Immigration

DACA deadline nears with fate of Dreamers in question

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   It is now less than two weeks until the DACA program is set to expire. Meanwhile, the people who came to the U.S. as small children continue to be used as a political football by politicians, according to Beatriz Maya, of the La Conexion organization in Wood County. “It would be a miracle if they could come up with something meaningful in a few days,” Maya said Sunday as members of the La Conexion Solidarity Committee met. “We are expecting the worst.” However, the rulings of two federal courts are keeping the DACA program on life support, explained Amanda Schackow, also of La Conexion. The court rulings are at least allowing renewals, but no one new can be added to DACA. This has local immigrants and their advocates frustrated and fearful. “The Republicans promised to come out with a fix for DACA. That did not happen,” Schackow said. “The Dream Act was not even a conversation.” Ten different attempts at legislation are “floating around,” she said. “There’s no concrete piece of legislation.” Compromise is difficult, with President Donald Trump’s insistence on a border wall, reduction in the total number of immigrants coming in, limits on family members allowed, and an end to the diversity program, Schackow said. Since little can be done about the legislation in limbo, the La Conexion Solidarity Committee has been preparing local families for possible deportation by getting the proper documentation for the children born in the U.S. from Dreamers. “They need to prepare for that terrible eventuality,” Schackow said. Deportations of non-criminal undocumented immigrants have gone up 40 percent in the past year, Schackow said. According to ABLE (Advocates for Basic Legal Equality), the top trigger for deportations is traffic stops. Ten or so states allow undocumented immigrants to obtain drivers’ licenses. But Ohio does not. Those immigrants are often turned over to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). Undocumented immigrants are given identification numbers with the IRS, so they can pay taxes on their income – but…

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Treehouse Troupe takes “New Kid” on the road to share lessons about tolerance

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bullying is an international language. That’s a lesson Nic learns on her first day in an American school. She had moved with her family to the United States from Homeland, not speaking English, and now she must adjust to life among strangers. That’s the plot of “New Kid,” a play by Dennis Foon being staged in schools around the region by Bowling Green State University’s Treehouse Troupe. Recently the troupe staged “New Kid” in the atrium of the Wood County Public Library for home-schooled students and students from St. Aloysius. We meet Nic played by Shannan Bingham and her mother played by Kristyn Curnow as they discuss leaving their country Homeland. The backdrop is colorful and their costumes are an iridescent green. Though they say they don’t know English, their lines come out as English, and the audience knows what they are saying. Soon Nic is in her new school, shyly joining two other students, Mencha (Autumn Chisholm) and Mug (Harmon Andrews) at recess. Before she comes out the audience gets to listen in on Mencha and Mug’s conversation. Not that it will do them any good. They’re animated as they chat but the words frustrate comprehension. Clearly it’s a language, just not one we understand. Nor as it turns out any other language. The actors’ body gestures, make it clear that they are negotiating some sort of exchange. The language was made up by the playwright to give youngsters a sense of what it’s like to be in a place where you can’t understand what anyone else is saying. Nic has a rough time. Mug starts by teasing and then taunts her, even breaking the bowl her friends back in Homeland gave her as a going away present. She learns one word “Groc,” an ethnic slur. She flees school. Nic returns to school the next day intent of staying away from the others. But Mencha proves to be a good hearted sort who befriends her and helps her deal with Mug’s bullying. Emily Aguilar,…


Global Detroit leader to speak on immigrant & the economy

Building Global: Welcoming Immigrants and Economic Growth, a conversation with Steve Tobocman, of Global Detroit, will be presented Thursday November 2, 2017, 6-7:30 p.m. in the  Atrium of the Wood County Public Library, Bowling Green. Since 2009,  Tobocman has spearheaded Global Detroit, www.globaldetroit.com, and led the creation and growth of the Welcoming Economies Global Network , a regional Network of over a dozen regional economic development initiatives from across the Midwest working to address critical labor shortages and economic revitalization needs by tapping into the economic development opportunities created by immigrants as valued contributors to local economies. Tobocman served as the State Representative from Michigan 12th State House focusing his work on economic development. He earned his Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School and a Masters in Public Policy from U of M’s Ford School of Public Policy. Event organized by the City of Bowling Green Human Relations Commission, the Welcome BG Task Force, the Bowling Green Economic Development, and the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. Opening remarks by Mayor Edwards.  


La Conexion raises funds to assist DACA dreamers

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News In a time when businesses are lamenting a lack of workers, the members of La Conexion de Wood County’s Immigrant Solidarity Committee wonder why some people want to make it hard for immigrant laborers to stay here. In its most recent action, the committee launched a fundraising campaign to help those with DACA – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – status stay in the country. The campaign was successful in raising the money to help two local men renew their DACA status. That paperwork costs $495 and must be filed every two years. One of the men Rudy Cruz of Pemberville attended a recent committee meeting to speak about his situation. Cruz came with his parents from Guatemala when he was too young to remember. He also has younger siblings who were born here. Cruz grew up in Pemberville, attended Eastwood schools, and attended Penta Career Center to study carpentry. He graduated in 2016. He now works for Rudolph-Libbe. Recently he spent a week working in Marathon, Florida, helping repair damage from Hurricane Irma. He said he was grateful for the committee for its support. La Conexion is “a nice organization that helps.” Another man who works at a local factory also received support. These are the kind of skilled workers local employers say they need, said Beatriz Maya, the executive director of La Conexion. Immigrants work in all sectors of industry, both low skill and high skill, not just in agriculture. “This is becoming a critical issue,” Maya said. “If we don’t address it, employers who want to expand, to grow, won’t be able to.” Immigration status isn’t the only problem, she said. Many immigrants have difficulty getting the credit reports needed to find housing. La Conexion has also raised funds so family members of immigrants who are here without documents, and cannot get them, can get passports in case their family member is deported and they need to join with them.   Amanda Schackow, a member of the solidarity committee, gave a…


Afghan-American artist dials up the voices of immigrants

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News A telephone booth sits on the edge of Promenade Park in Toledo. Inside the telephone rings. When I pick up the ringer a woman is speaking in a language I don’t recognize, never mind understand. She is in mid-statement. The passion in her voice pierces through the language barrier. When the translator comes on, I learn she is from Tibet, now living in New York City. She fled Tibet because the Chinese killed her family. She has freedom now. “If I was living in Tibet, I wouldn’t have freedom.” This is at once a voice from far away, yet speaking from the heart of America. The telephone booth is archaic, yet it gives voice to current concerns. The booth and two others in located around Toledo are part of “Once Upon a Place,” an art installation created by Afghan-American artist Aman Mojadidi. The telephone booths went up in Promenade Park, the library at the University of Toledo, and the main branch library of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library several weeks ago and will remain in place through Oct. 22. The installation was displayed earlier this year in Times Square in New York City, where it was created. Mojadidi recently spoke to students at the Bowling Green State University School of Art about the project, his life, and his career. “What I was interested in with this project was to show how cities small and large, including Toledo, have been built by people who came from other countries,” he said. As the United States’  “flagship city,” New York seemed the place to bring that idea to fruition. Almost 37 percent of its population is foreign born as is about 12 percent of the nation’s population. He started working on “Once Upon a Place” more than a year ago, just as the presidential campaign was heating up, and Donald Trump was stirring up his followers with anti-immigration rhetoric. It was also when New York City was removing the last of its public phone booths. Using a…


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 return address so that we can send you a receipt. The church parking lot on the Grove St. side of the church will be available (enter through the door with the awning and handicapped walkway). For more information email: laconexionimmigrantsolidarity@gmail.com


Path to U.S. citizenship nearly impossible for most

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   To those who wonder why undocumented immigrants don’t just wait their turn to get into the U.S., Eugenio Mollo Jr. has an answer. It can take 20 years of waiting – and that’s for the lucky ones. “It’s not that easy,” Mollo said Thursday evening during a program on immigration sponsored by LaConexion’s Immigrant Solidarity Committee. The U.S. is operating under immigration law that was adopted in 1952. Prior to then, the law was updated every seven to 12 years. “Now we’ve gone 65 years without any comprehensive immigration reform,” said Mollo, an attorney with Advocates for Basic Legal Equality. Meanwhile, the U.S. now has up to 12 million undocumented immigrants. The nation allows 226,000 Visas to be issued a year, based on family connections, employers who need particular expertise, or due to humanitarian issues. The antiquated system, Mollo said, permits no more than 7 percent of those Visas to go to immigrants of a particular nation. That is a problem for India, China, Mexico and the Philippines, he said. To explain the current system, Mollo used the example of a U.S. citizen having two siblings who wanted a Visa. The sibling from Uganda would have to wait 13 years from when they first applied. The sibling from Mexico would wait at least 19 years. The wait time is likely much longer now. “So many people have applied,” Mollo said. “My job is to help these people climb this immigration ladder,” he said. But the climb is difficult, especially with the federal government toughening standards and considering ending some options for refugees. Adding to the fear and frustration for those seeking to immigrate to the U.S. and those already here, are the rapidly changing rules being pushed by the President Donald Trump administration. There are plans for a border wall, more deportations, the proposed travel ban and now the possible end to the DACA program. Since Trump became president, the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers has more than doubled and…