Forty-eight community members came to the Armstrong School Building on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a community conversation about coming to America.

The evening was organized by the newly formed organization Uniting Cultures who as part of a grant from The Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation decided that they would hold a community conversation about what it takes to come to America.

Before the conversation began St. James native and ACLU Racial Justice Coordinator for the ACLU of Minnesota Julio Zelaya gave a brief presentation about the legal process of becoming a citizen or other legal status in the U.S.

Sharing their stories about coming to America was Joaquin Romero, Mirna Campo, and Silvia Solorzano. Romero’s journey began when he came to America after being brought here from the Civil War in El Salvador where he received an asylum. Romero also talked about how he was eventually able to bring over his sisters and other family members to America including his sister Marta who is Zelaya’s Mother.

Solorzano’s story is slightly different than Romero’s although they are both from El Salvador. Solorzano’s father originally came to America when she was a child and lived there for many years before he was able to bring his family to America including his wife and children as legal residents. Solorzano fighting back tears said that it was tough being away from her father for that long but feels very fortunate that her and her family were able to eventually make it to the United States. Sharing the story about their daughter-in-law's journey was Sue Mohr, who read the story written by her daughter in law who lives in California. Mohr said that her daughter in law is a legal permanent resident but has also applied to become a citizen multiple times but hasn’t been able to become one due to things like her application being lost. Mohr said that although her daughter in law has lived in the country since she has been a child and even graduated from Medical School from Stanford she is still only a legal permanent resident while her husband is a Citizen and her daughter is a dual Citizen.

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