Immigration

Immigrants reflect on their journeys to citizenship

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For Maite Yoselin Hall taking the citizenship oath was a relief. Now she’s a citizen of this country. She’s no longer subject to possible changes in regulations that would separate her from her husband. It’s easier to visit her mother in Venezuela. And she can plan to bring her mother to the United States. Hall was one of 48 people, from 26 countries, who became U.S. citizens Tuesday at the Naturalization Ceremony held in the Grand Ballroom of Bowling Green State University. United States District Court Judge James R. Knepp presided. Hall works as the coordinator of international students at BGSU. When she raised her hand to take the oath, she was flanked by new American citizens who’d immigrated from Thailand, Romania, Mexico, India, Jordan, Cuba, Egypt, and Iraq. In the row in front of her stood her parents, Alcira and Franklin Barrios. Hall said it was happenstance that they took the oath of citizenship at the same ceremony. They’d gone through the process separately. Hall first arrived in the United States as a teenager when her father took a managerial job at Owens-Illinois in Perrysburg. He’d worked as a manager for O-I in their native Venezuela. Her mother, Hall said, had encouraged her to come to the United States with her father and has encouraged her to stay.  The family lived in Toledo, and Hall went to Springfield schools. Those early years were difficult, she said in an interview. She didn’t speak any English. “I have to say those are days I do not wish to go back to. I guess they got me here.” She attended Owens Community College in business and transferred to Tiffin University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in higher education administration. It took her eight years to go through the naturalization process after getting her green card. Her husband, Rodcliffe Hall, is a naturalized citizen from Jamaica. He was her sponsor. The process is not cheap. The application for citizenship is about $800, and the cost total about $5,000. Her half-siblings are also going through the naturalization process. During Tuesday’s ceremony, Magdy AbouZied, associate director of BGSU Dining Services, reflected on his own journey to become an American citizen. He came to the United  States from Egypt in 1988, knowing only one person, his cousin. He came, he said, to finish…

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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 Easy. So much of it has “that rolling clave feel,” he said. “At the same time we’re all fans of country music, and of course, rock ‘n’ roll. We’re huge fans of all these different touchstones that we’re able to draw from and comingle into a true American music.” The…


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 sure if I was going to see my family again,” Maya said the man stated on the ride back to BG. He also remarked about the change in the trees since he was picked up, and pointed out the smoother roads once they crossed over from Michigan. “Ahhh, Ohio,” Maya…


La Conexion raising funds to assist father detained by ICE

Submitted by LA CONEXION A couple of weeks ago a member of La Conexion was detained and reported to ICE. A simple traffic violation in Wood County area caused this hard working, honest, father of three citizen children, and member of the BG community to be sent to an ICE facility in Michigan. Our member is a tradesman who has been working for a local company for the last 7 years. Who wins by deporting this person? Certainly not his citizen children, his wife, his employer, or this community. (Click for related story.) His first immigration hearing in is set on Monday 5/21/18 and at that time a bond will be placed by the judge. Help us assist his family in raising the funds they need to get him back in our community. Solidarity Ice Cream Social Sunday May 20 — 5:00 to 6:30 PM First Presbyterian Church basement 126 S. Church St., BG (parking on S. Grove St.) There will be an informal community conversation about what we can do as a community to support immigrants, including those who are subject to arrest. If unable to attend contributions can be mailed to: La Conexion, POB 186 Bowling Green OH 43402 (write: Member on memo line) For more information: Contact La Conexion 419.308.2328 Event organized by members of La Conexion and the La Conexion Immigrant Solidarity Committee.


Arts Beat: Sharing the bravos – ‘Emilie,’ electrifies; ‘Montreal, White City,’ haunts

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Bravo! BGSU this weekend was a major arts event, showcasing some, but by no means all that transpires here culturally. Like the food served at Bravo! this was just a taste, delicious to be sure, but a sampling. As the spring semester unwinds, it’s hard to keep up with everything going on. Yet there are events that bear documenting.   “Emilie” Among those performing at Bravo! BGSU was Hillary LaBonte, who with Caroline Kouma, reprised a duet from Mozart’s “Cosi Fan Tutte,” which was staged two weeks ago. That opera was a frothy entertainment. Just a couple days before Bravo! though, LaBonte had the stage to herself in a very different opera. Working with conductor Maria Mercedes Diaz Garcia and the Vive! Ensemble, which the conductor founded, she sang “Emilie,” a solo opera by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho and Lebanese author Amin Maalouf. Here LaBonte portrays leading 18th century French intellectual Emilie de Chatelet. We find de Chatelet in the process of writing a letter to her lover, the father of the child she carries. De Chatelet was a woman of great passions, both physical and intellectual, and all these weave together. She spills her heart into the letter. Her quill is amplified so that there’s a telegraphic urgency as she writes. That’s just one of the ways the composer uses electronics to expose Emilie’s inner life. Emilie is consumed by a sense of foreboding, about to give birth, she expects the worst. She speaks of her hopes for her child, hopes for a parent as loving and encouraging as her father. Rare for the time, de Chatelet received a full education in the sciences and arts. She played harpsichord. The instrument electronically amplified plays a prominent part in the orchestra. It tracks, even anticipates, her thoughts. She is devoted to astronomy, physics, mathematics, and philosophy. There is nothing cold about her calculations and observations. They burn like the sun, whose constitution she ponders. Emilie is at this point completing her translation into French from Latin of Newton’s “Principia.” This is the cutting edge science of the day, and still aligned with the mystical. The score, performed by a small orchestra, amplifies the moods, whether the dark foreboding or antic excitement. LaBonte soars above, her voice capturing all the emotional shades of Emilie’s personality. As she faces her fears that she will disappear in…


Local man jailed by ICE as family fights his deportation

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A traffic stop has landed a local man in jail, with the next stop likely deportation back to Mexico for being an undocumented immigrant. He has left behind three children who are U.S. citizens, a wife who has just been diagnosed with Lupus, and a local employer who is unlikely to find a documented American to take his place in the fields. “Who’s winning with this,” said Beatriz Maya, from La Conexion of Wood County, who is trying to help both the family left behind and the husband being held in Geauga County jail which has a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “We are losing a hardworking person, who is honest and never took anything,” Maya said. The family has lost its breadwinner, and the farmer has lost a worker. “Who’s winning?” Fearful that they might be targeted by ICE, since the mother is also an undocumented immigrant, the family wanted to tell their story without revealing their names. Though the three children, ages 11, 14 and 16, are all proficient in English, their mom speaks primarily Spanish, so Maya provided translation  at the family’s kitchen table in their very modest home that they hope to hang onto. The family’s story is complicated, with one unwavering detail – the father being held by ICE and likely to be deported is a hard-working man. The father came to the U.S. in 1996 to pick crops in Florida. Starting in 2002, he began migrating between Ohio and Florida to hit harvest seasons. At age 38, he has picked oranges, apples, strawberries, cucumbers and pumpkins, his wife said. He started working picking crops on a large farm in Wood County, then changed jobs to work at a local dairy which meant year-round work so their children did not have to move during the school year. His latest job was working at an area orchard. By all accounts, the man is a hard worker, with his previous employers often trying to get him back, Maya said. He is quiet, barely makes eye-contact when talking, and is illiterate, Maya said. “To be honest, he’s a very hard worker,” his wife said as she nervously fiddled with her fingers at the kitchen table. She is a petite woman with her hair pulled together in a neat bun, and a face full of worries. “Oh my gosh, he…