October 28, 2021 is National Immigrants day. Immigrants make an impact in the ARM industry every day. Here are two of their stories:

Aylix Jenson- Attorney, Moss and Barnett

I was born in Cape Town, South Africa. My great-grandparents emigrated from Germany, Poland and Lithuania to South Africa and avoided the Nazi persecution. Having decided to leave Poland, my paternal great-grandfather went to the nearest port, intending to take the first available ship. There were two ships in the port at the time. One ship was going to Mexico and the other ship was going to South Africa. The ship to South Africa left first. Two generations later, my parents, older sister and I emigrated from South Africa to the United States.

We immigrated after a group claiming retaliation for United States attacks on Afghanistan bombed a New York-style deli just a few miles from our family home in Cape Town. As a child living in South Africa, I had enormous feelings of uncertainty and insecurity, and I remember feeling incredibly relieved when my parents told me we would be emigrating to the United States. 

Six weeks after we arrived in the US, 9/11 occurred. I remember the feelings of fear and insecurity were rekindled when I watched images repeatedly flashing on television of planes flying into the Twin Towers, and the collapse of the buildings. I began to wonder as a child where in the world I would ever be safe.

Rebuilding my sense of safety began when I started drawing with sidewalk chalk on the driveway of my family’s home in Rochester, Minnesota, something I could not do in South Africa due to high crime rates. My safety net expanded to learning to ride a bicycle, another activity I was unable to do in South Africa. As my world broadened and my freedom expanded, I realized that my initial fear of the similarities between what I left in South Africa and what I found in the US were unfounded. I recognized how lucky I was to be in the US and the endless opportunities that were available to me and my family.

My family was able to enter the US because both of my parents applied for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. While only a small number of applicants from around the world are successful, my mother was one of the lucky lottery winners. I do not know how many applicants filed for the visa when my parents entered the lottery, but current statistics indicate that there were 50,000 winners from a pool of more than 23.3 million applications.

In February 2008, my family and I went through the naturalization process and became citizens. June of this year marked my 20th year of living in the United States and to this day, I remain just as grateful to be a citizen.

Amir Erez - President and Owner, Cedar Financial Services

In 1987 my family immigrated to the United States. I was the middle child at 17, my sisters were 11 and 22. My father had obtained a work permit here and was employed as a mechanic experienced at repairing industrial sewing machines, while my mother worked as a seamstress. Neither of my parents spoke English, yet still made the bold decision to move our family to the United States. Our first home here was a two-bedroom apartment in “not the best neighborhood” of Los Angeles. It was so small for our family that I slept on the floor. 

Shortly after we arrived in the United States, debt collection notices directed to my aunt were being sent to our home. My aunt, however, did not live with us. Because my parents did not speak English they asked me to review the collection notices. I called the collection agency that sent them and explained that my aunt did not reside there. I thought that my call would be well-received, but instead a very aggressive collector at the agency stated that opening my aunt’s mail was a federal crime and that he would report me to “the authorities”. He immediately hung up on me. Because my citizenship application was pending at this time, I was terrified and angry thinking I had just jeopardized my opportunity to become a U.S. citizen by trying to do the right thing.

After college, I decided to open my own collection agency, Cedar Financial. I vowed that I would never allow the use of false threats or abuse to collect money at my agency. My agency would put people first. In the early days of Cedar Financial, I would travel up and down Pico Boulevard in Los Angeles, knocking on doors of merchants and offering to collect their bad checks. Eventually, we were retained by several major corporations to provide nationwide collection services. 

Today Cedar Financial is one of the largest collection agencies in the nation, celebrating 30 years of successful representation for creditors across the globe. We are incredibly proud of our track record of empowering immigrants and first-generation Americans, both as clients and co-workers. Cedar Financial understands first-hand the depth of hard work and responsibility necessary for success as a first-generation citizen of the United States, and we welcome those individuals who have successfully made the legal immigration journey as clients, friends, and co-workers.    

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