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family based immigrationWhat may change the future of family based immigration, and immigration laws? Some industry insiders hope the answer is, at least in part, Hollywood. “Rather than conceal their identities and hide from law enforcement officials, those who came to the U.S. illegally are being asked to share their stories through videos on a website to help show what they do for the country,” USA Today reports. Big names in Hollywood, like Hiep Thi Le, a 45 year old Vietnamese-American actress who starred in Oliver Stone’s Heaven and Earth, openly support the project.

Raising Awareness And Humanizing Immigrants
Unfortunately, a large portion of Americans do not have empathy for undocumented immigrants and the often complicated immigration and naturalization process. The website and group backing the event, Define America, hopes that by “coming out” illegal immigrants will draw attention to the cause. Most importantly, organizers hope that the videos will show immigrants for what they really are: ordinary people, with real lives and real stories. For example, Cesar Millan, now of National Geographic fame and widely known as “The Dog Whisperer,” started out as an undocumented or illegal immigrant. Millan describes his time in the U.S. before he legally became a citizen to USA Today: “You might not have any papers yet, but you’re already a member of this pack, you’re already a person who produces and helps the economy of America.”

There’s Still A Long Way To Go
Immigration — and ultimately making some determinations about it — remains vitally important. To put things into perspective, 41 million immigrants were living in the U.S. as of 2012 (and that number is only growing), and the U.S. grants 1,001,715 green cards every year. What’s more, the U.S. immigration service reviews at least 6 million petitions for legal status on an annual basis. Raising awareness and taking part in these projects may ultimately help immigration law offices make better and clearer determinations about immigrant workers and family based immigration in the U.S.

Undocumented immigrants often hide, concealing their whereabouts and, importantly, their stories. Hollywood stars believe that sharing videos on Define American can help immigrants reach out to more people and push for a greater focus on immigration laws and reform.