Category: Immigration Hero

Female Afghan Pilot Seeks Asylum U.S.

The Afghan Air Force’s first female fixed-wing pilot, Capt. Niloofar Rahmani, filed a petition seeking asylum in the United States this past summer. In 2015, the State Department honored her with its annual Women of Courage award, recognizing the bravery displayed throughout her career in flying despite threats from the Taliban and “even members of her own extended family,” added first lady Michelle Obama.

Despite leaving the Afghan Air Force, Captain Rahmani still wants to be a military pilot, and for this reason she hopes to eventually join the United States Air Force. In interviews, she explained her reasons for the decision. She explained that throughout her childhood and teenage years, she was inspired by America’s goal of emancipating Afghan women, shown through the Bush administration’s pursuit of women’s rights in a country where they were scarce.

Captain Rahmani always dreamed of being a pilot and finally joined the Air Force with the support of her parents. The American government hailed her as an example of a bright spot in the effort to rebuild the Afghan Air Force, which costed the American taxpayers over $3 billion. Things went south for Captain Rahmani when photos of her in combat gear were published in the press and her relatives began receiving death threats. She began to feel unsafe at work because of the male colleagues that held her in contempt.

Furthermore, after she began training programs in the United States, the Afghan Air Force stopped paying her salary. This asylum petitions is one of Captain Rahmani’s only options and she feels nervous with it pending as President-elect Donald Trump takes office. She fears his vows to bar Muslims from entering the United States but has hope because she has always seen the country as a place where women can aspire to accomplish great things.

 

Me and Gary Vee

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If you haven’t heard of Gary Vaynerchuk, you probably will in the near future.

Gary and his family fled the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s. Their family was allowed to exit the Communist homeland and come to the United States as refugees in a complicated barter between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The U.S. sent wheat to their Communist enemy and the Soviets allowed people being persecuted based on their religion to seek refuge in America.

Gary’s family settled in New Jersey. His father got a job sweeping floors and stocking inventory at a wine store. Gary’s dad eventually became the owner of a wine store.

While Gary’s dad worked at the wine shop, his son learned to hustle. As a teenager, he bought and sold baseball cards and made hundreds of dollars a week.

When Gary went to college in the mid-1990s, he stumbled across the internet and immediately saw its potential. He convinced his father to spend $15,000 to help Gary build a tv studio in the basement of the wine store.

Gary started making YouTube videos about wine. He called it Wine Library. He would make a new YouTube video every week talking about wine, the culture of wine, matching wines to food and the wine industry in general.

For the first two years, his dad’s store sold $2,000 worth of wine – total. His dad was angry. At this point, Gary started infusing the YouTube videos with more of his passion, his personality and his energy. The show took off.

His dad’s wine store went from selling $3 million worth of wine to $60 million worth of wine.

Gary shot 1,000 YouTube videos for WineLibrary. Then, he stopped.

He eventually started his own media and branding company. He has authored three fantastic books – Crush It, The Thank You Economy and Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook. I have read all of them and they contain tons of great advice on social media, building a business and the future of technology.

Gary now has a new regular YouTube show called #askGaryVee. He is worth millions and millions of dollars. His eventual goal is to purchase the New York Jets.

When people badmouth immigrants or claim that we should close our borders to refugees, I often use Gary Vee as Exhibit # 1 of the kind of quality people that we would never know and whose brilliance would have been lost if we hadn’t given them the opportunity of an open door.

Last week, I was lucky enough to hear Gary speak first hand. Afterwards, I was able to get my picture taken with him and it was pretty darn cool.

Immigrant Whiz Saves Boy on a Plane

Donald Trump and others of his ilk would have you believe that immigrants are criminals, deviants and thugs.  Fox News has gotten much mileage vilifying immigrants on a regular basis.

So you may not have heard the story of Dr. Khurshid Guru last week.  Guru is an Indian American and the Director of Robotic Surgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in New York.

During a recent flight from Spain to the U.S., a 2-year old toddler suffered an asthma attack, requiring medication.  However, his parents had mistakenly included the treatment in their checked luggage.

The plane only had an adult inhaler, so Dr. Guru grabbed materials on the plane – a plastic water bottle, a cup, some tape and an oxygen tank – and built the boy a nebulizer.  The contraption allowed the boy to take in both oxygen and the asthma medicine simultaneously.   After a few minutes, the boy’s oxygen level was normal in just a few minutes.

Our office deals with immigrants every single day and we see the positive contributions that the vast majority of them are making.  This story is just one example (albeit very dramatic) of how allowing smart immigrants like Dr. Guru into the country can really help Americans – even 2-year old boys who simply can’t catch their breath.