Cultures & immigration beat: New book tells 'Green Card Stories'

  • Article by: ALLIE SHAH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 10, 2012 - 7:10 PM

For years, immigration attorney Laura Danielson listened to her clients' compelling -- and often inspiring -- stories.

The stories of today's immigrants to America, she thought, would make a great book.

Her idea became reality this year with the publication of "Green Card Stories."

The coffee table-style book was put together by Danielson, legal scholar Steve Yale-Loehr, writer Saundra Amrhein and acclaimed Minneapolis photographer Ariana Lindquist.

"It really got started because I would just come home at the end of the day, and had just finished off a case and heard an amazing story," said Danielson, who heads the immigration department at the Minneapolis-based law firm Fredrikson & Byron. "There were all these stories that were crying out to be heard."

The book features 50 stories and portraits of recent immigrants with either permanent residence or citizenship.

Many immigrants have ties to Minnesota. For example, there's a Tibetan Buddhist lama who fled religious persecution in his homeland and is now living in Hopkins. There's the story of a Hmong girl who once lived in Minnesota and then moved to Arkansas with her family, who became chicken farmers. She is now a mixed martial arts fighter.

Other immigrant stories describe an orthopedic surgeon of Caribbean heritage who overcame the threat of deportation, and an Iraqi bodyguard for U.S. forces who was blinded by a car bomb.

Danielson said she and her book partners wanted to put a human face on the immigrant story, going beyond the political rhetoric of the immigration debate.

"We chose stories to be in the book that, when you tie it all together, would present a full picture of what immigrants are going through today," she said.

"Focusing on the inherent human drama of immigration, this book reflects who today's immigrants really are, how and why they came to America and why they decided to stay," a book excerpt says.

Allie Shah • 612-673-4488

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