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Immigrants Of The Week: Maye Saephanh, Marcelino Garcia, Camille Nelson

by Kevin R. Johnson

Immigrant of the Day: Maye Saephanh (Thailand)

Photo Courtesy of Autumn Cruz, Sacramento Bee

 Born in a Thai refugee camp and raised in a Sacramento housing project, Maye Saephanh has provided humanitarian aid in East Timor, Thailand, and Haiti. Next month, she will go to Afghanistan with the U.S. Agency for International Development, working to stabilize war-torn communities. Saephanh's family fled communism in Southeast Asia and she was born in a refugee camp in Thailand. The family resettled in the Bay Area when she was 5 and later moved to Sacramento. By age 9, at the Wellspring Women's Center in Oak Park, Maye was translating for many of the Mien refugees. She attended Loretto High School and went on to UC Santa Barbara on full scholarship.

Immigrant of the Day: Marcelino "Chelino" Garcia (Mexico)

As a teen, Marcelino “Chelino” Garcia
entered the United States illegally twice. The first time, he walked nearly 200 miles from Tecate a border town in Baja California, Mexico, to Los Angeles, a trek that took eight days. But after three years, he went back to Mexico. The second time, he swam across the Rio Grande River from Acuña, Mexico, to Eagle Pass, Texas, with several other boys. They were then driven to Dallas in the trunk of a car. That time, he stayed.

Garcia, now 46, is a legal U.S. citizen and a highly successful entrepreneur at the forefront of the Oklahoma City area Hispanic community. He is the founder of the Chelinos Mexican Restaurant chain, which operates 11 restaurants and several other businesses. He is a source of inspiration for immigrants young and old.

Garcia grew up in the city of Calvillo in Aguascalientes, Mexico. He came to the United States for the first time in 1979.

Immigrant of the Day: Camille Nelson (Jamaica)

Born in Jamaica, Camille Nelson, who has been named the new dean of Suffolk University Law School in Boston, Massachusetts, is our Immigrant of the Day.  An accomplished amd imfluential scholar, Camille, who I am lucky to count among my friends, will be the first woman and first person of color to be dean of Suffolk, which is a law school that really is on the move.

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.