There’s more to home than where shoes come off and soup simmers. There’s the homeland – the place, the memory, the heritage – and the multiple meanings it has for immigrants.
The five of us gather around the coffee table in the living room. On a folding, glass table between Haydar and Ali there’s a laptop. The web cam is looking out at the dinner party to show Ali’s brother in Yemen the meal we are sharing.
His name is Yeshar, he is an Iraqi Kurd from Baghdad and he said he faces sure death if he has to go home.
Older Lithuanian immigrants in the Chicago area cling to memories of Soviet-era health care, in which herbal remedies and paying off doctors to ensure adequate care were common practice. Doctors often have difficulty gaining the trust of patients and persuading them to switch from outmoded and even dangerous remedies to modern pharmaceuticals.
Smalcerz chose to answer my questions in English, but his native language is Polish. His first answer is so fragmented that I can’t understand it.
The possibility of being targeted by extremists caused Alrais to become paranoid about his surroundings. He said he would keep looking in car mirrors to make sure no one was following him. “When the beheadings started in Iraq, I quit,” Alrais said.
Marie’s lawyer Bjorn Harsanyi says there is something “fundamentally wrong” with returning her to Haiti, the “rape capital of the western hemisphere.” But fundamentally wrong is not the Immigration and Refugee Board standard.
“Americans don’t have a standard set of morals,” my mother would say. “They don’t eat right, they take advantage of each other and they don’t know God.”
The after effects of Chernobyl are still felt by Jacob Zakon, who immigrated to the United States from Kiev in 1989. He does not hesitate to make the connection between his health problems and his exposure to nuclear radiation 25 years ago when he worked as an emergency liquidator after the Chernobyl explosion on April 26, 1986.
As Indian Americans are becoming one of the nation’s wealthiest immigrant groups, many within the community are shifting party alliance from the Democratic to Republican party. And although Indian Americans are relatively few in number, they find they can affect political change through fundraising.
No matter where they were from or where they were going, immigrants all came to know Ellis Island as the “Gateway to America.”