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Immigrants Of The Day: Valentino Achak Deng of Sudan, Rosika Schwimmer of Austria Hungary, and Arthur Mkoyan of Armenia

by Kevin R. Johnson

Valentino Achak Deng (Sudan)

200pxwhatisthewhatbook Valentino Achak Deng is a Sudanese Lost Boy whose story is told in novel form in What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng by Dave Eggers. Deng discusses the novel at here.

Valentino Achak Deng was seven or eight years old when he fled the civil-war stricken Sudan. He walked to Ethiopia with 30,000 children but was forced to flee again to a refugee camp in Kenya, one of only 10,000 children to survive the journey. In Kenya, Valentino attended high school and worked with the United Nations’ youth and culture program.

Valentino was sent to the United States for resettlement in 2001, one of the last lost boys allowed out. Currently living and working in Clarkson, Georgia, Valentino Achak Deng shares an apartment with four of his lost boys “brothers.” He is a highly requested speaker at schools and colleges, churches, civic originations and religious institutions, sharing a message of character, perseverance, faith and hope. He was also featured on CNN’s Inside Africa.

Deng recently became a U.S. citizen. His activities are further detailed at his foundation website.

July 20, 2008 | Permalink

Rosika Schwimmer (Austria Hungary)

Thumbnail Rosika Schwimmer (1877-1948) was born on September 11, 1877 in Budapest, Austria-Hungary. In 1897, Schwimmer founded the Hungarian Feminist Association, helped to found Hungarian National Council of Women, later organized the first Women's Trade Union in Hungary and was a board member in the Hungarian Peace Society. In 1913 she became a corresponding secretary of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance (IWSA).

In 1914, Schwimmer moved to London and worked as a news correspondent and press secretary for the IWSA. When the World War I broke out, she could not return to home and began to agitate for the end of hostilities. In 1915, she gained the support of Henry Ford, who chartered a Ford Peace Ship to Stockholm. Schwimmer later organized the International Committee for Immediate Mediation.

After the armistice, Schwimmer became vice-president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. When Hungary gained independence from Austria-Hungary in 1918, prime minister Mihály Károlyi appointed Schwimmer to be Minister to Switzerland. When communists overthrew the government in 1919, she opposed it and lost her civil rights. In 1920, when the Hungarian government began to purge Jews, she fled to Vienna and in 1921 to the United States, settling in Chicago

Due to her pacifist beliefs, Schwimmer was labeled as a socialist in the United States. She could not gain US citizenship because of her pacifism.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against her in United States v. Schwimmer (1929). As a result, Schwimmer spent the rest of her life in the country as a stateless person.

United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644 (1929) addressed whether Rosika Schwimmer was sufficiently "attached" to American "constitutional principles" as required under the law to naturalize even though she declared in her naturalization interview that she was not willing to "take up arms personally" in defense of the United States. The Supreme Court found that she was not eligible for citizenship.  The Supreme Court overruled the Schwimmer decision in Girouard v. United States, 328 U.S. 61 (1946).

August 17, 2008 | Permalink

Arthur Mkoyan (Armenia)

Our Immigrant of the Day -- of should we say freshman of the year -- is coming to study chemistry at UC Davis.  Arthur Mkoyan, who earned a 4.0 GPA from high school in Fresno, was initially scheduled to be deported after his father's asylum claim proved unsuccessful, but a private bill (and Senator Dianne Feinstein's support) staved off that effort.  Thanks to a good Samaritan, who agreed to cover the costs of college, young Arthur will be a freshman this fall at none other than UC DAVIS!!!!!!

August 15, 2008 | Permalink

These posts were orginally posted on the ImmigrationProf Blog here, here and here.

About The Author

Kevin R. Johnson is currently Dean, Professor of Law and Chicana/o Studies, and the Mabie-Apallas Public Interest Law Chair holder at the University of California at Davis. He is also one of the editors of ImmigrationProf Blog.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.