“We Were Strangers Too”: Silicon Valley Celebrates #ImmigrantHeritageMonth

“We Were Strangers Too”: Silicon Valley Celebrates #ImmigrantHeritageMonth

By: Sophie Alcorn

June is Immigrant Heritage Month and the Silicon Valley Chapter of FWD.us came together to celebrate the contributions of immigrants to American society.  We got together in the South Bay, at Deutsche Bank Labs in Palo Alto to mix, mingle, and share stories.

We heard Emerson’s story. Originally from Peru, he came to the U.S. to study and eventually founded his own startup. It had great success, but his work authorization was running out.  Finally, he was able to get an O-1 visa as an individual with extraordinary talent, but even that had a time limit.  Emerson was awaiting his turn to get a family-based green card, and he didn’t feel safe leaving the U.S.  Then he found out his grandma was dying of terminal cancer.  Luckily, his green card interview happened soon after that, and he was able to receive an I-551 stamp in his passport that day, which allowed him to travel to Peru and say goodbye to her.

We also heard from Isabel, who came to the U.S. undocumented in the 1980s and graduated from an American college.  Though her parents went back to Mexico in 1999, Isabel couldn’t leave because she would be subject to the 10-year bar and would not be allowed to return.  She lived with the daily anxiety and fear of being deported and separated from her husband and young children.  She was too old for DACA, but luckily was able to obtain an I-601 waiver based on extreme hardship to her U.S. citizen spouse. At last, she was able to get a green card.  Now she’s not afraid of seeing the police or ICE officers anymore. However, Isabel wants the public to know, “We’re hard working people, we just need to find what you’re ancestors did, in search of the American dream.”

We saw amazing original art from the Creative Action Network in a show, called “We Were Strangers Too.”  Each piece depicts a pivotal moment in the story of a refugee’s life.

Finally, we all had created our own #IAmAnImmigrant memes.  Check them out!

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