Immigration

Immigrant Solidarity Committee to gather Oct. 1

From LA CONEXION DE WOOD COUNTY La Conexion de Wood County’s Immigrant Solidarity Committee will hold a gathering on Sunday Oct. 1 at 4 p.m. in the meeting  room of the First Presbyterian Church on South Church Street in Bowling Green. This will not be a formal meeting, but instead an opportunity to plan and share ideas about upcoming projects including a partnership with the Wood County Library to build oral histories of immigration stories, November’s event hosting Steve Tobocman of Global Detroit, and more. Light snacks and beverages will be available. (Infused water included.) La Conexion also been approached by a DACA recipient from Fostoria who is need of support in covering the $495 renewal fee and donations will be accepted on the recipient’s behalf. Donations are not required, but will be much appreciated. If more money than is needed is collected, the balance will be held to help to assist any other DACA recipients who come forward needing assistance, or to help families who need assistance in paying for legal documents such as certified birth certificates, government issues passports or IDs, or other official documents they need in order to ensure that their family can remain together. Families in need are identified by La Conexion’s services or through referrals from ABLE’s Immigrant Rights program. Those unable to attend but would like to help support this DACA recipient, can mail your donation to La Conexion directly: La Conexion P.O. Box 186 Bowling Green, OH 43402 Include a note in the memo line or include a message indicating the donation is to support DACA related fees, as well as a…

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Solidarity committee supports undocumented immigrants

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Between the words “illegal” and “undocumented” sits a gulf of misunderstanding. Reading stories on the concern and fear in the immigrant community, a number of people write: “They’re illegal.” For them that settles the matter. For those who work with and advocate for immigrants who lack the proper paperwork to continue living in a place that has become their home, that response neglects their history and day-to-day fears. Those fears are real, according to Beatriz Maya of La Conexion de Wood County. When La Conexion hosted a session with legal experts from Advocates for Basic Legal Equality in Toledo, some undocumented immigrants were unwilling to show up for fear of being identified. The meeting, though, was well attended by those who want to stand in provide the voice for their undocumented neighbors and want to work on their behalf. That Immigrant Solidarity Committee will hold an ice cream social including a silent auction Sunday, April 30 at 2 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 126 S. Church St., in Bowling Green. The event will spread awareness, discuss future plans, and raise money to help with expenses undocumented residents may have because of sudden deportations. “They are really afraid,” Maya said. “If they were afraid before, now it was just terror. They didn’t want to go to rally. We need people who can do solidarity work and be the voice of the immigrant community.” Margaret Weinberger, of Bowling Green, was one of those who attended the March session. The stories she heard about what is happening as close as Lucas County were chilling, she said….


Velasquez finds his fight for immigrant laborers to be more urgent than ever

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Toledo area has anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 undocumented immigrants. But every week, more are rounded up and shipped out from the Toledo airport, according to farm labor leader Baldemar Velasquez. “Every Tuesday morning, there are more men and women in shackles being boarded onto planes,” Velasquez said Sunday afternoon. Many are being sent back to Mexico through expedited deportations, without being allowed to see an attorney and without being given their due process, he said. “I don’t know how they are getting away with that,” Velasquez said about ICE and border patrol. “One-hundred years from now, people will look back at us like they do the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850,” when the law required escaped slaves to be returned to their owners, he said. “The fact that we are accommodating such a practice is un-American.” Velasquez grew up as a migrant farm laborer, born in Texas and traveling from field to field in the Midwest. Based on those experiences he went on to create the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, in response to the poor treatment of farm workers. That organization, celebrating its 50th anniversary, still works to achieve justice for migrant workers. Velasquez, who spoke Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church north of Bowling Green, grew up dirt poor, with a work ethic stronger than most of his white classmates, and with stamina that just didn’t quit. “You always have to finish the job,” he said. “You start that row, you’ve got to finish it. You start that field, you’ve got to finish it. When you’re a farm worker, it…


BG City Council condemns unjustified deportations

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Words matter – especially when they make up the title of an official resolution. Bowling Green City Council revisited its “welcoming and safe community” resolution Monday evening – this time with new wording and unanimous support. Though the body of the resolution had only one minor revision, the major change was the title rewritten to explain exactly what was intended. The resolution proclaims “Bowling Green as a welcoming and safe community for immigrants and condemning any discrimination, harassment or unjustified deportation of immigrant residents of Bowling Green.” “I’m very happy with the language that we have here,” said council member Daniel Gordon. Though the issue of illegal immigrant deportations is national, the city wants to take a stand, he said. “Council does not support seeing their families ripped apart.” Monday was a lesson that not only words matter, but so does communication. When the resolution first came to council last month, some members knew nothing about its intent and couldn’t discern its purpose from the title. “I found it very confusing,” council member Bob McOmber said. The vague title read as if it was intended to be an “all encompassing welcoming resolution.” So last month, when citizens in the council chambers asked that the LGBT community and people with disabilities be added to the resolution, McOmber agreed. When it came time for a vote on the original resolution, McOmber suggested that the wording be more inclusive. So the issue was tabled for further discussion. “I now know the real purpose is to do something for immigrants and refugees,” he said Monday evening….


Activists describe the heartbreak, terror of undocumented immigrants today

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   The immigration debate is about more than walls. It’s about families trapped by laws and borders that separate them. Eugenio Mollo, Jr., managing attorney with ABLE has those difficult conversations. A father of three, here without documents, telling him his mother is dying in Mexico. If he goes to see her, he’s at risk of not be able to return to his wife and American-born children. What can he do? Mollo can explain the law, but he has no good answer to give him. The client loves his family in America and yet the law poses the choice of being separated from them or comforting his mother in her dying days. He asks: What kind of heartless system is this? This is the system we have, and it is a system that has become more unforgiving since Donald Trump has moved into the White House, Mollo said. Mollo and Beatrix Maya, director general of La Conexion de Wood County, took part on a panel Developing Strategies to Mobilize Our Communities as part of STRELLA: 7th Annual Conference of Student Research on Latino/A/X and Latin American Studies. “The current climate has created an environment of fear and alarm in the community,” Maya said. “The greatest challenge we are facing in organizing the community is the fact that the community is absolutely terrified.” The Trump Administration plans to add 10,000 new border agents, and to double to 80,000 the number of people it incarcerates for immigration problems. Work place raids have increased, she said. None have occurred in Wood County, though a raid in Montpelier…


Alberto Gonzalez finds distinction close to home

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Professor Alberto Gonzalez has come a long way and not far at all. The first time Alberto Gonzalez set foot on the Bowling Green State University campus was when he and his twin brother, Gil, arrived to move into Kohl Hall. Sons of a Mexican American worker from nearby Sandusky County, they hadn’t done college visits. For them even heading 30 miles west to Bowling Green was a major move. In a way it was their generation’s migration. Their grandparents had been born in Mexico. Their parents were born in south Texas. They grew up in rural Riley Township near Fremont, and now they were attending college. Alberto Gonzalez graduated from BGSU in 1977 before continuing his graduate work in communications at Ohio State where he earned a doctorate. He ended up returning home to teach, and at its February meeting the university’s board of trustees named him a distinguished university professor. Gonzalez, who has taught at the university since 1992, was pleased with the honor for more than what it said about him. “For me it brings attention to the School of Communications and speaks to the quality of work, the quality of research done in this school,” he said on a recent interview. “You never do anything isolation. All the things I’ve been able to accomplish is because of having great colleagues around me and having great doctoral students. I learn from them and publish with them.” In the resolution approved by trustees one of his former students, Eun Young Lee, was quoted as saying: “He provides me with a model for…


Rally supports immigrants fearful of deportation

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The crowd of 150 sang, “This Land is Our Land,” for those too fearful to sing themselves. Beatriz Maya talked to local undocumented immigrant families before Sunday’s rally held in the city’s downtown green space. But none felt safe enough to attend. “They are very afraid,” said Maya, of La Conexion of Wood County. Recent executive orders by President Donald Trump, are not only keeping people from coming to the U.S., but they are also forcing people back to their homelands. In many cases, families are being broken up as parents are being deported and children born in the U.S. are allowed to stay. Of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., many have children, said Flor Hernandez. “Families will be torn apart,” she said. “We need to stick together and protect the children of immigrants.” Deportation roundups have not occurred here in Wood County, Maya said. But the nearby cities of Napoleon and Wauseon have seen some residents deported, she added. “We think it’s a matter of time.” Efforts are being discussed to create rapid response teams in some communities to prepare for ICE raids. “We have to keep thinking of strategies,” Maya. A local pastor shouted out from the crowd, asking if churches should be setting up sanctuaries for undocumented immigrants. “We will welcome churches who might be willing to get involved,” Maya said. The recent push for deportations is not targeting just high risk undocumented immigrants, said Luis Moreno. Simple traffic violations can result in deportations. “If you break the law, you will be deported immediately,” he…