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 rundown of the various pieces of legislation addressing DACA. The Dream Act, she said, “is the one to fight for. It covers the most people. … It essentially expands what we have under DACA.”
La Conexion members visited U.S. Rep. Bob Latta’s field office recently, but came away without a clear idea about where the Republican congressman stood.
The committee also has several projects in the works. Linda Lander explained she is working with the Wood County Public Library on compiling oral histories, both audio and videotaped, documenting the family immigration stories of area residents.
La Conexion is sponsoring two upcoming events.
On Saturday, Oct. 14 from 6 p.m. to midnight, there will be a celebration of Hispanic Heritage at the Veterans Building in City Park with dance, music and food.
On Thursday, Nov. 2 from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Steve Tobocman, of Global Detroit, will speak on “Building Global: Welcoming Immigration and Economic Growth” at the Wood County Library.