About The Book

book cover

Americans are losing the ability to talk about a phenomenon that has defined who we are as a country—a nation predominantly 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.

Published by Umbrage Editions, Green Card Stories is a coffee table style book that depicts 50 recent U.S. immigrants—each with permanent residence or citizenship—in powerfully written short narratives and compelling portraits. Each story is as old as the foundation of this nation, but also reflects the global trends and conflicts of the 21st century. Arriving from all corners of the globe, coming for work, love, to study, invest or escape persecution, the people in this book share a steely resourcefulness and a determination to fulfill their potential in America.

Though the places from which they come have changed—today largely from Latin America and Asia instead of Europe—the essential drive to make it in America remains constant. Green Card 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.

The stories in this book—of sacrifice and hope, of pride and success—appeal to the heart. These are mostly stories of ordinary, hard-working people: shopkeepers, engineers, teachers, construction workers. A few showcase artistic, athletic, and business talents that have led to success and fame. Some immigrants have come from extraordinary circumstances, others from humble beginnings.

The stories include: an aspiring dentist who fled war-torn Sudan as a refugee with just three T-shirts and a pair of shoes; a Japanese hip-hop dancer for Gwen Stefani whose career was inspired by Michael Jackson; an orthopedic surgeon of Caribbean heritage who overcame a threat of deportation; an Iraqi bodyguard for U.S. forces who was blinded by a car bomb; and a previously undocumented Mexican farm worker and school dropout who is now a high school principal in a Florida school for at-risk kids.

The individuals in the book represent those who have obtained green cards through a variety of means: employment, extraordinary ability, visa lottery, asylum and family. Others obtained their green cards or citizenship through limited or now-defunct special programs such as military enrollment, a visa for abandoned juveniles, legislation that allowed some to adjust their status after paying a $1,000 penalty, and discretionary relief granted by a judge when deportation causes extreme hardship to a U.S. relative.

Many of the individuals in Green Card Stories overcame significant hurdles to get where they are today. Yet amid the difficulties, another story also emerges in these pages—about the host country itself, the kindness of strangers in America, the desire to support others who are working to fulfill their goals, and of the crucial role of education in improving one’s future.

Green Card Stories puts a human face on immigration, moving the debate beyond the divisive political arena and into the landscape of everyday America. These 50 individuals are but a tiny fraction of the numerous immigrants who are positively contributing to our nation today.

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