Mikhail Sebastian is a stateless man who has been living in the US for 16 years. He found himself stuck on the island of American Samoa for a little over a year because of a gap in US immigration law. The creative advocacy strategy I developed successfully helped change a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decision and Mikhail was allowed to return to the US within under two months of the distribution of this video. This strategy was aimed at a small and specific audience. While Mikhail’s story generated a number of articles and CNN’s Christiane Amanpour picked up this video, the real power of the strategy was bringing to life the struggles of one stateless person in a simple and emotionally compelling manner and connecting that story to a larger campaign, Citizens of Nowhere. While Mikhail has begun rebuilding his life in Los Angeles, the immigration reform community continues to use the Citizens of Nowhere report, webpage and this video, to put a face on an abstract and misunderstood issue with the hopes that the US Congress will adopt legislation that enables stateless individuals to apply for citizenship in the US.
June 2, 2013
Stateless in American Samoa