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Immigrants Of The Week: Kiki Vo, Samuel Dalembert, and Ingacia Moya

by Kevin R. Johnson

Immigrant of the Day: Kiki Vo (Viet Nam)

Especially in these times, it was nice to read an inspirational story about an immigrant in my local paper, the Sacramento Bee.  Kiki Vo has endured and is pursuing nothing less than the American Dream . She excels in high school in Sacramento and has been accepted to the University of California, Berkeley (GO BEARS!), and honored by local organizations for her volunteer work.

Vo, 18, was badly burned in a house fire that killed her mother and scarred two of her sisters nine years ago in Vietnam. Vo and two of her sisters needed extensive medical care for their burns, care that was too costly in Vietnam. A nonprofit organization paid for her father, Chu Vo, to take three of his daughters to a Shriners hospital in Boston. Chu and three of his daughters moved to Sacramento in 2004 to be seen at Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California. Thuong, 12, Nhi, 17, and Kiki would undergo more than 60 surgeries, which Shriners hospital provided at no cost.

Chu, who worked long hours doing odd jobs like landscaping, stressed to his daughters the need to focus on their education. He tucked away as much money as he could so he could send the girls to college.  Then Chu Vo got sick. He died Nov. 10.

The Vo sisters were split up among two families. Nhu, Thuong and Nhan live in Elk Grove and Kiki and Nhi live in Rosemont. Kiki, Nhi and Nhan all attend West Campus. The five girls see each other on Sundays at church. They live off donations of food, clothes and money.

UC Berkeley is Kiki Vo's dream Two firefighters in Martinez agreed to take in the girls. They can be together under one roof again this summer. Kiki is hoping she will be living nearby in Berkeley while attending Cal.

Immigrant of the Day: Samuel Dalembert (Haiti)



Born in Haiti, Sacramento Kings' player Samuel Dalembert is our Immigrant of the Day.  Dalembert recently received the Human Spirit Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The award is presented to those who have honored the game of basketball by virtue of their personal growth and life-long accomplishments. Dalembert was recognized for his charitable work in his native Haiti. Dalembert is the UNICEF national ambassador for Haiti and has donated more than $125,000 for relief efforts following January's earthquake. Dalembert started the Samuel Dalembert Foundation in 2007, which looks to improve the quality of life in Haiti. Dalembert is also an active in the NBA Cares program and has worked with Basketball Without Borders.

Immigrant of the Day: Ingacia Moya (Mexico) -- A Naturalized U.S. Citizen at 106!

140px-Nancy_Reagan_reopens_Statue_of_Liberty_1986 Elderly-woman-250x250 Courtesy

Here is a real immigrant success storyIngacia Moya, frail, blind and with bad hearing at 106 years old, went through naturalization ceremonies in Chicago on Monday and became a U.S. citizen.  Moya had been a legal resident of the United States since moving here almost 40 years ago from Mexico.  In 1986, she studied for the citizenship exam but failed as she lost her sight and hearing.  Rep. Luis Gutiérrez assisted her with obtaining a medical waiver.  Moya's wants the opportunity to vote in November.  "When asked how she felt, Moya said `muy bien!'"

There appear to be only two or three other people who were older than Moya when they became U.S. citizens. The oldest was a 117-year-old woman from Turkey.

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.