My parents just returned from a trip to New York and showed me all their pictures. Though I used to live in New York, I was really captivated by their photos of the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island. Maybe it’s because I started practicing immigration law or because my husband is now going through the process of becoming a citizen. Anyway, the images moved me more than I would have thought they would since I’m normally a grumpy cynic. So anyway, in no particular order, here are my favorite immigrant stories.
1. Bend it Like Beckham. I love this movie. I get all emotional when Jess’s dad talks about how he felt when people in England made fun of his Turban and how he let himself suffer from it and then again when he plays cricket with Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Though the anti-Arab/anti-Muslim tones in this movie really upset me.
2. My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Similar to Bend it Like Beckham but more hilarious.
3. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka. I really liked how this book explained the relationship between the two sisters–war baby and peace baby–and how each sister came to be.
4. Einstein’s story.
When I studied immigration law, we would learn about the different visas for smart people and my professor would say “this is the visa for people like Einstein.” And I would get so frustrated! He sought asylum in the US. Yes, he probably would have gotten the smart person visa, but I just think it’s so important to remember that refugees or people who benefit from the humanitarian side of immigration laws rather than the business or economic side can be educated people who can contribute to society.
[edit, way to bring everything full circle. The man who invented the birth control pill? Also a refugee.]
5. My husband’s aunt’s story. She wrote a memoir, but it’s in Farsi. So I’ll have to wait for her niece to translate it into Hebrew and then for my husband to translate it into English for me to read it. She has an amazing story that I only know part of about escaping Iran after the revolution. Apparently she and her husband were in an Iranian prison for a few years for forging passports to help other people escape. They managed to convince the authorities they were Muslims and not Zionists and were able to escape to Israel. I’m dying to know more but can’t ask “so, tell me about Iranian prison. What was the food like?”