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Immigrants Of The Day: Thai Garment Workers of Thailand, Lopez Lomong of Sudan, and Ming Sun of China

by Kevin R. Johnson

Thai Garment Workers

The L.A. Times updates us on a horrible story that had a happy ending. Over a decade ago, more than 70 Thai laborers weres enslaved behind razor wire and around-the-clock guards in an El Monte (a Los Angeles suburb) sweatshop, where they were forced to work 18-hour days for what amounted to less than a dollar an hour. "[A] shocked public learned of slavery in its midst and flooded the Thai laborers with American generosity: Churchgoers offered shelter, community advocates proffered English lessons and job tips, lawyers fought for work permits and legal status for the group."

Exactly 13 years to the day the Thai laborers won their freedom, two of the laborers took the oath of allegiance to her new nation at a ceremony, where more than 3,600 citizens were scheduled to be sworn in. Dozens of the El Monte workers have acquired citizenship this year or expect to do so soon. More than 40 of them had gathered last Sunday to celebrate with the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, which successfully fought for a $4-million settlement from manufacturers and retailers for their exploitation and won an uphill battle to gain legal status for the workers. "Because of their courage, they were able to take what was a horrific experience and emerge from it as victors," said the legal center's Julie Su, their lead attorney for 13 years. "I'm really proud of them, but I'm also proud of America because this nation opened its arms to them and showed its best ideals of freedom and human rights."

August 14, 2008 | Permalink

Lopez Lomong (Sudan)

We previously highlighted the immigrants on Team USA now in China for the 2008 Olympics.  A Sudanese 'Lost Boy' refugee will lead the U.S. contingent in the opening ceremony Friday at the 2008 Games. It is but another another incredible chapter to the incredible story of Lopez Lomong when his U.S. Olympic teammates chose him as the flag bearer in Friday's opening ceremony.

Lomonglopez Lopez Lomong (born January 1, 1985 in Kimotong, Sudan) qualified for 2008 Summer Olympics in the 1500 meters at the United States Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon. Lomong is one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, a young refugee who was resettled with a foster family in the United States.

Lomong attended high school in upstate New York where he helped lead the cross country and track teams to sectional and state titles, and later competed for Northern Arizona University. In 2007, Lomong was the division I NCAA indoor champion at 3000 meters and the outdoor champion at 1500 meters.

Lomong is a member of Team Darfur, a group of athletes urging China to exert pressure on Sudan's government to address the violent conflict in Sudan's Darfur

August 6, 2008 | Permalink

Ming Sun (China)

Sun1_2 Born in China, Ming Sun, a Private 1st Class in the U.S. Army, was killed in action by small arms fire while on patrol at age 20 on January 9, 2007 in Ramadi, Iraq.  He died less than 10 months after he enlisted.

Ming Sun came to the U.S. from China in 1995. He wanted to join the military straight out of high school, but attended community college while waiting for his green card. At Sun's funeral, his parents were presented with papers granting him U.S. citizenship along with a Bronze Star and Purple Heart.

Ming Sun is believed to be the first Chinese national to be killed in the Iraq war.

September 26, 2008 | Permalink

These posts were orginally posted on the ImmigrationProf Blog here, here and here.

About The Author

Kevin R. Johnson is currently Dean, Professor of Law and Chicana/o Studies, and the Mabie-Apallas Public Interest Law Chair holder at the University of California at Davis. He is also one of the editors of ImmigrationProf Blog.

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