Immigration

La Conexion asks Latta to stand up against family separations at border

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News A group of citizens wants U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Bowling Green, to take a stand against family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border. Latta has stated that the separation of families coming into the U.S. is “not necessary.” But that falls far short of calling out the practice as “a crime against humanity,” said Beatriz Maya, director of La Conexion of Wood County. “There was an intentionality in separating children from parents as a way to stop immigration,” Maya said during a meeting Thursday between La Conexion members and David Wirt, district director for Latta. “There was never an intention of returning these kids to their parents,” Maya said, noting the federal government’s admission that an insufficient record system now means that many children are still separated from their parents. Maya and others presented Wirt with a letter for Latta, asking that he support the termination of the family separations, the immediate reunification of children and parents, and allocations for more agents to process asylum claims. Wirt pointed out that Latta has stated that the separations are not necessary. That isn’t enough, Maya said. “The point is, what are we going to do about it,” she asked. The members of La Conexion asked for a face-to-face meeting with Latta about their concerns. Wirt said he would pass on that request to Latta’s office in Washington, D.C., where all the scheduling is handled. Amanda Schackow talks about family separations as Nicholas Eckhart listens. Most of the families separated at the border were not sneaking into the country, but openly seeking asylum – which is their right under international law, said La Conexion member Amanda Schackow. However, they were torn apart prior to any hearings held. “It’s pretty clear this was meant as a deterrent,” despite the U.S. experiencing a 20-year low in the number of asylum seekers, she said. Without their parents, many of the children had to represent themselves at asylum hearings – which determined if they would be deported, adopted or put in foster care. Many of the children were classified as “unaccompanied…

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BG joins the nation in rallying for immigrant families

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nearly 250 Bowling Green citizens sweltered in the sun Saturday to add their voices to the national cry for justice for families seeking refuge in America. They gathered on Wooster Green to be counted among the 800-plus rallies held across the nation today with their top message being – families belong together. They held signs saying “Resist Hate,” “Reunite Broken Hearts,” and “The Pilgrims were Undocumented.” They came to say their country doesn’t treat people with such cruelty. And their Christianity doesn’t turn away people in need. They listened as Dr. Bill Donnelly, a psychologist who specializes in the care of children, talked about the traumatic effects the forced separations will have on children taken from their parents as they cross the southern U.S. border. “There will be devastating consequences for children and their family members,” Donnelly said. Decades of research show that children forcibly taken from their families are likely to suffer long-term problems of anxiety, depression, panic and grief, he said. “There is nothing more important for the mental health and physical health of a child,” than being with family, Donnelly said. Children crossing the border with their parents had already undergone great stress making the dangerous trek into the U.S. “They’re not coming in a luxury train,” he said. “Children rely on their parents for support in difficult times.” Despite President Donald Trump’s executive order that children no longer be separated from their parents at the border, very few families have been reunited. More than 2,000 children are still being held in detention centers, and it appears that in many cases, the federal government does not know where some separated children are so they can be reunited with parents. “This policy is needless and cruel,” Donnelly said. “We know children are not reunited with their parents.” It’s that image that brought Sheila Brown to Saturday’s rally. “I’m here to help support immigrant families,” Brown said. “I can’t even fathom having my children torn from me just because I’m looking for a better life for them.” The rally began with…


Local residents rally to support immigrant families

About 250 people participated in a Justice for Immigrant Families rally this morning (June 30, 2018) on immigration policies that have separated immigrant families at the U.S. border, at workplaces, and in the local community. Among the speakers were psychologist Bill Donnelly who spoke to the mental and physical health problems coming from the trauma of children being separated from their families. Also addressing the crowd were City Councilors Bruce Jeffers and John Zanfardino, ministers Mary Jane Saunders and Deb Conklin, and Beatriz Maya, of La Conexion, which has been assisting families of undocumented immigrants detained by ICE. The rally was one of a series of protests being held across the country. A story on the rally will appear later today on BG Independent News.


BG women protest separation of children and parents seeking asylum

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bowling Green women piled into an SUV Thursday afternoon and headed for Detroit to be part of a national protest against a U.S. policy they called inhumane. The numbers aren’t exact, but it’s been estimated that nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the U.S. border with Mexico in the last six weeks. The Trump administration has said it is simply following the law. But opponents say there is no law requiring that children be taken from parents who are seeking asylum in the U.S. “This is immoral,” said Janet Parks as the Bowling Green women headed up Interstate 75 in Tom Baer’s BG Airport Shuttle. Parks was joined by Joan Callecod, Beatriz Maya, Debra Nicholson, Sandy Rowland and Amanda Schackow – a retired educator, accountant, realtor, retail manager, writer and community advocate. “I’m ashamed of what our country is doing by separating families,” Rowland said. For some, the protest was personal. “I know several people who came here as asylum cases,” Schackow said. “Thinking about their children being taken away is really horrific.” As the SUV continued north, the women talked about tango classes, knitting, travels and food. But the conversation kept circling back to the injustice of children being separated from their parents. “I keep thinking about the trauma the children are going through,” Callecod said. “These are people. These are not animals,” Nicholson said. Maya, originally from Argentina, finds it hard to fathom the harm caused by the separations. “It is unbelievable that somebody can do this. It’s the most horrific thing,” Maya said. These families seeking asylum in the U.S. have made great sacrifices getting here – many trying to escape life-threatening situations, she said. “I went through a dictatorship in Argentina. It is already frightening to be an immigrant,” Maya said. “Do you know what it is to lose your kids to foster care and never know what happened to them?” The Bowling Green women joined about 300 other protesters outside the gates of the immigration detention center in Detroit. As they lined…


The Iguanas deeply rooted music connects with pro-migrant cause

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News When it comes to music, the fundamental things still apply. “The thing that’s always compelling is bands playing music together,” said Rene Coman, of the New Orleans-based roots band The Iguanas. “That’s the human part. That’s the exciting part that’s not dictated by a machine.” The Iguanas, who played the Black Swamp Arts Festival back in 2001, will play a benefit show for La Conexion de Wood County, Monday, June 18, at 7 p.m., at Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St., Bowling Green. Suggested donation is $10. The cause of supporting immigrants is one the band can get behind, Coman said.  The band’s lead singers, Joe Cabral and Rod Hodges, have grandparents who came to the United States from Mexico. “We definitely see ourselves as kindred spirits in that line of migration,” he said. “People are trying to improve their lives and find opportunities for their children. How can you fault anyone for that?” That’s not surprising for a band that embraces its American roots including those that extend south of the border or into the Louisiana swamp homes of the French Arcadians. “One of the things that makes the band work and that contributes to our longevity is we’re all into different kinds of music with a lot of intersections,” Coman said in a recent telephone interview. Cabral, saxophone and bajo sexton, and Hodges, guitar and accordion, were drawn to New Orleans by the city’s tradition of rock ‘n’ roll. That’s where they formed The Iguanas in 1989. Early on they had a shifting team of rhythm players. Coman joined on bass and keyboards in 1990. A year later he enlisted Doug Harrison, a former bandmate with Alex Chilton’s group, to take over the drum chair. The band has been a quintet at times, with another horn, but they’ve settle in as a quartet. “We’re perfectly comfortable swimming in that big open space.” Coman, who is from New Orleans, said the city sees itself linked culturally to the Caribbean. That musical tradition resonates throughout the sounds that took shape in the Big…


Esther Nagel: Separation of immigrant parents from children is ‘abhorrent’

ICE’s current practice of separating immigrant parents and children upon entering our country is abhorrent.   According to pediatricians this practice does irreparable damage to a child’s emotional and psychological well being. Some of our countries’ leaders say this practice is to deter families from illegally entering our country.  But, many are leaving their home countries due to persecution, poverty and corruption. Agreed, some illegals use children as a shield.  However, this is not a good reason to continue this horrendous inhumane practice. We profess to be a nation “Under God”;  profess to care for our fellow human beings.  If we who profess this remain silent, our inaction is comparable to giving our consent to this repulsive practice. I have called and sent an e-mail to my two Senators as well as Representative Latta telling them to immediately cease this appalling practice.   Before I call I write down what I wish to say in order to correctly convey my opinion. For more information, google “immigrant families being separated.” If you wish to let your Senators and Representative Latta know your opinion on this practice, below are their phone numbers and e-mail connections.   Representative Latta:  202-225-6405 or 800-826-3688 Senator Portman:  202-224-3353 Senator Brown:  202-224-2315 To e-mail our above congressmen, google “contact my senator and congressman” The best way to change this despicable practice is to let your Senators and Representative Latta know your opinion! Thank you for your consideration   Esther Nagel, Custar, Ohio


Donations bring BG undocumented immigrant home – but 2 more arrested

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   On the same day that one Bowling Green man returned home on bond from ICE, another two local men were taken away. Few details are available about the two men picked up on Tuesday afternoon, other than they are being held in Seneca County Jail, which contracts as an immigration detention site in Tiffin. FBI Special Agent Vicki Anderson said Wednesday that while the FBI was involved in the search, the arrests were made by the customs and border patrol. No further information was available. The latest arrests come on the heels of a community fundraiser that helped bring home another Bowling Green man who has being held in a Battle Creek, Michigan, jail for undocumented immigration status. He had been turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement following a traffic violation in northern Wood County. More than 50 members of the community raised more than $3,000 during an ice cream social held Sunday at First Presbyterian Church in Bowling Green. That money was used to get a $5,000 bond for his release on Tuesday. According to Beatriz Maya, director of La Conexion, the man has worked as a skilled tradesman in the Bowling Green community for more than seven years and has no criminal history. “He is an asset for the community. We want him here,” Maya said. The man has a wife and three young children. The children are all U.S. citizens. The BG man had been held in Michigan for 25 days after being picked up for speeding north of Bowling Green, and being turned over to ICE. A hearing held on Monday found that he qualified to be released on bond. “They found he’s not a criminal of any sort,” Maya said. He has been in the U.S. for nearly 14 years, with half of that in Bowling Green, working locally. Maya brought him home from Battle Creek after bond was posted in Detroit. “He was very, very emotional,” she said, recalling his conversation on the trip home. “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I wasn’t…