A Family Story Tells a Bigger Tale of Immigration History
In honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, our director, León Rodríguez, shares his family’s immigration story in this short video.
As he puts it, their story represents almost a textbook example of immigration history and issues. Three of his four grandparents were Sephardic (Spanish speaking) Jews from Turkey who moved to Cuba in the 1920s. Later, his maternal grandfather – who worked as a shoemaker -- devoted himself to assisting European refugees. “My mother often talks about my grandfather running out in the middle of the night actually to greet a ship that had arrived, carrying refugees who were fleeing Nazi Europe,” he says.
In the video, Director Rodríguez credits his grandfather’s work on behalf of refugees with helping to inspire his own professional interest in immigration. In fact, an immigrant advocacy group whose board his grandfather served on in the 1940s is today a partner of USCIS. “If you look at any given immigration file, every one of those files is the story of some family's hopes and dreams, and in some cases, a story of a family's sufferings,” he says. “So to be able to … lead the people that shepherd those families, for me, is the absolute professional peak.”