For Immediate Release: April 27, 2010
Contact: Hemi Kim, NAKASEC, 202-339-9318
US Olympian Simon Cho Cites Own Experience to Call for Immigration Reform
Met with Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
(Washington, DC) Today, on April 27, 2010, Simon Cho, US Olympian for short track speed skating and the winner of a bronze medal for 5000m men’s relay spoke about his immigration experience. During a press conference organized by the National Korean American Service & Education Consortium (NAKASEC), in a packed room, Simon talked about his memories of crossing the border with his mother at the age of four as undocumented immigrants. Following the press conference, Simon and staff of NAKASEC held face to face meetings with Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) to convey the need for immigration reform in 2010.
After a few years in Chicago, Simon’s family settled near Upper Marlboro, Maryland. While his parents worked long hours running a small seafood takeout shop, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, Simon devoted much of his time to speed skating. After graduation from junior high school, his parents sold their business in order to send Simon to Salt Lake City where he could practice full time with the US Olympic team. With Shani Davis and Apollo Anton Ohno as his mentors, at the age of 18, Simon was the youngest member of the US Olympic speed skating team.
Having achieved what he once thought was unachievable, Simon shared his belief that his work was not done. Today’s event was held because Simon understood the important impact he could have in supporting changes to the immigration system. He expressed concerns about the increasing hardships new immigrants are facing and his belief that America would benefit more from becoming a welcoming nation.
In particular, he hoped his story would encourage young immigrants, especially undocumented youth to continue pursuing their dreams. As he said it: “My parents left for work before I woke up and came back home after I went to sleep. We had financial difficulties and there were times when we had no water or electricity for a few days because we weren’t able to pay the bills. Other daily activities that others take for granted such as having a drivers’ license was difficult for my father. “ Yet, when a reporter asked whether he ever thought of going back to Korea. He answered, “No, America is my home.”
Simon’s story of hardship and struggle is the everyday story of immigrants across this country but one that is rarely told. He serves as a reminder of what America gains when it welcomes new immigrants and why immigration reform is urgently needed.
NAKASEC thanks Simon sincerely for the time he put aside for us today and as he promised to reporters, he’ll be back to continue advocating for changes to our nation’s immigration laws.
US Olympian Simon Cho speaks with national Korean American media about his immigrant family’s experience and his support for immigration reform.
Press Event with Ali Noorani, Simon Cho, and EunSook Lee.
Simon Cho meets Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL). Photo Courtesy US Senator Dick Durbin.
Simon Cho engages in discussion with Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).
Simon Cho meets Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). Courtesy US Senator Dick Durbin.
Senator Durbin (D-IL) with Simon Cho & NAKASEC staff.
NAKASEC is a national organization founded in 1994 by local Korean American community organizations to project a national progressive voice and promote the full civic participation of Korean Americans as part of a greater goal of building a national movement for social change. NAKASEC is a member of the Reform Immigration FOR America coalition.