FOREVER WELCOME Presents 'Fairness & Belonging: Discussing the State of the American Immigration System'

The event is on Thursday, March 9.

By: Feb. 24, 2023
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FOREVER WELCOME Presents 'Fairness & Belonging: Discussing the State of the American Immigration System'

The U.S. Immigration system is broken, and among those greatly impact are highly skilled workers - both individuals and families - who are stuck in it.

How do we fix it?

On Thursday, March 9, join the nonprofit organization Forever Welcome for a special event - "Fairness & Belonging: Discussing the State of the American Immigration System" - including the World Premiere of the documentary film "Alien" followed by a panel discussion and community Q&A. This important evening will take place at the Glenwood Arts Theatre, 3707 W. 95th St., Overland Park, Kansas. Check-in begins at 5:30 p.m. with the film screening promptly scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. followed by the panel discussion.

Sponsored by Forever Welcome in partnership with Welcoming KC, a program of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, the March 9 event is free, but registration is requested at ForeverWelcome.org.

Forever Welcome's mission is advancing the American Dream by fostering welcoming and inclusive communities through awareness, advocacy and action.

'Welcoming KC and Forever Welcome are perfectly aligned to make Kansas City a place where everyone feels at home. That's why we proudly partner and support their work," said Greg Valdovino, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the chamber. "This film is important for those that are personally impacted by the current immigration system but equally important, it's also important to those that want to understand how they can help and support our new neighbors."

Nationally syndicated columnist Mary Sanchez will serve as panel facilitator. A native Kansas Citian, Sanchez is a senior reporter for Kansas City-PBS/Flatland and a past columnist for The Kansas City Star and a member of its editorial board. Sanchez has spent years reporting on race, class, criminal justice and educational issues.

The film "Alien" exposes the human toll of America's dependence on high-skilled legal immigrants and how the Indian ​immigrant community bears the heaviest burden. The film intimately follows five Indian high-skilled immigrants ​and their families - including Forever Welcome Founder Sunayana Dumala - as they build lives and families in this country in an uphill battle toward their American Dream.

"The U.S. media's focus on undocumented immigrants means that many Americans know little about legal high-skilled immigrants** and their inhumane battles," Latay said. "My film seeks to spark and contribute to public discourse on this overlooked issue and contribute to meaningful policy reform."

The evening's panel includes three people who have walked the immigration tight rope:

  • Sunayana Dumala, originally from India and founder of Forever Welcome. Dumala's own immigration status was thrown into flux following the 2017 hate-crime murder of her husband Srinivas Kuchibhotla at Austin's Grille in Olathe. Dumala is one of the immigrant stories presented in the film "Alien" and the premiere coincides with what would have been Srinu's 39th birthday.

  • Vidyut Latay, originally from India and an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Her debut groundbreaking film, "Beyond Silence" screened twice on PBS and is one of the first documentary films about deaf people in India.

  • Rekha Sharma-Crawford, a nationally recognized immigration attorney based in Kansas City. She represents clients across the country. She is also the author of "Alaliyah the Brave," following the emotions of a child going through immigration enforcement and its aftermath.

The evening's purpose is to reflect upon the current state of the U.S. immigration system and, as a community, to engage in necessary healthy dialogue around one of the most critical and challenging issues facing us. The Immigration and Nationality Act enacted in 1965 was the last time the U.S. passed significant immigration reform. The landmark change paved the way for today's immigration system, providing an opportunity for every immigrant to fulfill their American Dream.

It is no secret that America needs comprehensive immigration reform. Missing from many public debates is how highly skilled workers, who are often exploited and demeaned, fit into comprehensive immigration reform. Through the national release of "Alien", it is hoped that will change.

"Six years ago, when tragedy knocked on my door, I received overwhelming support from all corners that made me believe this is indeed my home," Dumala said. "Today, I'm able to stand up, continue to fulfill those dreams perhaps with a new purpose and mission. By bringing this film to Kansas City, I hope we can move the conversation into action for change."



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