxing?

Amrhein: Most of them were pretty willing.  I think they were eager to give an experience of what this was like, and share it with the public. The sense I got from all of them is that there’s distortion about them out there – that they're a drain on society. There's so much negativity around the subject of immigration. They feel caught up in this, and feel very personally about this negative narrative in the larger public about immigrants. A lot of them are very eager to show what goes into coming to this country and how they give back to this country. And all of these people, from doctors to machinists to business people, all are contributing in their way. They didn't want to get pulled into something political, but they did want to have a more authentic or more representative part of the immigration experience portrayed.

There was one person who backed out right as we were about to do the interview, because the immigration experience she had been through years ago was too hard for her to relive. Now she's a citizen, she has a family, she has a great job, but to have to relive the separation from her family, the emotion, the pain, just made her too upset and she had to withdraw.

Several other people – there were emotional moments for other people in reliving this. Other people told us that this was a life-changing experience for them, because they were moving and moving on in their lives, but this gave them the opportunity to reflect on the experience. It was a pretty emotional experience for a few of them to relive all they’ve been through and reflect on it all.

CNN: So many of the people you interviewed went through immense sacrifices to get to the United States – some were fleeing war and persecution, others left behind successful businesses, they left behind loved ones; many worked multiple jobs and lived a barebones existence until they got on their feet. What does that say about America, that people are still willing to give up so much to come here? What does that say about the immigrants?

Amrhein: I think it says two things. About the immigrants themselves, it requires a phenomenal amount of resilience to come here and go through what they go through. Whether they’re coming from poverty, or come from their countries as professionals and had to start cleaning floors when they got here. They have such a tenacity and strength, you find that not only has that strength enabled them to become really productive people, but that has also led them to pursue what they love in life. I came from these interviews feeling such inspiration. For the most part, they are not just making it here but doing what they love in life. I think what got them here and got them through the initial hardships was to know that eventually they could do what they love.

I think it says something that they have found what they want to do in life in this system, and they come with such a deep belief in and loyalty to this country. You hear about it and it becomes sort of a cliché, but it was really real for them. Particularly people who went through difficulty with the immigration service and their case went on for years.  I would ask them how they could not be bitter about that. And they said, "You don’t understand – even when the system breaks down or doesn’t work, it’s still an amazing system."  Some of them who had to leave their country through civil strife or conflict or war found that despite those initial troubles here, they found it easier to make it here than they did in their home countries.  I’m thinking of Yi Kai, the painter from China, and the man from Kenya [Charles Nyaga] who is getting his masters in divinity, who went $40,000 in debt [as he tried to fight a deportation order stemming from officials' failure to process his diversity lottery green card application in time].

They're in a unique position to sort of analyze the changes in this country and see how it might impact these immigrants coming behind them and how that impacts them.  And for native-born Americans, for that matter.

CNN: The people in your book got their green cards in so many different ways – by marriage, by adoption, through entrepreneurship, through sponsorship by an employer or through the sponsorship of a relative. I was struck, though, by how many people who came through family reunification ended up starting businesses or pursuing higher education. But there’s been some immigration policy critics who have suggested that family reunification should be restricted in favor of providing more visas for highly skilled immigrants.

Amrhein: I think there are many people in this book who came over, and they may not have had high school or college-level education, but once they got here, they also contributed in many useful ways. Like Hugo Ortega from Mexico, who now runs one of the best restaurants in Houston which is a favorite of former President George W. Bush's father. And people like Maria Parga, who came to  the Midwest and started up a family business, and went from a small shop to a mini-market, and she employs several people. Not only are they starting up businesses and employing people, but they are sending their children to college.  Part of the immigrant story for so long has been that your children will grow up and go to college.  I think that all immigrants at all levels are contributing something.  Putting their own kids through college as well as employing other people.

CNN: Was it difficult to sum up these complex, full lives into the space that would fit on the page?

Amrhein: That was my greatest challenge – getting all these stories into 1,000 words each. My favorite part was meeting all these people and hearing their stories, but most difficult was squeezing it into 1,000 words.

Entire lives hang on some of these legal decisions. And it’s important to remember in this national debate about policy and legal questions that there are real people who these things impact.

CNN: What do you hope people learn from "Green Card Stories?"

Amrhein: I hope they come away leaving behind any stereotypes or any sort of entrenched opinions that they thought they had about immigrants. I hope they come away feeling more empathetic and more admiration not only from what they go through, but what they contribute to this country. These are not cherry-picked stories, but they reflect the lives of many immigrants.  The introduction shows the statistics – number of patent holders that are immigrants , startup creators that are immigrant. You see the success played out across the country.  Their stories breathe life into those statistics.

There was a member of the team whose cousin is very anti-immigrant, and when she told him about one of the stories in the book, I think about Hayder [Abdulwahab, an Iraqi immigrant who had worked as a bodyguard for an American official and was then injured in a car bomb and partially blinded] – when she got done telling him that story, there were tears in his eyes. It's not that I want people to cry, but I hope people come away with a greater understanding of the immigration experience, and the immense talent and resourcefulness that immigrants bring.

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soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. guarantee sunglass

    You already know thus considerably in the case of this subject, made me personally believe it from so many various angles. Its like women and men don't seem to be fascinated until it is one thing to do with Lady gaga! Your own stuffs great. At all times take care of it up!

    April 19, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  2. KV

    Great interview. The book sounds fascinating.

    February 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. HillClimber

    Stop all immigration and immediately effect mass deportation of illegal aliens, inclusive of course of any and all persons who have overstayed their visas.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  4. Scott

    What are the odds Veronica's on some sort of state-supplied subsidy. Your ignorance and racism are hilariously misguided. Please educate yourself before you spew this kind of hatred in public.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  5. The Indian American

    You know, this Veronica person just sounds stupider each time she makes a post. By the way, the Native Americans were not 'illegal'. If anything, the colonialists, who forcibly entered the country and took over the Native American's resources and land and were hostile towards them and actually were, for a lack of better words, illegal. But, thanks to Squanto, colonialists who entered America had a higher chance of surviving because of the Native Americans who taught them how to plant crops, hunt and even shared the land with them. What did we eventually end up doing? We kicked them out, sending them to 'reservations' in a land characterized by its barrenness and in-arable qualities. So, your Aryan qualities are actually refreshingly racist and your tone is completely bigoted, if you know what that even means.

    Yes, illegal immigration has its problems and I think, to the person who stated the crime statistics, that it's easy to give specific data out of context. Is it really any surprise that Mexican nationals resort to crime after being treated in such a harsh fashion by the people around them?

    My parent-father-came to this country with nothing but good intentions and he, contrary to the slander on this page, contributes to the American economy and is honest, hard-working individual working as a Chemical Engineering. Thanks to him, I am a second-generation American and I won't let people, such as the ones on this forum, slander immigrants.

    February 8, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • karyn

      Yes, I agree:) I am Native American and am getting my green card now. I cannot believe my ears when I hear people say that we should not get one!!! This was our ancestors land before the real illegal aliens came and took over! so who is to say whos illegal and not besides the native americans and mexicans.. This was our country first! It was beautiful and untouched and now its going downhill.. sure I love the technology and all, but this is about immigration. There are bad and good in all backgrounds, crime in all countries. who are you to say this is yourland truly???

      December 4, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |


    February 8, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Harbinger

    I think anyone who wants to come to this country, work hard, become American, and pursue the American dream should be allowed to come in. That is how 98% of us got here. This is a country of immigrants and that has always been its strength.
    The problem is that if you don't have an American spouse and just want a better life its at least a 10 – 15 year wait to get residency . Its not as if these illegals just don't want to fill out a form. Its because they are poor and desperate and the wait too long. I would do the same in this situation. We need more immigrants. They are willing to work hard and create new businesses and live the American dream. THey are motivated.

    February 8, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |


    February 8, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Marktavius

    What is sad is we have been fighting to come here, and many that do work hard. Then we have citizens that live here and do absolutely nothing, look for handouts, want the system to take care of them. We should be able to send some of the lazy citizens elsewhere in enchange for hardworkers who actually care and want to try to make a difference.

    February 8, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe Rogers

    Success stories huh? What do you call the following?

    The following information is compiled from Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security reports:
    * 83 percent of warrants for murder in Phoenix are for illegal aliens
    * 86 percent of warrants for murder in Albuquerque are for illegal aliens.
    * 75 percent of those on the most wanted list in Los Angeles, Phoenix and Albuquerque are illegal aliens.
    * 24.9 percent of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals
    * 40.1 percent of all inmates in Arizona detention centers are Mexican nationals
    * 48.2 percent of all inmates in New Mexico detention centers are Mexican nationals
    * 29 percent (630,000) of convicted illegal alien felons fill Arizona and federal prisons at a cost of $1.6 billion annually
    * 53 percent plus of all investigated burglaries reported in California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Texas are perpetrated by illegal aliens.
    * 50 percent plus of all gang members in Los Angeles are illegal aliens
    * 71 percent plus of all apprehended cars stolen in 2005 in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California were stolen by Illegal aliens or "transport coyotes."
    * 47 percent of cited/stopped drivers in California have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 47 percent, 92 percent are illegal aliens.
    * 63 percent of cited/stopped drivers in Arizona have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 63 percent, 97 percent are illegal aliens
    * 66 percent of cited/stopped drivers in New Mexico have no license, no insurance and no registration for the vehicle. Of that 66 percent, 98 percent are illegal aliens.
    * 380,000 plus "anchor babies" were born in the United States to illegal alien parents in just one year, making 380,000 babies automatically US citizens.
    * 97.2 percent of all costs incurred from those births were paid by the American taxpayers

    February 8, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veronica

      Wow! It's worse than I thought...how could our leaders let this happen to this great country???

      February 8, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian Cantwell

      Just goes to show how big a pit headed bigot you are. Not surprised you live in AZ. Lets not forget every white skinned person in this country is an immigrant. If not directly, their lineage is that of immigrants. So, unless you a native Indian, you have no moral right to talk about illegal aliens. As you call them.

      Crime arises since people willing to work hard are prevented from working thanks to legislation in AZ and other Republican governed states. Try staying hungry and see if you still will not resort to petty theft to get some food.

      Wouldn't be surprised if you are surviving on some sort of State assistance.

      February 8, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Claude

      "* 97.2 percent of all costs incurred from those births were paid by the American taxpayers"

      Those American taxpayers includes All Legal immigrants... whether on work visa or green card!

      February 8, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • dontbow

      It's called reality however the morons who don't know why illegal immigration is different then the colonization of this country need to get an education. 15 mil illegals from mexico and south america in the last 15 years is the problem. No country can absorb that kind of poor influx.

      February 13, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. UC

    I was fortunate to move to the United States in 2003 with my parents through the diversity program that granted us green card. We all had to go through hardship but I’m very thankful for that. Today my father is owns his own house and has a well paid job. I was able to go to one of top engineering schools in the country and work for one of top-5 aerospace, defense companies. I see people criticize US immigration policies as bad for the country and economy. But there is also a good side.
    Also a fun fact: 63% of the student population of University of California, Berkeley is immigrant or first generation immigrates.

    February 8, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veronica

      And you speak English unlike the arrogant Mexicans who refuse to.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  12. TDiddy

    Come over legally, fine. Come over illegally and we should be able to shoot you!

    February 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kenny Seng

    Most immigrante come to America, because they love freedom and justic. And Most them are working very hard.

    February 8, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Joe from Kalispell

    I am glad this shows "Green Card Successes" and not another CNN "We should all feel sorry for illegals" story.

    February 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Report abuse |
  15. larry

    suffer to bring kids here,nd wife later they seperate nd hate themself.l suffer to bring them,

    February 8, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  16. chme

    Employment based EB3 category is a sham. Applicatons are stuck in this hole for years and it doesn't move. Green Card is a painful process and has no rationale in some categories. You are stuck in 10+ years process and pay taxes. Someone who has legally stayed in the country, has paid taxes, abides law, raising a good family and spent a good portion of his professional life in this contry, doesn't he/she deserve a speedy permanent residency?

    February 8, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      yes I agree with you, USCIS need to fix this, keep people who pay taxes, willing to buy houses, cars etc and willing to send their kids to colleges in the US. They need to understand that eb3 and eb2 people are the hardest hit, in their value chain, I feel it is time for them to realize this. all hispanic junk need to go home, they do not pay taxes, they do not send their kids to college and they are permanently on goverment money, they do not have the right to stay here. they need to be forced out of this country, they are acting like leaches. they have no intelligence either.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • Offbeatmammal

        ironically looking at the processing dates on the Visa Bulletin despite the supposed political focus on the immigration problem it looks like the time for H-1B/EB3 processing is getting slower ... so the light at the end of the tunnel (for us tax paying, law abiding EB3s who just want to be able to feel settled) is getting dimmer... As this is an election year please let's make progress on this a real hot topic for both parties...

        February 8, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • pam

      The problem is that they want a green card to work and there are no jobs because the illegals have them all. What people forget is that the illegals are being extorted. If they are overworked and underpaid, what are they going to do, complain? We need to go after the greedy employers that hire them.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  17. halfgitana

    My husband came here illegally and was here illegally for several years before he was able to get his green card. The real story here is that I am an educated professional and we have a son. My husband and I married and had kids (by accident) before he was able to be legal. Two American citizens who have suffered for years because of the current immigration rancor. Issues of love know no boundaries. With each call for all the illegals to be expelled, I see would see my family being split apart. Where is the voice of these American citizens who suffer because of the protracted immigration system?

    February 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veronica

      Are you asking for compassion for an illegal who jumped the border when he could have come in legally??

      February 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
      • JOSE0311USMC

        I AGREE...

        February 9, 2012 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • steve

      he is illegally here, period he did break the law, he should not have a place here in the US. There are people before him legally here working hard and paying taxes, they need to get the priviledge what you husband got illegally.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
      • halfgitana

        No, went we through the legal process to get him illegal, and believe me it took a long time and we had to leave the country for two years to get his papers. He didn't jump in front of anyone. What I am saying is that the immigration debate acts like illegals are SEPARATE from US Citizens, when in fact these are mixed families we are talking about. What I am asking is where is the compassion for the US Citizen family.

        February 9, 2012 at 10:00 am | Report abuse |
    • dontbow

      You ask for compassion for illegals yet we watch our country die from the free services and overcrowding that immigration without control presents. It also allows people to break the law at taxpayers expense while we try to follow the system and hope things can recover somehow. Why should we support people who ignore our laws and then put out their hand for free food, education healthcare, etc while we can barely afford it ourselves and it just gets worse every year. I hope this makes plain sense to you because it really is simple how illegals are contributing to the poor economy and decline of America. The government has more oversight of US citizens than the illegals.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Jason D

    I got my fiance visa in 2003 and came to america to marry my now wife, she had kids, i didnt, it made sense.

    I got my long term green card in 2005 but i also got disabled while working for an american company, the trouble dealing with employee insurance has taken 4 years to complete and they still appeal, my disability has taken even longer and i'm still waiting because my disability has to be dealt with in england before here.

    I have been fighting for disability now since 2008 so its been 4 years and they just keep changing the requirements to avoid paying anything out.....it seems if your not an american citizen it doesnt matter if your married to one but they will abuse the system worse then the leeches we all hate.

    If an american had been disabled in england theyd have their money within 6 weeks, its now 4 years and not even close to done, my disability lawyer(yes you need one here) has said it would take about 1 year more....5 years to get your rightful income...and they wonder why there are so many disabled homeless here

    February 8, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • hawkechik

      Trust me my friend, the fact that you're an immigrant has nothing to do with it. Disability is *extremely* difficult to get. And no, you don't have to have a disability lawyer. Supposedly it makes the process easier, but I've known people to get it first go without a lawyer, I've also known of people taking many tries to get it through. The good news is that when you're finally successful you'll probably get a whacking great check to pay out retro-actively to the date of your disablement.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veronica

      So go to England and leech off them!

      February 8, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      well do I get my PR that easy in the UK, I know there are lot of Doctors coming to US from UK, as they have put some restriction in place for the visa for professionals, before you complain you need to see your own backyard. and I am not sure why the law has to be the same for the US and the UK, they are 2 different countries, complletely different cultures, etc. I feel you need to understand US is a lot better place then UK, it is better oppurtinity here, why millions come to immigrate into this great nation, may God bless America.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
      • HeatherLangB

        My husband and I are British. My husband is a Physician and indeed, he makes so much more money here than he did in the UK. Doctors are also given generous incentives to peddle (recommend) drugs for the drug companies – America is absolutely the land of opportunity, at least for those who possess the know-how.. However, we would never trade in our personal healthcare from the UK to the US. The cost of healthcare and medicine in the US, is outrageous! Actually quite unconscionable but that's not our problem or concern. We are only here as investors, not humanitarians to feel sorry for (the people) what amounts to nothing more than figures on a profit and loss spreadsheet. The US is solely a consumer driven economy and it's people – expendable lab rats.. As an immigrant of "extraordinary abilities" (that's my visa category), we only come here to make money, not because America is "great" or better than anywhere else in the world; but because your laws are designed to greatly benefit us and to take advantage of you (the majority).

        February 14, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoeAnybody

      Hate to say it, but I'm helping a friend who lives in England right now as she tries to navigate the disability process there and it's worse for her than what you described. She's been waiting for assessment for more than 6 months now, not 6 weeks. And this is despite having left military service due to disability! She's trapped in limbo. They won't let her travel out of the country until its settled. If she does? She automatically loses any chance she has at claiming disability benefits. This has been far longer than it should be. So apologies for disagreeing, Jason, but no, it's not better in England. Its worse.

      February 10, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  19. hope

    legal immigrants from india and china are waiting many years to get green card. even those who did ther studies also being treated equally to those came on employment. there sholud be really good immigration system for the development of a country.Based on Prioritizing the necesseries of the a country green card should be provided.

    February 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Arif

      Indian and China have 100s of millions of people, thats why they got way more applicants than any other country in the world. From the very beginning India and China have been getting the maximum amount of visa through the spill over from Rest of the World's categories. They cannot just expect to give them all the available visas to ONLY Indian and China just because they have 100s of millions of applicants.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • steve

        Arif – you need to understand that people from India and China are lot more educated and responsible then what you see from mexico or any other country. They have very good education here in the US, and they had been to the best colleges in the US. They pay their taxes and they plan lot better for their kids. So if the US needs to compete with the new knowledge based economy, you need to hold onto them, rather than giving a usless guy from Pakistan, Iraq or Iran or even saudi arabia green card, and they live permamnently on goverment food stamp and unemployment benefits, do you think the US gains anything from all this, certainly not using the DV visa to get green card for people who do not fit the US educational level. I have few indians and Chinese at work, they are really dedicated employees and they are really great people to deal with, I never had any issue managing them or working with them. Lost better than the hispanic tribe, or the middle eastern tribe.

        February 8, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Taxx

      If you want to help develop a country, you do not give green cards to its citizens... you make conditions in their own country appealing so the best and brightest prefer to return instead of staying in the US. More green cards to Chinese citizens to stay forever in the US does not help China.
      On the other hand, what helps the US is to screen applications and select those who have a better chance of helping the US.
      In both cases, giving out green cards to anyone who applies doesn't help any country.
      Speaking as a green card holder, EB1 program.

      February 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • steve

        it all depends, that someone working as a faculty in a college is able to get EB1 and others are useless, it should all be the same across all the 3 categories ( EB1, 2 and 3), it is the employer and the immigration attorneys decide who will be getting eb1 or 2 or 3. yes based on the green card the US will prosper, these GC holders would invest in houses, cars etc, I know people they spent over 250K USD just to enter a house after getting their green card. they got new house, new car, new beds, new furniture etc. who benefits, it is the US and no one else. Tell me if that EB1 guy would have generated this wealth, do not talk non-sense it is not going to help. as because you got into EB1 does not mean you are worthy of the GC not someone else.

        February 8, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Offbeatmammal

    as someone stuck in the process – a six year backlog before we get a decision – I'd just like to share this great graphic of the process http://reason.com/assets/db/07cf533ddb1d06350cf1ddb5942ef5ad.jpg

    BTW that six year backlog... if they decide at the end of the process that I'm not wanted (or my company – where I've already worked for 5 years – lets me go) then I'm looking at 30 days to clear out and take my family (and rescued dogs) with me ...

    I wish that there was a way to emotionally separate the legal and illegal immigration challenges – because I think the righteous upset with the latter hurts the former – http://post.offbeatmammal.com/why-play-by-the-rules

    February 8, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  21. BAZ987

    The great majority of Americans have no problem with immigrants. Many of us to have a problem with ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS. To many there is a distinct difference. The people mentioned here did things the right way. Although the system is not perfect they perservered and followed the law. Apparently thes people paid federal and state taxes to be eligible for green card renewal and citizenship. This article paints a picture of those who came here legally. ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION is a whole different picture.

    February 8, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ana

      When you say Americans you mean American born children of immigrants, right? Unless you are native American aren't we all immigrants?

      February 8, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • Veronica

        Children born to illegals are illegal...the " Native" Americans came from Asia many years ago and settled here so they are immigrants too. The Europeans came here legally and built this country up. Look what's happening to it now because of illegals.

        February 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • Brian Cantwell

        @Veronica: I hope you know the meaning of legal entry. If you believe the Europeans came in legally, you certainly are ignorant. Colonizing and forcefully entry into US shores is what the Europeans did. It is no different from jump across a border fence. Get your facts right.

        And...get a life. Stop reflecting your extreme anti-immigrant stance on a national blog. Don't want other readers to call you Veronica the Pighead Bigot?...

        February 8, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
      • JOSE0311USMC


        February 9, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  22. Rajesh Koirala

    "He gained his Green Card in 2006 and became a citizen in 2009" may not be correct. As I know that a person can get citizenship after 5 yrs of Green Card.

    February 8, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • you

      If married to US citizen and stayed in marriage for 3 years, Yes u can be a citizen

      February 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jason D

      I have been able to take citizenship for years but chose not to....not everyone is in it to become american as quick as possible....some were hewre for the right reasons and not the benefits of american citizenship

      February 8, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
      • hawkechik

        This is very true. My sister-in-law chose to keep her green card rather than take US citizenship. I am not sure but I believe she would have had to give up her Mexican citizenship to take US citizenship and she didn't want to do that as they always thought they might want to retire there (this was many years ago, long before things got so bad with the cartels.) It's a moot point now since she passed away.

        February 8, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
      • Veronica

        You like many others are here to get what you can at American's expense and then you may or may not run back to your country after draining this country's resources. You are resented for this!

        February 8, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Stephanie Siek

      Because he was recognized as a refugee/political asylee, Cesar Domico was eligible for a Green Card one year after gaining refugee/asylee status: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=3416a6c515083210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=3416a6c515083210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD

      February 8, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve

      he is a magician ...so got it in 3 years ...:)

      February 8, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Reader22

    Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses, yearning to breath free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
    Send these, the homeless, tempest tossed,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

    Sound familiar? This is what our country was founded on and how we should still be living today

    February 8, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura Danielson

      And if you want to see more along these lines, please go to my blog: http://www.lampbesidethegoldendoor.com P.S. I am one of the collaborators on Green Card Stories.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Laura Danielson

      And if you'd like to see more on this theme, please go to my Blog: http://www.lampbesidethegoldendoor.blogspot.com. P.S. I am one of the collaborators on Green Card Stories.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sannate

      It's just a poem and wasn't even on the Statue of Liberty until 1903. It's just PR bullshlt.

      February 8, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hmmmmmmmmmm

      ooooooooooooooooooooo.... can we bring back leeches and slavery, too? *claps excitedly*

      February 8, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
      • Veronica

        Slavery- yes leeches-no..you do mean Mexicans right??

        February 8, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
      • Julie

        @ Veronica-You are the biggest idiot in this entire post. Save everyone's time and quit responding. You only sound more ignorant every time you reply.

        February 8, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Mickey

    It's sad really. There are thousands of poeple residing inside the U.S. that are illegal at the moment. Whether they came here legally and their Visas werent renued or came here illegally all together. I think at this point the government should consider offering amnesty again. At least for a set period of time. I mean you see how poeple from Cuba get it, they make it here and they get a greed card! Well what about poeple from other countries? It shouldnt be so limited as to escaping dictatorship! Just green card everyone thats here already and keep the rest out if we have to. Oh and if the government really wants to get out of the whole they've dug themselves into. Legalize weed. Not only would poeple be happier but it'd be sure to jump start the economy and lets face it no one has every died from smoking it

    February 8, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Veronica

      Only legal immigrants need apply!

      February 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
      • Jose Gonzalez

        Veronica, If you are Native American, why are you so ignorant? As far as I know, must of the Native Americans that I know are well educated (I'm not talking about school I'm talking about respect), nice and take care of the people around them ... I guess that being ignorant and stupid is not question of race ...

        February 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
      • JOSE0311USMC


        February 9, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  25. Federico Linares

    Great job. I think this is the way that eventually will help everybody to understand both side of the coin and help to design a fair, productive and convinient inmigration law in America.

    February 8, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |