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Immigrants Of The Day: Cesar Millan of Mexico, Sukhee Kang of Korea, and Frank Gehry of Canada

by Kevin R. Johnson

Cesar Millan (Mexico)

180pxcesar_millan Cesar Millan (born August 27, 1969) is a professional dog trainer; in his words, he "rehabilitates dogs, trains people." He is best known for his television series, Dog Whisperer, which is currently in its fifth season and airs on the National Geographic Channel.

Cesar's strongest interest is in rehabilitating aggressive dogs, and he holds a special fondness for what he refers to as the "power breeds," such as pit bulls and rottweilers.

Millan, a native of Culiacan, México, was born in 1969. Millan spent much of his early childhood at a farm in Ixpalino, near Culiacán, where his grandfather was a farmer. He was fascinated by all animals from an early age, but was most drawn to dogs and spent a great deal of time observing the behavior of the packs of farm dogs and how they worked on the farm.

On December 23, 1990, at the age of 21, Millan, who spoke no English, crossed the border into the United States. His family scraped together one hundred dollars for his journey, and Millan crossed through Tijuana. He did not have a visa to enter into the United States.  He spent a few weeks at the home of a cousin in Tijuana, studying the border. His first three attempts to cross failed. The fourth time, after an arduous journey which involved spending hours in a water hole waiting for the right time to avoid the border patrol, he succeeded. He lived on the streets for a month but then got a job and eventually room and board at a dog grooming parlor. Millan gained a reputation as someone who could work easily with the most difficult and aggressive dogs. Millan's next job was washing limousines, work that had been offered to him by one of the San Diego clients.

Millan changed his career goal from that of being a Hollywood dog trainer to rehabilitating troubled dogs and he started his own business, the Pacific Point Canine Academy, and came up with a logo, a jacket, and business cards. His employer started recommending him to his friends, and Millan's client list grew.

In 1994 he came to the attention of celebrities Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith who began recommending Millan to many other celebrities and also mentored him in other ways, helping to improve his English as well as becoming good friends. As his English language skills grew, Millan worked on improving his own education, reading books about dog psychology and animal behavior.

By word of mouth, Millan's popularity continued to grow, and he was able to fund his own Dog Psychology Center, a two-acre facility in South Los Angeles with six employees, whose purpose is to rehabilitate dogs. Millan is president of his own company, Cesar Millan, Inc. He is also a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals. Millan now is a U.S. citizen.

For more on Cesar Milan, click here.

October 20, 2008 | Permalink

Sukhee Kang (Korea)

Sukhee_kang Sukhee Kang, born in Korea, was just elected the mayor of Irvine, California. On Tuesday, Irvine voters elected the city's first nonwhite mayor. Accpording to the LA Times, "Sukhee Kang, a Korean immigrant and city councilman, credits his success to knocking on 10,000 doors, building up his credibility through two City Council terms and amassing a multiethnic coalition of voters."

Kang immigrated to Orange County at age 24.  He was elected to the Irvine City Council in 2004 and won re-election in 2006.

Born and raised in South Korea, Sukhee and his wife Joanne came to the United States in 1977 after his graduation from Korea University in Seoul. Sukhee Kang began his professional career with Circuit City Stores sales and customer service. He was promoted to senior management positions and earned recognition for his service oriented philosophy. His efforts on behalf of the Korean American community, including his past service as Chairman of the Korean American Coalition Orange County and President of the Korean American Education Scholarship Foundation, provided an introduction to community leadership that would ultimately inspire Sukhee to run for the Irvine City Council.

Active throughout the Irvine community, Sukhee Kang has forged strong and supportive relationships with the business community, the education community and the many cultural, service and non-profit organizations that serve the citizens of Irvine.

Prior to his service on the Irvine City Council, Sukhee Kang served as a Governor’s appointee on the California Workforce Investment Board and was the Mayor’s appointee to the Irvine Finance Commission. As a City Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem, Sukhee served as a member of the Orange County Great Park Board, Orange County Sanitation District Board, Transportation Corridor Agency Board, Executive Steering Committee of the League of California Cities Orange County Division, and Orange County Transportation Authority Measure M Super Committee.

November 11, 2008 | Permalink

Frank Gehry (Canada)

15 The architect Frank Gehry, born in Toronto, is our Immigrant of the Day.  He is a now a dual US-Canada citizen.

Frank Owen Gehry CC (born Ephraim Owen Goldberg, February 28, 1929) is a Pritzker Prize-winning architect based in Los Angeles. His buildings, including his private residence, have become tourist attractions. Many museums, companies, and cities seek Gehry's services as a badge of distinction. His best-known works include the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (see photo above), Experience Music Project in Seattle, Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Dancing House in Prague, Czech Republic, and his private residence in Santa Monica, California.  His latest project -- the renovation of the Art Gallery of Ontario -- is discussed in this N.Y. Times article.

Gehry was born in Toronto, Ontario. In 1947 Gehry moved to California, got a job driving a delivery truck, and studied at Los Angeles City College and eventually graduated from University of Southern California's School of Architecture. He studied city planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design for a year, leaving before completing the program. Gehry is a Distinguished Professor of Architecture at Columbia University and also teaches at Yale University.

November 17, 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.