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Immigrants Of The Week: Tina Brown, Sergio Mendes, Bret McKenzie, Jemaine Clement, Arnold Schwarzenegger, And Amartya Sen

by Greg Siskind

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


Funny, I had Tina Brown on my list for future profiles and there she is on this evening's The Colbert Report. Brown is a British native who acquired US citizenship and who is known for her leadership of publications like Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Before moving to the US, she contributed articles to the Sunday Times and the Sunday Telegraph in the UK.

Brown is actually on the talk show circuit these days touting her new book The Diana Chronicles about her friend Diana, the Princess of Wales.

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Sergio Mendes, the famed Brazilian-born musician, may not be the newest kid on the block (he's 66), but he's certainly hot right now. His latest CD Timeless has guest artists like Justin Timberlake and the Black-eyed Peas. You may have seen the CD if you've been to Starbucks lately.

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OK, I'm breaking my short-lived conventions for this regular post. First, I'm including two individuals today instead of the usual one because these two fellows really come as a pair. You've probably never heard of these guys, but they star in what I think is one of the funniest new American television shows in a while. Second,  I'm not trying to go high brow here as I usually do. No Nobel Prizes or Academy Awards here. Just two New Zeland immigrants that give us a lot of laughs.

Bret and Jemaine play fictionalized versions of themselves in the HBO show Flight of the Conchords. In each episode, the two break out into song and the lyrics are pretty memorable - maybe even classic in their hilarity. The songs are surprisingly well done given that they do at least two new songs in each episode.

By the way, one of the episodes had a funny immigration theme. Throughout the episode, the two face random acts of discrimination on account of their New Zealand nationality. The absurdity is that most Americans LOVE New Zealanders and Australians. Here's an episode description that gives you a flavor of the kind of humor in the show:

At a sidewalk fruit stand Bret and Jemaine are refused service. The vendor expresses disgust for New Zealanders and wants to disinfect any fruit they touch. The boys leave empty handed.

They visit the consulate for a band meeting where Bret is clearly upset about the incident. There they meet the pretty blonde tech support lady that is updating the consulate's aging Commodore 64 computers with newer P.C.s. After she leaves, Murray tells the band that he is in love with her. Bret asks about his wife and Murray reminds them that he is separated. Bret receives a package from home: his favourite cardboard box and Murray lends them a tape of New Zealand TV shows that he received from his mother.

At home the pair discuss the incident while they watch some of the recorded shows on Murray's tape, including an episode of "Albi The Racist Dragon".

Bret and Jemaine go to see Dave to ask him about the racism they experienced. Dave tells them that there is a lot of "prejudism" against the English in America. Disregarding their pleas that they are not English, Dave admits that even he hates them sometimes. A montage of scenes follow in which we see Jemaine and Bret being jostled on the street, being denied entry to a nightclub, getting cheated by a hot dog vendor and being forced to ride at the back of the bus.


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The Governator is probably the most famous immigrant in America and frequently talks up his immigrant roots. Do I really need to tell about Arnold's bio - California governor, movie star, famous body builder?

Oh yeah, did I mention that Arnold is probably the most successful person with an illegal immigrant past? The link is to an article I wrote about four years ago. While it is not 100% certain Arnold was an illegal immigrant, it certainly looks that way. To his credit, Arnold has come out in favor of legalizing unlawfully present immigrants.

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Amartya Sen, a native of India, was the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics. Sen revolutionized our understanding of the causes of famine and his research will know doubt lead to many lives being saved in the years to come. He also has done important research on gender inequality in developing countries. Sen teaches at Harvard as well as at Cambridge.

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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.