By Attorney Elyssa Williams and Joan Lownds
Throughout our history, American immigrants have not only forged the cornerstones of our nation, but have made invaluable contributions in the arenas of science, religion, art, public service, journalism and athletics. As leaders in their fields, immigrants have discovered life-saving medical advancements, served as strong moral and humanitarian voices, and deeply enriched our culture’s unique flair. Here are some examples of our many remarkable immigrants and how they have irrevocably shaped our history. (Part One of Two)
Dr. Ho has been the most notable AIDS research pioneer in the U.S. for the past three decades. Born in Taiwan in 1952, Dr. Ho emigrated to the U.S. when he was 12, and spoke no English. Eventually, he learned the language and excelled in his studies, graduating summa cum laude from Cal Tech and earning a scholarship to the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.
As a young resident in 1981 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, he witnessed some of the first known cases of AIDS, according to his biography at Wikipedia. He began his research studies, developing “cocktails” of protease inhibitors and other antiviral drugs have brought extraordinary recoveries, with promising implications for eradicating the virus in the future.
Dr. Ho was named “Man of the Year” by Time Magazine in 1996, and President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001. He is the scientific director and chief executive officer of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, and the Irene Diamond Professor at the Rockefeller University in New York.
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez is the Archbishop of Los Angeles, the nation’s largest Catholic community, the chairman of the United States Catholic Bishops Committee on Migration, and a papal appointee to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, according to his biography at Wikipedia. He was born in Monterrey, Mexico, in 1951, and became a U.S. citizen in 1995.
As one of the leading moral voices in the American Catholic Church, Archbishop Gomez has been a strong advocate for immigration reform, saying a more humane and compassionate national policy will help us “renew our country in the image of her founding promises of universal rights.” He is the author of a notable book on the subject, “The Next America: Renewing the Soul of Our Nation.”
In 2005, Time Magazine named Archbishop Gomez one of the 25 most influential Hispanics in the U.S., and CNN also named him to their list of “Notable Hispanics” in 2007.
Mikhail Baryshnikov is considered the greatest living male dancer and one of the best ballet dancers in history. He was born in Latvia, then part of the Soviet Union, in 1948, according to his biography at Wikipedia. While on tour in Canada with the Kirov Ballet in 1974, Baryshnikov defected, requesting political asylum in Toronto.
He soon moved to the U.S., and became a highly acclaimed dancer for the American Ballet Theatre (ABT) and New York City Ballet. He went on to serve as the long time and highly regarded artistic director of ABT. He also pursued a career as a choreographer and actor, and earned an Oscar nomination for his role in the movie, “The Turning Point.” On July 3, 1986, Baryshnikov became a naturalized citizen of the United States.
In 2003, he won the Prix Benois de la Danse for lifetime achievement, the dance world’s highest and most prestigious accolade. In 2005, he opened the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York, an arts complex which provides production facilities for dance, music, theater, film, design and visual arts.
Madeleine Korbel Albright was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1937, according to her biography at Wikipedia. With the rise of Adolph Hitler, and the years of political turmoil that followed, her family fled to England, and then to the U.S. Albright distinguished herself as a student, and attended Wellesley College on a full scholarship. She received her master’s degree and doctorate from Columbia University’s Department of Public Law and Government, and became a U.S. citizen in 1957.
Her career highlights include serving as a staff member on the National Security Council, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic Studies, a professor at Georgetown University, and as the U.S Ambassador to the United Nations. In 1997, she was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as Secretary of State, after being nominated by President Bill Clinton. She was the first female Secretary of State in U.S. history.
After her term ended in 2001, when the Clinton administration was over, Albright received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official. Currently she is the co-chair of the Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor, and chair of the Council of Women World Leaders Women’s Ministerial Initiative. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2012.
The purpose of this blog is purely informational. It is not intended as legal advice and should not be viewed as such.