Immigration

La Conexion staging “Lights on for Dreamers” action this weekend

La Conexion is urging action to support the DACA program this weekend. The group is urging residents of Bowling Green on Saturday and Sunday from 8 to 9 p.m. to keep front lights on and post short messages to show their support for the Dreamers here under the provisions of DACA. On Sunday La Conexion will hold a rally on Wooster Green from 7 to 8 p.m. Those attending are urged to bring a flashlight, candle, or the light on their telephones to provide “Lights on for Dreamers.” For more information email: laconexionimmigrantsolidarity@gmail.com or visit the group’s page on Facebook.


Locals urge Congress to act to protect Dreamers

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Trump Administration’s announcement Tuesday that it would end protection for immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA, has prompted local calls for legislators to step in to protect the so-called Dreamers. Once the announcement was made , Beatriz Maya, the executive director of La Conexion, pulled together a small contingent to deliver a letter to the Bowling Green field office of U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) calling for him to support the Dream Act that is now before Congress. That act would provide protection for these immigrants who were brought here as children by their parents who lacked proper documentation. The act would also provide them and other young immigrants with a path to become citizens. The letter read in part: “We demand that you and all members of Congress take immediate action to protect DACA recipients contributing to communities across the country. We urge you to co-sponsor the bipartisan Dream Act sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sem. Dick Durbin (D-Ill) that would provide a path to citizenship to 1.8 million immigrant youth who grew up calling this country home.” The letter noted it makes no sense in areas reporting labor shortages to deport people who have been educated and trained here. Maya said six people visited the office and spoke with David Wirt, Latta’s district manager, for about 20 minutes. She said they were told that given the announcement was just made, he had not…


‘Isms’ give power to prejudice by labeling people

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Racism. Sexism, Ageism. Classism. Those “isms” tacked onto the ends of words stand for prejudice combined with power. The words define systematic prejudice – made easier by lumping people under a label. Earlier this month, Not In Our Town Bowling Green held another workshop at the library – this one specifically on “isms.” Everyone at the workshop could identify as a victim of at least one “ism.” There were “foreigners” and “feminists.”  There were people who stood out due to their color or their politics. The workshop was led by Dr. Krishna Han, assistant director of the BGSU Office of Multicultural Affairs. Han, originally from Cambodia, speaks five languages. Sometimes he can’t immediately find the English word that he is searching for. So, his strength sometimes appears to be a weakness when people judge Han’s intelligence by his occasional halting English. That and the color of his skin mean that Han may forever be looked upon as a foreigner in the U.S. – no matter how many years he had been here or the fact that he is an American citizen. “Generalization is dangerous – period,” Han said. Han tires of hearing people say, “Worry about your own country … This is my country,” he said. Even stereotypes that paint favorable pictures of people – such as all Asians being smart and hardworking – are harmful. “Any stereotype is negative,” said Ana Brown, a member of NIOT and BGSU administration member. Han…


BGSU receives federal money to study migration

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS The movement of people from place to place is centuries old. As part of human history, migration is integral to the story of the human race and modern society. Bowling Green State University has been awarded major funding under a new grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. “Understanding Migration: Local and Global Perspectives,” co-authored by Dr. Christina Guenther, world languages and cultures, and Dr. Vibha Bhalla, ethnic studies, has been funded for the full amount of $100,000. The new Humanities Connections grant is designed to encourage undergraduate students across the country to develop the intellectual skills and habits of mind that the humanities cultivate. In this first round of grant awards, BGSU was the only recipient in Ohio. The grant provides for professional development for faculty members in summer 2017 to design four new one-credit “1910” freshman seminar classes offered in the fall: “Immigrant Ohio in the 21st Century,” “Changing Faces of Europe: Contemporary Voices of Migration,” “The Great Migration,” and “Searching for Memories: Mexican (Im)Migration to Northwest Ohio.” The four seminars will then be expanded into general education courses and may qualify students for a Migration Studies certificate for those who complete all four. A second set of courses will be developed and launched in fall 2018. Topics may include “Transnational Ohio,” “Negotiating the Mediterranean: France and North Africa” and “Contemporary African Migration to the US.” Also supported by the grant will be BGSU’s third annual “Immigrant Ohio” symposium in…


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…


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,…


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…


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…


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…


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…


BG residents rally to support immigrants

About 150 people have gathered Sunday evening on the green space in downtown Bowling Green to condemn the Trump Administration’s recent executive orders on immigration and to offer support to the migrants in their midst. Tighter immigration laws and enforcement threaten not just to keep people out but to break up American families now in the country. Beatriz Maya of La Conexion de Wood County said workers come here to work at jobs others do not want. Driving them out will hurt the economy. The rally is scheduled to last until 6 p.m.


La Conexion will hold rally Sunday

La Conexion de Wood County will hold a rally on Sunday, Feb 26 at 5 p.m. in Bowling Green’s Green Space across Church Street from the police station. The rally is being help to express support and solidarity for immigrants following the issuance of the Trump Administration’s recent executive orders on immigration. The rally is also in support of the city’s and Bowling Green State University’s efforts to build welcoming, safe and inclusive communities.


Faculty Senate wants BGSU to become a welcome campus

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News No pickets showed up for Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting advocating for Bowling Green State University be designated a sanctuary campus. A crowd was expected for the on-call session, which is on the calendar but seldom convened. Much to the dismay of a dozen or so students and faculty gathered for the proceedings, signs at the entryway to the assembly room advised that the seats were saved for senators. Once roll was called Rachelle Kristof Hippler, who chairs the senate, invited them in to fill whatever empty seats were left. Aside from reports from President Mary Ellen Mazey and Provost Rodney Rogers, the only item on the agenda was a resolution calling for BGSU to become a welcome campus. The change in the wording from “sanctuary” to “welcome,” was intentional. Asked to explain the difference Christina Guenther, who introduced the resolution and had called for the session last time senate met, said that being a welcome campus better aligned with the Not In Our Town efforts. The term also was “less loaded in terms of associations,” said the professor of German. A bill, supported by U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green), has been introduced in the U.S. House calling for sanctions against sanctuary cities. Regardless of the term used, the senate after no action on the issue the previous two times it met, passed the resolution 46-6 with one abstention. The resolution was a softer version than the original petition. This time, Mazey choose not…


BGSU senate approves Welcoming Campus resolution

The Bowling Green State University Faculty Senate Tuesday afternoon passed a resolution calling for BGSU a Welcoming Campus. The vote was 46-6 in favor. The resolution as presented represented a somewhat softer version of the sanctuary campus proposal discussed earlier. The resolution was further changed by striking a provision calling for Homeland Security, Border Patrol and Immigrant and Customs officials on campus for recruiting to be in plain clothes and unarmed. Unlike in previous meetings President Mary Ellen Mazey did not state opposition to the resolution in her remarks at the beginning of the meeting. Afterward she said she would have to talk with members of her cabinet including university counsel before stating whether she approved of the resolutions. The use of the term “welcoming” instead of “sanctuary” was both to align with Not In Our Town and to evade sanctions being proposed against sanctuary communities.


Political scientist argues opening borders, resettling refugees are a moral imperative

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   While the president of the United States talks about building a wall to keep people out, political scientist Joseph Carens believes borders should be thrown open. “We have to use overt force to prevent people from moving,” he said. “We need borders and barriers and guards to keep out people who want to build a decent life for themselves and their children. And that is something we can change. At least we can let more people in. Our refusal to do so is a choice we make, and one that prevents them from having a chance at a decent life.” Carens, who spoke on “Immigration Controversies: Migrants, Refugees and Open Borders” Feb. 16 at Bowling Green State University bases his argument on the belief that “all human beings are equal” and have “equal moral worth.” His talk was hosted by the Philosophy, Politics, Economics and Law Program. Yet, he said, the conventional view that states control who can come in and out means that the opportunities for human beings, especially those from impoverished and politically unstable states, are not equal. “Freedom of movement is essential to the freedom of equal opportunity,” Carens said. He sees no rationale for someone to be able to travel unhindered to Boston or Los Angeles, but then go through border checks to go to Toronto. Any system of restrictions, he said, should take into account the interests of all parties involved including immigrants. It is not enough to…