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Immigrants Of The Week: Immigration Voice Rally Attendees, Mandalit Del Barco, Peter Doherty, Regina Spektor, And Major General Antonio Taguba

by Greg Siskind

Editor's note: Here are some entries from Greg Siskind's blog.


Many, many folks came in from across the country to make the case on behalf of hundreds of thousands of others that skilled immigrants are vital to the American economy and we should have an immigration system that lives up to America's place in the world. Attending a political rally is not an easy choice to make particularly if you are new to a country. But there is nothing more American than expressing your views on public policy to our legislators. As one who loves to be involved in the legislative process, I hope all of the attendees have caught the grassroots activism "bug" and will work in the years to come not just on immigration issues, but all sorts of matters of importance to their communities. America will be better off because of it.

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If you regularly listen to NPR, you'll know Ms. de. Barco's name and her familiar voice. She's one of the journalists at NPR whose stories I always wait to hear until the end before getting out of my car. Based in Los Angeles, she's a general  assignment reporter covering everything from street gangs to immigration to race relations. Mandalit was born in Lima, Peru and raised in Kansas and California. Now the real immigration law sticklers will look at her bio and wonder whether she technically is an immigrant at all even though she was born in Peru. That's because it says was born to a Peruvian father and a Mexican-American mother. If her mother was a citizen at the time of her birth, she may have been able to pass US citizenship on to Ms. del Barco. Pure speculation, of course. And hey, it's my blog and I'm including her. So there!:-)

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In my hometown of Memphis, a lot of people don't know we have a Nobel Prize winner on the faculty of the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center and who also conducts research at the world famous St. Jude Children's Hospital. Peter Doherty won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his research on T Cells and how they recognize their target antigens. Doherty is an Australian and recently became a naturalized US citizen.

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Here's a new feature I've thought about for a while. Immigrants make contributions in every aspect of American society - the arts, academia, business, sports, politics, etc. People need to be reminded of this as we make the case that immigration is good for America. The folks I will profile came to America in a variety of different ways - as work visa holders, via the green card lottery, illegally, as refugees and via family sponsorship. And I'll try and focus not just on the most famous people, but newer immigrants making their mark in their fields. I'd love to hear your suggestions so please speak up with your recommendations.

I start the series off with Regina Spektor, one of my favorite singers. One day I was in Starbucks and heard a her hit song 'Fidelity' and had to find out more about the singer. A quick trip to Wikipedia really left me surprised. Spektor is a Russian-Jewish emigre who entered the US with her family in refugee status and she was resettled with the assistance of HIAS, an organization on whose board I serve.

Spektor is a rising star in the music world and if you have not heard her music yet, you soon will.

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I am including retired General Taguba, a Filipino native who served in the US Army until recently, because he was honored today by USCIS at a naturalization ceremony. I've been dumping a lot on USCIS lately (and for good reason), but here is an example of where the agency actually surprised me in a good way.

General Taguba is only the second Filipino to rise to the level of general in the Army. But he's a lot better known for writing the classified report on detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad. Taguba was attacked by many for standing up for what was right, something not surprising when you look at his stellar background. This is the latest honor for Taguba. He previously received the Distinguished Service Medal from the Army.

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About The Author

Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.

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