Web Site Challenges Immigration Stereotypes


When Los Angeles immigration attorney Carl Shusterman was considering opening a Web page devoted to immigration issues, he realized immediately that he faced a significant hurdle.

Reading about immigration regulations is almost as much fun as watching paint dry.

So Mr. Shusterman decided to spice up his Web site with history, trivia, and factoids, including what he bills as an immigration IQ test.

The questions relate to famous Americans who, it turns out, either aren't Americans or weren't always Americans.

A sample question: They are among America's most respected newscasters. Guess who's the immigrant?

A. Peter Jennings

B. Ted Koppel

C. Robert MacNeil

D. Morley Safer

Another sample: They are leading lights of the fashion world. Guess who's the immigrant?

A. Liz Claiborne

B. Calvin Klein

C. Tommy Hilfiger

Shusterman admits that his little quiz is about more than just entertaining those who stop in at his web page or read his electronic newsletter. The point of the exercise is that America wouldn't quite be America had our forefathers closed the borders and barred anyone else from immigrating.

The former Immigration and Naturalization Service attorney, who has been practicing law for 21 years, says he is dismayed by an increasingly anti-immigrant mood in the country.

"I'd like to break down the us and them mentality," Shusterman says. "I want people to know that the 'them' is really us."

Anyone interested in completing Shusterman's entire 10-question test can find it on his Web page at www.shuster-man.com.

He says whoever achieves a perfect score will qualify for a free consultation on any pending immigration matter.

Shusterman is one of 200 immigration lawyers on the Internet. But Shusterman's Web site is unique. In addition to his quiz and his newsletter analyzing changes in immigration law, the site includes copies of INS forms and easy-to-read instructions on how to obtain various kinds of visas. (It is a service that even the INS has yet to provide.)

He says in early June, 24,000 people visited his Web site in a single day.

As for his immigration IQ test, his question about the newscasters is a trick. All four men are Canadians.

And among fashion designers, Liz Claiborne is the immigrant. She was born in Belgium.

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