The Picture Show
11:00 am
Tue July 10, 2012

Told In Pictures: How 50 Immigrants Got Green Cards

Originally published on Tue July 10, 2012 1:24 pm

Close your eyes and picture an immigrant. Who do you see?

The true picture of an American immigrant is more complex than what might first come to mind. That's what photographer Ariana Lindquist and author Saundra Amrhein set out to explore in the book Green Card Stories.

It chronicles 50 recent immigrants, exploring the various ways they came to America: citizenship via lottery, asylum, family relationships, special artistic ability and, in one case, a judge's decision.

Argentine artists and Iranian actors share their stories — along with Tibetan teachers and even a Japanese Michael Jackson fan, whose dream was to dance with the King of Pop. They have all been changed by a journey, but each story is different. And to express that, Lindquist had the subjects choose how and where they wanted to be portrayed.

"As a person who has lived abroad and overseas — in Asia for almost 10 years of my life — I know what it's like to navigate a different culture," Lindquist says on the phone.

"On a deeply personal level, I could empathize with people who had come to the U.S."

She recalls being especially moved by the story of Luis de la Cruz. The 17-year-old from Mexico lived with his 12-year-old brother in a sweltering Arizona garage before being taken in by a foster family.

"In photographing him, I was asking him to revisit a difficult place. I love his story. I love his courage," says Lindquist. "You can see in the picture that he's taking ownership of his life at a young age in really, really positive ways."

You can read more "Green Card Stories" on the book's website.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.