Undocumented Hamilton College Grad Shares Her Immigration Story
An amazing, emotional story of a 15 year old girl who was orphaned, undocumented and stateless was the topic on Keeler Friday morning. Martine Kalaw spoke at her alma mater, Hamilton College, on Thursday on the topic of U.S. immigration policy and her unbelievable life story.
Kalaw, a 2003 graduate of Hamilton College was 4 years old when she legally came from Africa to the United States with her mom in 1985. Eleven years later, her mother, step-father and biological father had died and she was about to face deportation. Neither Zambia nor the Congo would recognize her and without any parental guidance, she was possibly facing the outcome of spending the rest of her life in a detention camp. Luckily for Kalaw, she was rescued by a federal judge and his wife who supported her by sending her to prep school and later to college. During that time, she was forced to endure a 7 year battle for her life that finally resulted in obtaining a green card and ultimately U.S. citizenship.
Today, Kalaw is an author, speaker and survivor, and an advocate for immigration reform and humanizing immigrants. Speaking at Hamilton College was a highlight for her. "Coming back to lead a workshop on immigration at my alma mater is an example of my story coming full circle. My immigration saga started while I was a student at Hamilton and the community stood up for me then and claimed me as a Hamilton College citizen, as I struggled for my U.S. citizenship. Even after fifteen years, they continue to support me and nurture my growth."
Kalaw's book is entitled, “Immigrant Among Us” and is currently available for pre-order prior to its November release. She's working as an author and speaker in an effort to humanize immigrants and ultimately reform U.S. immigration policy. She's now President of Martine Kalaw Enterprises and provides immigration and organizational consulting to corporations and is a featured speaker on immigration reform.
Listen to her two-part interview on the Keeler Show below, including her emotional connection to Senator John McCain, who recently passed away.