Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Home / News / Immigration / Ithaca attorney-professor contributes to book

Ithaca attorney-professor contributes to book

Ithaca attorney and professor Stephen Yale-Loehr contributed to the book “Green Card Stories.” Courtesy of the authors

America no longer opens its arms blindly to welcome the immigrant masses. No matter how qualified they may be, not everyone receives a green card. But those who do make it through the lengthy bureaucratic maze and emotionally challenging process have compelling stories to tell.

With help from their colleagues and advocates around the country, immigration attorneys Stephen Yale-Loehr and Laura Danielson have for several years been examining the experiences of immigrants who were successful in obtaining citizenship or permanent residence.

The result is the profiles and pictures of 50 successful immigrants in “Green Card Stories,” published by Umbrage Editions. The collaborative effort included Yale-Loehr, an Ithaca immigration attorney and Cornell Law School adjunct professor, along with his colleague, Minnesota-based immigration attorney Laura Danielson, journalist Saundra Amrhein and photographer Ariana Lindquist.

“‘Green Card Stories’ purpose is to capture the true diversity and impact of today’s immigrant America, showing how richly nuanced a society we have become through immigration,” Yale-Loehr and Danielson said in their introduction.

Both have collaborated before in writing “Immigration Law and Practice in a Nutshell,” but these stories of sacrifice, hope, pride and success are meant to appeal to the heart more than a textbook can.

Stephen Yale-Loeher

“It’s intended for the lay public to hear interesting stories about these people and to educate the public about what they had to do. Another part of the book is more policy oriented to show how they contribute in a variety of ways,” Yale-Loehr said from the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in Nashville on Friday.

“The irony is that despite how difficult we’ve made it for individuals to legally immigrate to the United States, nearly all economic indicators point to America’s need for increased immigration.”

The authors intended to include the experiences of people from cultures from all corners of the world to convey the diversity of immigration experience and to show the variety of cities and towns across America they have settled in. Among the stories is that of Saah Quigee from Liberia, now a librarian and supervisor at Cornell’s Africana library in Ithaca.

Quigee was fortunate to survive civil war-torn Liberia, and the torture he was subjected to from warlord Charles Taylor’s forces. He became a U.S. citizen last year.

Quigee and his family’s presence in Ithaca isn’t unusual given the fact that immigrants no longer settle primarily in border towns near traditional points of entry, Yale-Loehr explained.

Yale-Loehr represented Quigee pro bono in his asylum case.

Saah Quigee, originally from Liberia, is now a librarian and supervisor at Cornell’s Africana library in Ithaca. His story is featured in the book “Green Card Stories,” co-authored by Ithaca attorney/professor Stephen Yale-Loehr. Courtesy of the authors

The book offers a glimpse of who today’s new American immigrants really are and why they are still needed — they create patents, start successful businesses such as Yahoo and add skilled and unskilled labor.

The predominantly European immigrants of yesterday have largely been replaced by immigrants from Asia, Africa and Latin America today.

“We have been closing the door and hanging up a ‘not welcome’ sign just when we need immigrants the most,” Yale-Loehr and Danielson said.

Many of the immigrants profiled would not even be eligible for green card status today due to tough zero tolerance immigration laws, the authors explained.

Regarding the anticipated U.S. Supreme Court decision on Arizona’s immigration law, Yale-Loehr said he expects the court to issue a fractured opinion, upholding part of the state’s law and striking part of it, resulting in more states and cities creating their own laws.

“I think as a general matter, immigration is a federal policy not a state policy just as we have only one foreign relations policy,” he said. “It affects our sovereignty because Congress failed to enact immigration reform.”