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Immigrants Of The Day: Ali Akbar Khan of India, Maria Martinez of El Salvador, and Daniel Guadron of Guatemala

by Kevin R. Johnson

Ali Akbar Khan

220px-Dia7275_Ali_Akbar_Khan_r Ali Akbar Khan (1922–June 18, 2009) was an Hindustani classical musician of the Maihar gharana, known for his virtuosity in playing the sarod. Khan was instrumental in popularizing Indian classical music in the West, both as a performer (often in conjunction with sitar maestro -- and brother-in-law --Ravi Shankar), and as a teacher. He established a music school in Calcutta in 1956, and the Ali Akbar College of Music in 1967, which is now located in San Rafael, California. Khan also composed several classical ragas and filmscores.

Trained as a musician and instrumentalist by his father, Khan first came to America in 1955 on the invitation of violinist Yehudi Menuhin and later settled in California.

Khan was nominated for five Grammy Awards and was accorded India's second highest civilian honor, the Padma Vibhushan, in 1989.  He also won the MacArthur Genius Grant and the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship.

 Ali Akbar Khan was born in the village of Shibpur, Comilla, in present-day Bangladesh (then East Bengal).  Soon after his birth, Khan's family returned to Maihar (in present day Madhya Pradesh, India).

Khan died last week  at the age of 87 in San Anselmo (Marin County), California. NPR had a great personal tribute, with music, this morning.  For a N.Y. Times story, click here

Hat tip to IntLawGrrl Diane Amann.

June 23, 2009 | Permalink

Maria Martinez (El Salvador)

The Caucus: The Politics and Government blog of the N.Y. Times reports on our Immigrant of the Day, Maria Martinez, who came to the United States from El Salvador six years ago to rejoin her mother, a poultry worker in rural Virginia. An undocumented immigrant scheduled for deportation on August 27, Martinez, with two former teachers, visited lawmakers in Washington D.C. to discuss immigration reform on the same day that President Obama raised the issue with congressional leaders (which Bill Hing reported on yesterday).

In 1990, an earthquake devastated El Salvador and Martinez’s parents left to find work in the United States. Her mother, Olivia, was afforded temporary protected status. In 2003, Olivia Martinez paid  smugglers to bring her daughter to the United States. Three years later, she applied for legal status for Maria. Earlier this year, she was notified that the U.S. government had denied the petition.

Maria Martinez knows that her lobbying for immigration reform probably will not help her individually.  However, her circumstances should be a reminder that any delays in immigration reform will have real consequences on real people like Maria Martinez.  Patience may often be a virtue but undue delay unquestionably is not.

June 26, 2009 | Permalink

Daniel Guadron (Guatemala)

Our Immigrant of the Day, Daniel Guardron, was detained for nearly seven months as an immigrant in high school and returned to graduate with his class.  As the AP story reports, "[h]e was born on the Fourth of July, an irony he would only appreciate later, during the dark period of his life, when liberty and freedom became far more than mere words in his high school history book."

A straight-A student, Daniel Guadron mastered English within months of emigrating from Guatemala at 13, then mastered French. "He's aced every math test he has ever taken."  He was a star athlete too. Despite the financial obstacles, he will attend a community college next year and hopes to transfer to the New Jersey Institute of Technology and study to be an engineer.

July 2, 2009 | Permalink

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.