Immigrant stories spin web

As a small girl I would often sit by my father, enthralled with his sto­ries of the “Old Coun­try.” With the skill of an old Irish shanachie, or story teller, he would weave his tales of giants and mere men, often choos­ing lore with a para­ble as its plot and res­o­lu­tion. I still recall his story of the man who couldn’t stop gam­bling — until he real­ized he had gam­bled his soul away to the devil in a card game he was enticed into on a Sunday.

As an adult, I found myself telling the sto­ries of immi­grants, first as a news­pa­per reporter and later as an edi­tor. Unlike my Dad, I couldn’t tell tall tales or weave para­bles into the yarns. Too often, these sto­ries con­cerned immi­grants so des­per­ate to live here that they threw cau­tion to the wind and over­stayed their wel­come. Some were soon set upon by greedy bosses or land­lords, who payed too lit­tle and extracted too much from those forced to live under the radar.

Notwith­stand­ing the pop­u­lar image of jour­nal­ists as cold, uncar­ing ped­dlers of pain, more than one reporter was so moved by the plight of poor immi­grants that he or she tried to help them. It is because of one of those reporters that I am able to write this blog today.

These days Natalia Muñoz is head of Ver­dant Mul­ti­cul­tural Media, a com­pany designed to reach and serve diverse com­mu­ni­ties. One of her many skills is design­ing web sites. She helped me to launch this delib­er­ately sim­ple, even rudi­men­tary, one.

I don’t believe in bells and whis­tles. I believe in plain talk and action.

While this site is hardly typ­i­cal of the dynamic elec­tronic por­tals she has cre­ated, it is a con­tin­u­a­tion of sorts of her efforts to help immi­grants. That’s because these days I am telling the sto­ries of immi­grants in another way. As a lawyer, I am help­ing them to present their case for per­ma­nent res­i­dence here by telling their sto­ries to immi­gra­tion offi­cers.  The law helps to fill in the blanks of who is deserv­ing and who is not.

As some­one who seemed to single-handedly adopt a needy Guatemalan fam­ily after she told news­pa­per read­ers their story, Natalia is no doubt remem­ber­ing the sto­ries she heard in her mother’s arms in her native Puerto Rico. It is a story par­ents around the world tell in many dif­fer­ent languages.

If we can, we should leave the world a bet­ter place than when we found it.

To learn more about Natalia’s com­pany, visit her web site at

Oh, and if you need help with an immi­gra­tion peti­tion, feel free to call on me.

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