Citizens gather on Wooster Green to defend DACA

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Yvette Llanas, a lifelong Bowling Green resident and American citizen, never dreamed the threat of deportation would touch her family. Llanas found out last week she was wrong. “I never thought this would affect me,” Llanas said in an impromptu speech on the Wooster Green Sunday evening during a rally opposing President Donald Trump’s action to end DACA. “My daughter-in-law happens to be undocumented,” Llanas said. “The decision made this week just crushed my soul.” Her daughter-in-law came to America as a small child. “This is the only home she knows,” Llanas said. “She is part of our country,” as are her two children. “We are all immigrants here, somehow, some way,” Llanas said. About 60 local residents gathered in the Wooster Green to express their opposition to Trump’s announcement last week that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months if Congress doesn’t find a more permanent solution. Since it was enacted under President Barack Obama, about 800,000 immigrants who were children when they arrived in the U.S. illegally have received protections from the program. DACA allows young people brought to this country illegally by their parents to get a temporary reprieve from deportation and to receive permission to work, study and obtain driver’s licenses. Those signing up for DACA must show that they have clean criminal records. Their status is renewable every two years. “This is really targeting kids who were brought by their parents at a very early age,” said Beatriz Maya, of the La Conexion organization. “They don’t know any other life. It makes no sense for them to be deported. It’s very wrong. They cannot be blamed for anything.” Those attending the rally were asked to contact their congress members about the DACA issue. “The Dreamers don’t want citizenship just for themselves,” Maya said. “They want comprehensive immigration reform for 11 million undocumented immigrants, who have been contributing to the nation for many, many years.” Jorge Chavez, president of the La Conexion organization, presented his comments in Spanish and English. “I am blessed and lucky because I don’t have to be afraid,” said Chavez, who is a BGSU professor, a father and a husband. The DACA program helped about 800,000 people previously at risk of deportation. “This program allowed them to come out of the shadows, to drive, to work,” he said. “They are our friends. They are our neighbors. They are business leaders. They are us. There is no division here,” Chavez said. “America is stronger because of her diversity.” “If they lose out, we all lose out,” he said. “I urge you, we have less than six months to act.” Bowling Green’s city administration was represented at the rally, showing support for DACA. Council member Sandy Rowland read a statement by Mayor Dick Edwards stressing the city’s welcoming platform for immigrants. Council member Daniel Gordon noted the frequent rallies being held recently in the Wooster Green. “It’s a shame we have to keep coming out here,” he said. But citizens can’t sit by while Trump dismantles the DACA program. “What’s going on here is morally obscene. It will rip their families apart and take them from the only families they have ever known,” Gordon said. Ending DACA is not only…

BG says ‘welcome’ in many different languages

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   On the day that “Dreamers” saw their American status slipping away, Bowling Green residents stood before City Council Tuesday and recited the city’s “welcoming and safe community” resolution in their native languages. “In April, we brought a resolution to City Council about Bowling Green being a welcoming community for immigrants,” said Rev. Mary Jane Saunders, head of the city’s human relations commission, working with La Conexion. 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.” To show the significance of the resolution, one by one, a group of city residents read a portion of the resolution in Vietnamese, Indian, Hindi, German, Chinese, Italian, Spanish and English. The group also presented council with a “welcoming” poster designed by Ethan Jordan. Beatriz Maya, of La Conexion, said other translations will be added to the city’s website as they become available. “This is a work in progress,” she said. Mayor Dick Edwards praised the translations shared at the meeting. “What a special way of touching all of our hearts,” he said. When City Council adopted the welcoming resolution earlier this year, council member Daniel Gordon pushed for the effort. “I’m very happy with the language that we have here,” Gordon said. 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.” Gordon said the resolution was written specifically with the immigrant population in mind. The city had recently passed an anti-Islamaphobia resolution, and already protected the LGBT community under a city ordinance. Though undocumented immigration is a national issue, council member John Zanfardino said the city needs to take a stand locally. “People are living with a new level of fear in Bowling Green and everywhere,” Zanfardino said earlier this year. “It’s a national nightmare.” On Tuesday evening, Gordon asked council to take a stand to defend DACA. “These people stand to be torn away from any home they have known,” he said. Gordon suggested that council send letters to U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman. “This is something we all should be able to rally behind,” he said.

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: 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 had time to contact Latta to get his position on the matter. Maya noted in an interview later Tuesday that “we were never completely happy with DACA. It was only temporary. It allowed access work and study and in some cases travel abroad. It was limited, but for these kids it was lifesaving.” Now she hopes Congress can improve the situation for young immigrants with the Dream Act. Also supporting the legislation is Bowling Green State University President Mary Ellen Mazey. At the Tuesday session of faculty senate, she reiterated her support for the Dream Act, and her and other college presidents resolve to do what they can to reverse the administration directive through legislative action. “We’ll continue to work on it and see what we can do so the dreamers can have the opportunity to stay in this country,” she said. In a statement to the campus community, Mazey wrote: “DACA students on our campuses have enriched our learning environment and brought extraordinary talent to our University. I am very hopeful that our DACA students’ legal status will be preserved by Congress.” Dave Kielmeyer, the university’s chief communications officer, said that the university has six DACA students enrolled at BGSU. There are about 800,000 Dreamers nationwide.    

‘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 asked the group to identify the hurtful comments directed to them in the past. “What do you never again want people to say, think or do toward your group?” For Yaohan Chen, an Asian-American, it was easy. “Go back to where you came from, or that we are not part of America and shouldn’t have a say in America,” Chen said. Then there’s the common, “Are immigrants stealing benefits? Are they benefitting society or not?” Margaret Montague, of NIOT, recalled a speaker originally from India being frequently asked how often he gets to go home. His answer – every day at the end of work. “How long does someone get labeled as an immigrant?” she asked. Some are “perpetual foreigners” because of the color of their skin. “When does it end?” Montague said. “My family has been here longer than most, but I will always be an outsider,” Brown said. The group also discussed those stereotyped because of their socio-economic status. Some are labeled “trailer trash,” by those who have no idea of the toll that generational poverty takes on families, Brown said. “Poverty has become a moral failing,” with poor people often labeled as lazy and stupid, Brown said. “It takes a long time to dig out. It’s a systematic injustice.” The women in the group listed off comments they could do without, such as “Men are the head of the household,” Montague said. Brown recalled working as a camp counselor when being told, “The boys will gather the firewood. The girls will cut the vegetables.” The tables were turned when the boys returned with wood that could not be used. “We can’t light green wood,” Brown told them, as she and the girls picked up dead wood from the ground. “Now the boys will wash the dishes and…

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 fall 2017, and a community film festival on the topic of migration. BGSU faculty have been studying migration for years, and in 2015, Bhalla organized the first “Immigrant Ohio” event to mark the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Act. Around the same time, Guenther organized a research cluster in which faculty members from various disciplines draw on historical, literary and socio-cultural approaches in migration studies. The grant proposal grew out of that cluster. “We thought that we could do something in migration studies that’s very different, that involves the humanities in the broadest sense and goes across many disciplines,” Gunther said. The research cluster is housed under the BGSU Institute for the Study of Culture & Society, a humanities hub that serves as an incubator for research and teaching. “We have a very engaged group of scholars across many disciplines who have been addressing the issue of migration for some time,” said Dr. Raymond Craig, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Faculty in our college have a history of receiving NEH grants, and this latest initiative underscores their commitment to global issues and the public good.” The new curricula made possible by the grant seeks to reframe the way students understand identity, community and society. “More than 80 percent of our undergraduate students are Ohio-born and Caucasian,” Bhalla said. “We want them to understand that the making of America has involved many different groups, and it’s happening still. Why, for example, did African Americans migrate to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Youngstown; what are the cultural contributions and how did they affect those areas? Similarly, what have been the effects of Mexican Americans coming to our area in the last half century?” As anti-immigration sentiment in nations with large migrant populations has seen an increase, it is important…

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. Immigration and Customs Enforcement followed a man who was bringing his daughter to school. They waited for him to drop her off – they are ill-equipped to handle children – and then apprehended the father, Weinberger said. He didn’t get a telephone call. Undocumented immigrants have no rights. His wife had no idea where he was. An ABLE lawyer, Maya said, spelled out what under the law someone stopped can do. He encouraged people to videotape their encounters. But someone in attendance said he’d be concerned that doing that would influence his treatment later. Maya said the lawyer was blunt: “I can only tell you what the law says you can do. What is actually going to happen with this particular agent I don’t know.” There are an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country. Not all are Mexican, Weinberger noted. Nor are all farm workers. Service industries, food processing, all use undocumented workers. Maya said that an influx of Mexicans came to the United States after the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The trade deal disrupted the agricultural economy by opening the country up to cheap food imports from the United States. Also a growing culture of violence forced others to flee. And there was a demand here for cheap labor, she said. Recruiters set up shop south of the border to entice people to come to the United States. “People would get here and say ‘I want to get my papers.’ They were coming and didn’t know there was no chance to get them,” said Maya, who worked for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee for 20 years. Weinberger said when she was in high…

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 doesn’t matter” if you are tired. As an adult, Velasquez has fought for decent pay for farm laborers through FLOC. “Give us a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. That’s all we want.” Using boycotts and other strategies, FLOC fought in the past for the laborers in the fields and scored victories over giants like Campbell Soup, Vlasic and Mount Olive pickles. Velasquez is still fighting for farm workers – now working to allow them to stay in the U.S. He has heard it all from the other side. “What don’t you understand about illegal?” he has been asked. If Americans don’t want Mexicans here, then maybe they should reconsider policies such as NAFTA, which displaced many Mexican workers and caused an explosion of immigration to the U.S., he explained. Thousands of Mexican farmers could no longer compete with the American farmers who have far better equipment and the benefit of government subsidies, Velasquez said. “There is no wall, no impediment that can get in a man or woman’s way to feed their families,” he said. “If you don’t want them to come here, let’s talk about not displacing them.” Velasquez has also heard the arguments about Mexican workers taking jobs from American citizens. “If you’re good enough,” he said, “you’ll get the job. Why are you afraid of competition from a bunch of uneducated Mexicans?” And to be frank, jobs picking pickles and tomatoes don’t really seem to attract many white applicants. While many Americans are driving by in their air-conditioned cars on 90 degree days, “these folks are over there, stooping over” and picking from sunrise to sunset in the blistering sun. It’s estimated that 12…

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. But that raised another concern for McOmber, who didn’t want city council to take a position on the national debate. “I was afraid we were taking some position on undocumented immigrants,” he said. “I don’t think it’s city council’s job to figure that out.” So the wording was tweaked to say council was opposed to “unjustified deportation” of immigrants. Gordon said the resolution was written specifically with the immigrant population in mind, and wasn’t intended to encompass all marginalized groups. The city recently passed an anti-Islamaphobia resolution, and already protects the LGBT community under a city ordinance. With the revised wording, council passed the resolution unanimously Monday evening. “We want to present a united front,” Gordon said. Council member Scott Seeliger supported the resolution, but stressed that it should not be misconstrued as a problem here in Bowling Green. “Bowling Green, since I’ve been here, has always welcomed with open arms every person who lives here,” Seeliger said. “We’re just reinforcing what we’ve always been.” Though undocumented immigration is a national issue, council member John Zanfardino said the city needs to take a stand locally. “People are living with a new level of fear in Bowling Green and everywhere,” Zanfardino said. “It’s a national nightmare.” Council member Sandy Rowland spoke in support of immigrants in the community. “I see a great value in our immigrants,” she said. Rowland said Bowling Green is currently experiencing a shortage of skilled labor. Immigrants could help solve that problem. “We’re reaching out to be the best we can be.” Council members Mike Aspacher and Bruce Jeffers thanked the LaConexion organization and the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission for their help with the resolution.

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 staged to find an individual netted eight people. People are apprehended after traffic stops. La Conexion’s efforts to get members of the immigrant community more engaged in public life are no dormant, since people wish to stay under the radar. Instead, she said, the group is working with people to plan for the possibility that a family member, maybe a parent with children, is deported. Of those considered undocumented, 66 percent have been here for 10 or more years. They have homes and children, Maya said. La Conexion is organizing an Immigration Solidarity Committee. “We think that people who are non-immigrants are now in a safer position to advocate on behalf of the immigrant community,” Maya said. “The solidarity work is very crucial.” She said a similar effort on campus is also planned. Maya said La Conexion is also working with the city and local law enforcement to put safeguards in place for the undocumented immigrants. Mollo said in discussing these people he prefers the term “undocumentable” instead of “undocumented.” He said his job at ABLE – Advocates for Basic Legal Equality – involves in part helping people to climb the ladder to citizenship. Naturalization should be the goal for immigrants. That gives them full membership in civic society, including the vote and the right to run from office as well as freedom from the fear of being deported. That’s not true of green card holders or those with visas. That ladder, however, is broken he said. Current law puts undocumentable immigrants in a position where they cannot legalize their status without opening themselves up to being deported. People are under the impression that undocumentable immigrants could attain legal status…

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 what it truly means to be an academic, which I am now trying to pass on to my students. … He has made me genuinely believe in and adopt the pedagogical value that each student in college deserves hearty and sincere guidance.” Gonzalez said that the honor for him is also gives affirmation and encouragement to faculty of color and students of color. Gonzalez has built his career on the scholarship in intercultural communication studies. He’s written books and articles and is the co-author of one of the most prominent texts “Our Voices: Culture, Ethnicity, and Communication,” now in its sixth edition with a seventh in the works. Gonzalez learned early what it is to be ethnic. His mother died when he was 5, so he was raised by his father. His father, who worked for Whirlpool, had firm ideas about assimilation. Though Gonzalez said he only spoke Spanish until he was 4, his father insisted his sons speak English. “He was afraid if we grew up speaking Spanish instead of English, if we were too ethnic, that we wouldn’t be successful in school, that we wouldn’t go to college,” Gonzalez said. “He tried to hook us up with majority culture and mainstream us as much as possible. Now he feels completely vindicated.” Gonzalez is a Distinguished University professor, and his brother, Gil, is director of photographic services at the Hayes Center in Fremont, and also is an author. His father encouraged them to read and allowed them to buy whatever books they wanted. He didn’t care what they were reading as long as they were reading. They developed their strong language skills. Still “we felt in between. We didn’t…

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 said. “This is an attack against immigrants.” Maya explained that many residents from Mexico came to the U.S. after NAFTA was enacted. Workers were needed to perform the back-breaking low-paying jobs that most Americans wouldn’t accept. Many suffered exploitation, and now under Trump they are suffering criminalization. “We are rapists, we bring drugs,” she said, referring to Trump’s characterization of immigrants from Mexico. Marsha Olivarez warned that without labor from Mexico, many U.S. businesses will be hurting. “This country was built on the back of these people,” Olivarez said. “These people are doing jobs that Americans will not do.” Olivarez and others urged citizens to take a stand. “I implore you to fight against this administration,” she said. Al Gonzalez, president of La Conexion, said Sunday’s rally was one way to stand up for immigrants. “We wanted to send a message to the community that this is a welcoming community. This is not a place of hate,” Gonzalez said. “We can’t live in fear.” Gonzalez also stressed the value of immigrants in Bowling Green. “To have a diverse community is helpful to everyone. Employers need a dependable workforce.” Five members of Bowling Green City Council spoke at the rally. Council President Mike Aspacher noted the efforts made by several organizations – La Conexion, Not In Our Town, the Human Relations Commission, and Bowling Green Police Division – to make the city welcome “for all those who call this place home.” Roger Grant, a member of the Human Relations Commission, said the city is committed to diversity and acceptance. “It’s a place that is welcoming, safe and inclusive for all residents,” Grant said. “Where you can live and thrive and be…

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 to express her opposition, though after the meeting she said she was not ready to say she approved. The resolution contained issues, especially regarding campus police, that she would have to discuss with her cabinet, including the university counsel. The resolution was amended before being passed. A provision requiring Homeland Security, Border Patrol and Immigrant and Customs officials on campus for recruiting be dressed in plain clothes and be unarmed was stricken from the resolution. Valeria Grinberg Pla, of Romance Languages, said that their presence “might very much frighten people who are risk.” Allen Rogel, who teaches astronomy, questioned the rationale behind that part of the resolution. “Wouldn’t it much more comforting to know they are on campus, and not undercover?” Michelle Heckman, director of the Math Emporium, said that provision discriminated against those agents by applying a standard to them not applied to others. Derek Mason, of Sociology, said that criminal justice students had expressed concern about restricting recruiting by those agencies on campus. Rogel later made the motion that excised that and made two wording changes. The words “unless compelled by federal warrant” were added to the section: “whereby Campus Police will not engage in helping the federal government with deportations or inquiring as to the immigration status of students.” Mason questioned whether the provision was at odds with the laws that campus police are sworn to uphold. Also, the call for the university to support legal challenges to the Jan. 27 executive order was broadened to cover “similar executive orders.” That came just as news was emerging of a new Trump Administration executive order on immigration that weakened some provisions of the first, but also called for greater enforcement. As noted, by Jim Evans, of Geology, the resolution has no force of law. Ultimately policy is determined by…