WBEZ | Latinos http://www.wbez.org/tags/latinos Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Swept from their homes, Chicago's Latinos built new community http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/45010154&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Chicago is famous for its ethnic neighborhoods. And there&rsquo;s a funny thing about them. A neighborhood&rsquo;s identity can seem like it has been in place <em>forever</em>, even when big ethnic shifts took place just one or two generations ago. This is how many Chicagoans see Pilsen and Little Village, a corridor with the biggest concentration of Latinos in the Midwest. These neighborhoods have so much vitality &mdash; dense housing, bustling commercial strips, packed playgrounds &mdash; that it seems like Latinos must have been there for ages. A curious citizen named <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#CM">CM! Winters-Palacio</a> was wondering how long, so she asked us:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why are Latinos concentrated in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods? When did it happen?</em></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/LUCY%20FINAL.jpg" style="float: right; height: 328px; width: 400px;" title="Near West Side resident Rosie Valtierra holds her goddaughter there on the day of her baptism in the mid-1950s. City Hall has embarked on massive construction projects that will raze much of the area. Valtierra and many other displaced Latinos will end up in Pilsen. (Photo courtesy of Rosemarie Sierra)" />We answered the <em>when</em> part of the question just by looking at census numbers: Pilsen did not become mostly Latino until the 1960s; Little Village didn&rsquo;t until the 1970s. Answering <em>why</em> those changes happened took a little more work. We interviewed experts, searched newspaper archives, pounded Pilsen&rsquo;s pavement and tracked down some of the neighborhood&rsquo;s first Latino residents. In our audio story (above), Lucy Gutiérrez, 87, tells us about bringing her family to Pilsen when the place was still populated mainly by Central and Eastern European descendants &mdash; including the Bohemians whose forebears named it after Plzeň, a city in what is now the Czech Republic. Our research also led to some text snapshots from the history. The snapshots begin on Chicago&rsquo;s Near West Side, which included the city&rsquo;s largest Latino enclave just a few decades ago.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">In old neighborhood, the beginning of the end</span></strong></p><p><strong>FEBRUARY 15, 1949</strong>: A Chicago housing official complains about residents refusing to leave a 14-block stretch from Desplaines to Paulina streets to make way for a new superhighway along Chicago&rsquo;s Congress Street. The official, Detlef E. Mackelmann, says some would not go &ldquo;until the buildings next door were being torn down.&rdquo; The highway&rsquo;s first section, completed in 1955, will displace thousands of people. It will be among several massive construction projects that will raze much of the Near West Side, including a Mexican neighborhood that dates back to the 1920s. The projects will include three expressways, a university campus and public-housing developments. Some of those Mexicans will move to Pilsen, a neighborhood just south. They will form the nucleus of what will become a much bigger Latino community. The Congress highway, for its part, will eventually be named the Eisenhower Expressway.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 11px;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources">1</a></strong></span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1%20TAYLOR%20STREET%20FINAL.jpg" style="margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1%20TAYLOR%20STREET%20PIES%20FINAL.jpg" style="margin-left: 0px; margin-right: 0px;" title="(WBEZ illustrations by Erik Nelson Rodriguez)" /></div></div><p><br /><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">White exodus from Pilsen makes room for newcomers</span></strong></p><p><strong>OCTOBER 18, 1953</strong>: St. Procopius, a 72-year-old Czech parish in Pilsen, rededicates its school with a Sunday dinner. The meal includes turkey, dumplings, sauerkraut, rye bread and kolacky. The music includes the Czech anthem &quot;Kde domov můj?&quot; and an Antonín Dvořák composition. Although the school has begun to enroll some of Pilsen&rsquo;s first Latino children, today&rsquo;s program includes no hint of their cultures. And Rev. Peter Mizera, the St. Procopius priest, has been complaining to the archdiocese about &ldquo;the recent infiltration of the Mexicans.&rdquo; But Pilsen&rsquo;s white population is declining and growing older as young families head to suburbs. St. Procopius and other parishes will have to open their doors to Latinos. By 1955, six Pilsen parochial schools will be enrolling Mexican children. Over the next two decades, several Pilsen parishes will retool themselves, sending priests to learn Spanish in Mexico, building altars and shrines to the Virgin of Guadalupe, even bringing mariachi music into masses. Some other parishes, slow to adapt, will close.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 11px;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources">2</a></strong></span></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Campus construction pushes more Latinos into Pilsen</span></strong></p><p><strong>MARCH 19, 1961</strong>: Led by a mariachi band, hundreds of Mexican protesters march from St. Francis of Assisi Church and tie up Near West Side traffic. The protesters slam a City Hall plan to replace their neighborhood with a University of Illinois campus. They blame Mayor Richard J. Daley and shout, &ldquo;Down with Daley,&rdquo; &ldquo;Daley sold us out&rdquo; and &ldquo;Respeten nuestros hogares&rdquo; (Respect our homes). The protest is part of a much larger effort to derail the university plan. Italians, the area&rsquo;s biggest ethnic group, are leading the resistance but Mexicans are also visible. Roughly 4,800 of them live in the census tracts the city wants the university to take over. The resistance will fail. On May 10, the City Council will designate 106 acres for the campus. Some of the Mexicans will move a few blocks west, but campus expansions will displace them again. Many will end up in Pilsen. The University of Illinois Chicago Circle Campus, meanwhile, will open in 1965.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 11px;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources">3</a></strong></span></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Chicano movement builds neighborhood&rsquo;s new identity</span></strong></p><p><strong>APRIL 24, 1969</strong>: More than 100 residents of Chicago&rsquo;s Pilsen neighborhood gather for a public meeting of the Latin American Alliance for Social Advancement, known by its Spanish acronym, ALAS. The meeting occurs at Howell House, a community center focused for decades on Czech immigrants. At the meeting, ALAS endorses Arthur Vázquez to lead Howell House; he will be its first Mexican-American director. The meeting also develops strategies to improve Pilsen schools, expose police brutality and publicize a national grape boycott. The organizing reflects two major changes in Pilsen. First, Mexicans have been pouring into the neighborhood for two decades. Along with the arrivals from the Near West Side, many have come from South Texas or various parts of Mexico. A smaller Latino group in Pilsen has roots in Puerto Rico. The 1970 census will record the neighborhood&rsquo;s first Latino majority. The other big change is the rise of the Chicano civil-rights movement. Reflecting that change, Howell House will get a new name: Casa Aztlán. <span style="font-size: 11px;"><b><u>4</u></b></span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2%20MEETING%20TONIGHT%20FINAL.jpg" title="" /></p><p><strong style="font-size: 22px;">Latino community expands west to Little Village</strong></p><p><strong>OCTOBER 30, 1979</strong>: At the urging of Latinos and veterans, the Chicago Park District board agrees to a proposed memorial plaza honoring Manuel Pérez Jr., a World War II hero killed by enemy fire at age 22 and posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Pérez grew up on the city&rsquo;s Near West Side long before his neighborhood was razed and before many of its Mexican residents moved to Pilsen. The city will build the plaza in 1980 in Little Village, a Southwest Side neighborhood known as the &ldquo;Mexican suburb&rdquo; because of its proximity to Pilsen, its larger homes, and its fast-growing Latino population. Next year&rsquo;s census will show that Latinos constitute the majority of Little Village residents. The Pilsen and Little Village corridor now has the largest concentration of Latinos in the Midwest.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 11px;"><b><u>5</u></b></span><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/3%20PLAZA%20FINAL.jpg" title="" /></p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Neighborhoods help put Latino in Congress</strong></span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/web%20PilsenFoundGutierrez1crop_0.jpg" style="height: 242px; width: 190px; float: left;" title="" /><strong>MARCH 17, 1992</strong>: In a Democratic primary election for U.S. House, Chicago Ald. Luis V. Gutiérrez (26th Ward) easily defeats his strongest challenger, Juan Soliz. A 1990 court order required a Chicago district with a Latino majority. Shaped like an earmuff, the district covers the Pilsen-Little Village corridor and Puerto Rican neighborhoods on the Northwest Side. Gutiérrez, who was an ally of the late Mayor Harold Washington, has Mayor Richard M. Daley&rsquo;s backing in the Congressional race. After the general election, Gutiérrez will become the first Midwest Latino in the House. Although his family is from Puerto Rico, whose residents are born with U.S. citizenship, Gutiérrez will champion immigrant political causes and maintain strong support in Pilsen and Little Village. <span style="font-size: 11px;"><b><u>6</u></b></span></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Pilsen remains Latino, but for how long?</span></strong></p><p><strong>MAY 20, 1997</strong>: In the name of job creation, Ald. Danny Solis (25th) leads a rally for a plan that would extend the University of Illinois at Chicago southward to the edge of Pilsen. The Daley administration, meanwhile, is planning a tax-increment financing district to boost industry in Pilsen. Some residents are linking those efforts to gentrification on the neighborhood&rsquo;s east end. Those residents say the changes are threatening Pilsen&rsquo;s Mexican-American character and pushing rents and property taxes too high. This summer, artists led by Hector Duarte (<span style="font-size: 11px;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources">7</a></strong></span>) will transform an outdoor wall at 1805 S. Bishop St. into a colorful mural called &ldquo;Stop Gentrification in Pilsen.&rdquo;&nbsp;The mural will depict United Farm Workers co-founder César Chávez and Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata flanking a multigenerational Pilsen family, a pushcart vendor and anti-gentrification protesters. Such efforts will not stop affluent newcomers from moving into Pilsen but, for years to come, the neighborhood will remain the cultural heart of the Chicago area&rsquo;s Mexican-American community. <span style="font-size:11px;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538#sources">8</a></strong></span></p><p style="margin:0in;margin-bottom:.0001pt"><span style="color:red"><o:p></o:p></span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4%20MURAL%20FINAL.jpg" title="" /></p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;"><a name="CM"></a>Our question comes from: CM! Winters-Palacio</span></strong></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cm winters FINAL.jpg" style="height: 194px; width: 185px; float: left;" title="" />African-Americans in Chicago cannot help but look at the city&rsquo;s most heavily Latino neighborhoods with some envy, according to WBEZ listener CM! Winters-Palacio, who lives in Auburn Gresham, a South Side neighborhood. &ldquo;If you drive through Little Village or Pilsen, they&rsquo;re thriving with little local stores,&rdquo; she says. &ldquo;When you go on the South Side, it&rsquo;s a totally different experience.&rdquo;</p><p>Winters-Palacio chairs Malcolm X College&rsquo;s library department and tells us her interests include community development and racial segregation. So what does she think of our answer to her question? Pilsen&rsquo;s Latino identity is &ldquo;relatively new,&rdquo; Winters-Palacio says. &ldquo;It helps dispel one of the myths.&rdquo; Namely, that a strong community must have long historical roots.<a id="sources"> </a>Winters-Palacio says Pilsen and Little Village provide hope for her part of town.</p><p><strong><span style="font-size:22px;">Notes</span></strong></p><p><strong>1.</strong> Lilia Fernández, <em>Brown in the Windy City: Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in Postwar Chicago</em> (University of Chicago Press, 2012). &ldquo;City&rsquo;s &lsquo;DPs&rsquo; sit tight in path of big projects: Evacuation notices just a &lsquo;wolf cry&rsquo; to them,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> (February 16, 1949). <strong>2.</strong> Deborah Kanter, &ldquo;Making Mexican Parishes: Ethnic Succession in Chicago Churches, 1947-1977,&rdquo; <em>U.S. Catholic Historian, Volume 301:1</em> (Catholic University of America Press, 2012).&nbsp;<strong>3.</strong>&nbsp;&ldquo;Protest rally today against U. of I. campus,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> (March 20, 1961). &ldquo;Council OKs W. Side U. of I. site, 41 to 3: Crowd in gallery boos action, vows fight,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> (May 11, 1961). Fernández, op. cit. <strong>4.</strong>&nbsp;Fernández, op. cit. Administrative History, Bethlehem Howell Neighborhood Center collection, Special Collections and University Archives, University of Illinois at Chicago. <strong>5.</strong>&nbsp;&ldquo;New post of Legion honors Mexican-American hero slain on Luzon,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> (June 30, 1946). &ldquo;Slain vet who killed 75 Japs is honored in memorial service,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Daily Tribune</em> (February 14, 1949). &ldquo;Ordinance requesting the City of Chicago to convey the Manuel Pérez Jr. Plaza to the Chicago Park District,&rdquo; <em>Journal of the Proceedings of the Board of Commissioners of the Chicago Park District, </em>1979-1980. <strong>6.</strong> John Kass, &ldquo;Gutiérrez picks up Daley&rsquo;s backing for Congress,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Tribune</em> (December 10, 1991). Lou Ortiz, &ldquo;Gutiérrez coasts toward big win in Hispanic district race,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> (March 18, 1992). <strong>7.</strong>&nbsp;Editor&#39;s Note: Duarte is married to WBEZ reporter Linda Lutton. <strong>8.</strong> Gary Marx, &ldquo;Opposition brewing to UIC expansion; proposal may drive out the poor, foes say,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Tribune</em> (March 12, 1997). Ernest Tucker, &ldquo;Latinos urge UIC to move forward with expansion,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em> (May 21, 1997). Teresa Puente, &ldquo;Pilsen fears upscale push may shove many out,&rdquo; <em>Chicago Tribune</em> (November 4, 1997).</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a>&nbsp;is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1" target="_blank">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud</a>. <a href="http://twitter.com/ero_nel" target="_blank">Erik Nelson Rodrigue</a><a href="http://twitter.com/ero_nel" target="_blank">z</a>&nbsp;is an&nbsp;illustrator and graphic designer in Chicago.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:21:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/swept-their-homes-chicagos-latinos-built-new-community-110538 Study finds high-achieving minorities shun teaching http://www.wbez.org/news/study-finds-high-achieving-minorities-shun-teaching-108963 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Teacher diversity_131018_oy.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A <a href="http://www.siue.edu/ierc/">decade-long study of more than 225,000 Illinois public high school graduates</a> finds many reasons that minorities are not becoming teachers. The Illinois Education Research Council at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville&nbsp;tracked the classes of 2002 and 2003 as they moved beyond high school and into their careers. The study sheds light on where students, including African-American and Latino graduates, drop out of that pipeline.</p><p>Illinois education officials have been wrestling with a significant mismatch between the number of minority teachers and the number of minority students in the state&rsquo;s public schools. While almost half of students are non-white, more than 80 percent of their teachers are Caucasian. A <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/push-teacher-quality-illinois-takes-toll-minority-candidates-108601">recent push to increase teacher quality standards </a>threatens to exacerbate the difference.</p><p>The Illinois Education Research Council study, meanwhile, finds that while roughly one-third of Illinois public high school graduates earned a Bachelor&rsquo;s degree, only 3 percent became teachers. Within the pool of 4-year college degree earners, minorities went on to become teachers in Illinois public schools at a noticeably lower rate than their white counterparts.</p><p>&ldquo;The minority numbers were actually surprising to me,&rdquo; said Brad White, lead researcher on the study. &ldquo;I sort of went into the study thinking that a lot of that story could be told simply by looking at different rates of enrollment and graduation from college. And that wasn&rsquo;t the case at all.&rdquo;</p><p>White said minority graduates with Bachelor&rsquo;s degrees, and particularly those who fell into the top third of ACT scores, opted to earn teaching certificates at lower rates than similarly qualified white students. And beyond that, African-Americans who did receive teaching certificates were less likely to get teaching positions in Illinois public schools.</p><p>White suggested that the state could increase its pool of minority teachers by recruiting promising students into the profession as early as high school. He said the state could also focus on improving educational opportunities for minority students before they get to college.</p><p>&ldquo;We might be able to see changes in the number of those students that are interested in pursuing teaching as a career if the career is perceived as more prestigious and more difficult to enter,&rdquo; White added. This is an approach state officials say they are trying to take, by increasing testing standards required to enter the profession.</p><p>A spokesperson for the Illinois State Board of Education noted that the state encourages colleges and universities to partner with local school districts to recruit diverse students into the teaching profession, and that the state has expanded funding for Teach for America recruitment. The study found that alternative certification programs such as TFA appear to be good pathways for academically gifted minorities into the teaching profession.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a>.</em></p><p>Note: This article incorrectly stated that the Illinois Education Research Council is at Southeastern Illinois University in Edwardsville. It is at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.</p></p> Fri, 18 Oct 2013 10:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/study-finds-high-achieving-minorities-shun-teaching-108963 Immigration reform advocates look for votes in conservative Indiana http://www.wbez.org/news/immigration-reform-advocates-look-votes-conservative-indiana-108241 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/335310324_7c3f4ded1a_z.jpg" title="Despite having some of the toughest laws in the country, reform advocates are looking to Indiana's GOP Congressional delegation to help tip the balance in this year’s immigration fight. (Flickr/Editor B)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F103365168" width="100%"></iframe></p><p dir="ltr">After passing in the U.S. Senate in June, comprehensive immigration reform has come to a screeching halt in the House of Representatives. Now reform advocates are looking for votes from GOP lawmakers from states like Indiana to help push it through.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You come to Indiana, and it&rsquo;s totally different (than in Illinois). Our political landscape is more Republican than it is Democrat and so we face a different sort of challenge,&rdquo; said immigrant rights activist Jesusa Rivera of South Bend.</p><p dir="ltr">Much of Indiana thinks of itself almost as a border state fighting a tide of immigrants who came here illegally. That notion was evident two years ago when Hoosier lawmakers passed Senate bill 590 which was modeled after the Arizona law cracking down on illegal immigrants.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/immg1.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Immigrant rights activist Jesusa Rivera, right, stands with U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, a Republican from Indiana. Walorski is feeling pressure from both sides of the immigration reform debate. (Photo provided by Jesusa Rivera) " />Portions of Indiana&rsquo;s law has been struck down by the courts, and the debate over immigration has now moved from the states to the national level. The U.S. Senate passed a much ballyhooed bipartisan bill last month, but its fate is far from certain in the GOP-controlled House.</p><p dir="ltr">And that&rsquo;s where Indiana comes in. If even one of the state&rsquo;s seven Republican representatives was open to reform, it could signal a gradual shift within the party and provide a crucial vote in the House.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">But it won&rsquo;t be easy.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s absolutely insane to give amnesty to 11 million illegals at a time when we have over 20 million who are under and unemployed, said Cheree Calabro, an anti-reform advocate. &ldquo;I think we need to take care of our own people first and granting amnesty is not going to help anyone.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Calabro lives in Valparaiso, Ind., about an hour east of Chicago, and is a member of the <a href="http://www.ifire.org/">Indiana Federation for Immigration Reform and Enforcement</a>. She and other conservative activists are watching the immigration debate closely.</p><p dir="ltr">But so is Rivera, who worked on farms as a migrant worker, even as a child. She says this issue is personal.</p><p>&ldquo;This isn&rsquo;t really about politics, it&rsquo;s about people, it&rsquo;s about human beings, it&rsquo;s about us. The politics just happens to play in the game but it&rsquo;s about human lives,&rdquo; Rivera said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s what really at stake.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Many of those people who Rivera assists are immigrants who attend church at St. Adalbert Roman Catholic Church on South Bend&rsquo;s predominately Latino West Side.</p><p>On a recent Sunday hundreds of undocumented immigrants worshiped with prayers and songs in their native Spanish, without worry of arrest. Teresa (who asked us not to use her last name) prays for a pathway to citizenship for her and her teenage son Jorge. They&rsquo;ve lived in Indiana for years.</p><p>&ldquo;Reform is very important so that me and others like me can come out of the shadows,&rdquo; Teresa said in Spanish.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/immg4.jpg" style="float: right; height: 425px; width: 300px;" title="Crista, back left, attends Mass with her three American born siblings. They pray for immigration reform for their parents who are undocumented. (WBEZ/Michael Puente) " />Also attending Mass was 18-year-old Crista and her three American born siblings &mdash; Crista says her parents are here illegally.</p><p>&ldquo;My dad has to be extra cautious when driving. My mom has to be extra cautious when looking for jobs and things like that. That&rsquo;s a big deal. It&rsquo;s a struggle for us,&rdquo; said Crista, who also asked that her last name not be used.</p><p dir="ltr">Crista worries that the bill in Congress may never get across the finish line.</p><p>&ldquo;We try to keep up to date, my dad, my mom. We were still hoping for reform but the ways things are going, we&rsquo;re doubting,&rdquo; Crista said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s just been years and years of waiting.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">This year was supposed to be different. After President Obama won reelection with a majority of the Hispanic vote, Republican leaders like Marco Rubio said the party had to get behind immigration reform. So did traditional GOP backers like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.</p><p dir="ltr">Kevin Brinegar is executive director of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;This issue has stagnated for far too long. The status quo, the current situation, has been harmful to our economy,&rdquo; Brinegar said. &ldquo;They want very strongly for Congress to address immigration reform.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Brinegar points to a <a href="http://www.nwitimes.com/results-of-indiana-immigration-survey-by-harper-polling/pdf_5a4a1f1a-0a8b-536a-a0b7-429c5a43fdf6.html">recent poll</a> that showed 60 percent of Hoosiers support some type of reform.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think in some circles (immigration reform) is divisive,&rdquo; Brinegar said. &ldquo;But I think a strong majority of Hoosiers want Congress to enact immigration reform and get some of these issues resolved so that in part we can move on to more pressing issues.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But the question remains: where will they get the votes?</p><p dir="ltr">One might come from U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, a Republican from near Elkhart who represents Indiana&rsquo;s 2nd Congressional District.</p><p>In recent talks with Walorski, Rivera says the freshman congresswoman has been surprisingly open to talking about reform.</p><p dir="ltr">According to Rivera, Walorski is sensitive to the plight of immigrants from her years as a Christian missionary overseas.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;[She is familiar with] the challenge of coming back home and meeting with families from Romania who overstayed their visa and were trying to get back on track,&rdquo; Rivera said. &ldquo;So the challenge there was the actual system, the process. So, she understood that.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Walorski declined to be interviewed, but in a statement to WBEZ, the Congresswoman said the nation&rsquo;s immigration system is broken but needs a thoughtful approach to fixing it. The statement called for tighter security along the U.S.-Mexican border, along with an enhanced Visa program.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/immg2.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Many of South Bend’s undocumented community attend Mass at St. Adalbert Church. There they pray for immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship. (WBEZ/Michael Puente) " />Earlier this year on FOX News, Walorski spoke about the need for some kind of reform.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I believe if there&rsquo;s ever a time to actually have an honest conversation about immigration, it&rsquo;s now,&rdquo;Walorski told FOX News. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to be between now and early summer. If that window passes, then it&rsquo;s probably going to be a long time before we have open ears on both sides.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">That has conservative activists like Cheree Calabro worried. Calabro says she&rsquo;ll keep close tabs on Walorski and other Hoosier lawmakers.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The amnesty bill is so bad that anyone who votes for it is going to have a problem come re-election time include Ms. Walorski,&rdquo; Calabro said. &ldquo;Jackie Walorski was very much against illegal immigration when she was in the General Assembly. And, I&rsquo;m getting a sense from her that something has changed.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">One thing that&rsquo;s changed is the voter demographics of Walorski&rsquo;s 2nd District.</p><p>In 2012 Walorski won her race by just a single percentage point. This, in a district that&rsquo;s 8 percent Latino and growing.</p><p><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Follow WBEZ&rsquo;s Northwest Indiana reporter Michael Puente on Twitter </span><a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" style="text-decoration: none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(102, 193, 186); background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@</span><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(0, 153, 140); background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">MikePuenteNews</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.</span></p></p> Wed, 31 Jul 2013 09:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/immigration-reform-advocates-look-votes-conservative-indiana-108241 Legislators warn residents of compromises on immigration reform http://www.wbez.org/news/legislators-warn-residents-compromises-immigration-reform-106512 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/DurbinGutierrez_130405_acm(1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Luis Gutierrez Thursday warned that a senate immigration reform bill in the works might not address all of the problems facing residents living illegally in the United States.</p><p>They spoke to residents of the predominantly Latino neighborhood of Little Village in Chicago. They shared their optimism about a proposal from the team of bipartisan senators scheduled to come out next week. It offers a path to citizenship.</p><p>Senator Durbin said his ideal comprehensive package will be trimmed during negotiations at the nation&#39;s capital. The fundamentals, however, aren&#39;t up for debate.</p><p>&ldquo;We said to everybody, every senator walking into that room, before you sit down, you have to commit,&rdquo; Durbin said. &ldquo;That when this is over, these people will have the opportunity to become legal and then become citizens, and they say &lsquo;yes.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But in a recent New York Times editorial co-authored with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gutierrez also expressed concern about farm workers and the possibility of a guest-worker program.</p><p>According to news reports, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce&nbsp; and the AFL-CIO have agreed on a work visa program that requires companies to pay immigrant workers fair wages.&nbsp;</p><p>Gutierrez hinted during a small gathering with constituents on Thursday that any proposal written by members in his chamber needs to addresses those issues.</p><p>The gathering took place at Enlace Chicago, a local community organization. Students and their parents shared their stories and asked both Durbin and Gutierrez to keep their concerns in mind.</p><p>Karen Canales is a current senior at Social Justice High School. She said President Obama&rsquo;s recent Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program does not really give her the opportunities she needs to move forward in her career.</p><p>&ldquo;The derefer action doesn&rsquo;t guarantee any FAFSA, any government loans for me to continue my education,&rdquo; Canales said.</p><p>Justina Alfaro is also a senior from Farragut Career Academy. She said eight years ago her dad was deported back to Mexico for not having a driver&rsquo;s license. She said she hopes the new immigration proposals will focus on reuniting families.</p><p>&ldquo; I was 11 years old when I saw that my dad was being arrested,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s been difficult for my family&nbsp; and for me because he was the support of the house.&rdquo;</p><p>Senator Durbin said if an agreement on immigration reform is reached, the bill will go to the Judiciary committee to start an amendment process.&nbsp; Meanwhile, Gutierrez said a House bill could be coming soon after the Senate&rsquo;s proposal.</p></p> Fri, 05 Apr 2013 10:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/legislators-warn-residents-compromises-immigration-reform-106512 Some undocumented immigrants fear applying for Illinois licenses http://www.wbez.org/news/some-undocumented-immigrants-fear-applying-illinois-licenses-104617 <p><p>When Illinois&#39; top political leaders touted a proposal to allow illegal immigrants to obtain driver&#39;s licenses, it was painted as public safety measure and had the backing of immigrant rights advocates, who deemed it a positive step in the fight for immigration reform.</p><p>But the idea has run into some resistance among illegal immigrants themselves.</p><p>For many of Illinois&#39; estimated 250,000 undocumented residents of driving age, volunteering an address, photograph and birth certificate to a state database seems like a risk, possibly more than driving without a license.</p><p>&quot;They will have my record, maybe one day they (authorities) will just stop me,&quot; said 19-year-old Faviola Villagomez, who was brought illegally to the U.S. from Mexico as a child. The Chicago college student said she&#39;d be hesitant to apply because it could make her and her six siblings &mdash; none of whom are citizens &mdash; more easily identifiable for deportation.</p><p>Mistrust of authorities in immigrant circles is not a new phenomenon, but the proposal expected to come up for a vote before lawmakers next month has reignited concerns and could potentially affect how many would apply if it becomes law.</p><p>Immigrant rights advocates acknowledge the problem, even as they support the measure and gear up for community outreach.</p><p>&quot;There is a distrust,&quot; said Cristobal Cavazos a leader of Immigrant Solidarity DuPage. &quot;People are concerned.&quot;</p><p>The proposal sailed through the state Senate with little opposition and could be called for a vote in the House as early as Jan. 7. Gov. Pat Quinn has already said that he&#39;ll sign it if it gets to his desk.</p><p>A key sponsor, state Rep. Edward Acevedo, dismissed the concerns of some illegal immigrants, saying their fears were unfounded. The Chicago Democrat said the bill is a matter of public safety, not immigration reform. Making sure drivers know the rules of the road and are insured would reduce accidents and keep insurance costs from rising.</p><p>&quot;This is not about helping illegal immigrants here in this country,&quot; he said. &quot;This is about helping protect our citizens here in Illinois.&quot;</p><p>If it becomes law, Illinois would join New Mexico and Washington in allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver&#39;s licenses. Utah issues permits and a handful of other states are considering proposals.</p><p>Under the Illinois proposal, the licenses would be modeled after the state&#39;s temporary visitor driver&#39;s licenses. They&#39;re granted to non-citizens with legal status, such as foreign-born college students. The licenses are granted for three years instead of four, require a photograph and cost the applicant $30.</p><p>Anyone who applies would have to take the driver&#39;s exam &mdash; which requires an insured vehicle &mdash; and the written exam, and supply identification documents such as a birth certificate. The cards couldn&#39;t be used as identification and would look different than a regular license.</p><p>That worries the Rev. Jose Landaverde, one of Chicago&#39;s most vocal immigrant rights activists, who cautiously supports the legislation. He said the distinction could make immigrants a target, particularly in suburban and rural areas. Chicago is a sanctuary city where police aren&#39;t allowed to ask about immigration status.</p><p>&quot;We will see what happens,&quot; he said.</p><p>Backers of the legislation disagree, saying that licenses aren&#39;t a way to help federal immigration authorities. For one, the licenses would look like those of other groups in the country legally.</p><p>The state&#39;s largest immigrant advocacy group, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said they&#39;d do community outreach to encourage applying. The group has called the proposal a step forward for immigration reform.</p><p>While similar proposals have been floated in Illinois before, this plan gained momentum last month at a high-profile news conference just days after Republicans suffered devastating Election Day losses. Gov. Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and two Republicans, former Gov. Jim Edgar and Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, were among those who came out in favor.</p><p>The GOP blamed its defeats partially on failing to reach out to minorities and a lack of leadership on immigration reform, something ICIRR groups capitalized on. They say any legislation that addresses illegal immigrants resonates with minorities and immigrants who are citizens, both growing voting blocs.</p><p>&quot;Members of both parties have seen this is a practical common sense approach of dealing with the reality of undocumented living in our state,&quot; said Lawrence Benito, head of IICIRR. &quot;There isn&#39;t political will or enough money to deport 11 million people who are undocumented in this country. We need to address immigration laws at the federal level.&quot;</p><p>Not all illegal immigrants would be hesitant to apply. Mayra Sarabia, 37, said it would make her life easier.</p><p>She&#39;s been living in the country illegally since 1992 when she crossed the Mexican border. Her three children are U.S. citizens and she says every time she drives, it&#39;s a risk. She said she would rather rely on public transportation for her two-hour commute each way to work in the suburbs from Chicago, where she lives.</p><p>&quot;I definitely need a driver&#39;s license, it&#39;s the fear of every day getting out of the house, and wondering, &#39;Am I coming back?&#39;&quot; she said. &quot;We are all in the system. If you have a car, you&#39;re in the system. I have a bank account, I am in the system. The government knows where I live. ... If they want to deport everyone in the system, then they&#39;ll do it.&quot;</p></p> Sun, 30 Dec 2012 05:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/some-undocumented-immigrants-fear-applying-illinois-licenses-104617 Illinois Appellate Court welcomes first elected Latino Justice http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-appellate-court-welcomes-first-elected-latino-justice-104175 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Justice Reyes.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><span id="internal-source-marker_0.26012183292489943">The Illinois Appellate Court welcomed its first ever Latino elected to the bench this week.</span><br /><br />Jesse Reyes won a seat to the Illinois Appellate Court last March after serving more than a decade as a Cook County Circuit Court Judge. He was sworn in Monday afternoon in Chicago.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m so proud of the opportunity that I have been given by the voters to serve as Justice of the Illinois Appellate Court,&rdquo; Reyes said. &ldquo;And I&rsquo;m going to work my hardest to make all of them proud of me.&rdquo;<br /><br />In 2008, Reyes served as the first Latino president of the Illinois Judges Association and became the first Latino to win a county-wide judicial election in Cook County.<br /><br />Federico Rodriguez heads the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois. Rodriguez said Latinos represent 5 percent of the estimated 400 judges in Cook County.<br /><br />Rodriguez said even with Reyes&rsquo; election, the number of judges isn&rsquo;t reflective of the county&rsquo;s 24 percent Latino population.<br /><br />&ldquo;Jesse Reyes election is significant because we can see that a name like Reyes is electable where it wouldn&rsquo;t have been so before,&rdquo; Rodriguez said. &ldquo;So, it&rsquo;s a good thing, from our perspective. There&rsquo;s still a lot more work needs to be done.&rdquo;<br /><br />Reyes is proud of breaking these barriers, but said race shouldn&rsquo;t be the only focus.<br /><br />&ldquo;I was elected on my record, I was elected on my 14 years as a trial court judge with a diverse experience,&rdquo; Reyes said.<br /><br />Reyes said he hopes community outreach will inspire young people to pursue a career in the justice system.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;m going to make sure that we bring together the Illinois Appellate court and the community,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Not only the Hispanic community, but all minority communities together.&rdquo;</p></p> Tue, 04 Dec 2012 10:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-appellate-court-welcomes-first-elected-latino-justice-104175 Iowa Republican tries to kick Latinos off voter rolls http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/iowa-republican-tries-kick-latinos-voter-rolls-102539 <p><p>Thirty-one U.S. states currently have laws in place that <a href="http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/elections/voter-id.aspx">require voters to show some sort of ID</a>&nbsp;at the polls &mdash; almost all passed in the last three years by GOP state legislatures and enforced by Republican secretaries of state.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP301477436988.jpg" style="height: 194px; width: 300px; float: right; " title="Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz explains his theory of illegal registrants on the state voter rolls. (AP)" />Almost to a fault, the laws are designed to disenfranchise African-American voters (I know, I know, everybody says &ldquo;minority&rdquo; but what they mean is black urban voters of all ages).<br /><br />Iowa appeared to top the list in recent months as the 32nd state with new and restrictive voting laws, but with a twist: With more than <a href="http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/19000.html">93 percent of the state population reported as white</a> and blacks registering only 3 percent, GOP Secretary of State Matt Schultz aimed his directive at Iowa&#39;s Latinos.<br /><br />Hispanics are only five percent of the population in Iowa but they&rsquo;re suddenly crucial. Since the 2008 elections, in which they overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama, Latino <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/growing-latino-population-could-affect-presidential-election-in-unlikely-states-like-iowa/2012/09/12/3cb7dafa-fd05-11e1-98c6-ec0a0a93f8eb_story.html">voter rolls have increased</a> from 30,000 to more than 50,000 in the state.</p><p>And with Obama and Mitt Romney in a <a href="http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/author/nate-silver/">dead heat in Iowa</a>, those votes can&#39;t be ignored.<br /><br />So what did Schultz do? Well, first he decided he had an emergency on his hands&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;<em>a real, honest to God emergency</em>. Then he compared names on voter rolls to a state transportation database and determined he had 3,582 illegal registrants. How this comparison revealed that is, so far, Schultz&#39;s secret.<br /><br />He said he feared those <a href="http://kmaland.com/09491_Voter_cross-check_fight_continues_063454.asp">3,582 non-citizens</a> would try to vote in November&#39;s election. (And in Iowa that actually means September 27, when both in-person and mail-in voting begins.)<br /><br />Then Schultz created two new voting rules using an emergency administrative process which <a href="http://qctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/iowa/iowa-secretary-of-state-s-voter-rules-struck-down/article_6c5ec62e-feea-11e1-b8e8-001a4bcf887a.html">allowed the exclusion of public hearings</a> or community input of any kind.<br /><br />One of the rules would have challenged the voting rights of persons who appear on government databases as non-citizens. The second rule would have supposedly made it easier to report alleged voter fraud.<br /><br />Schultz armed himself with two letters to send to these individuals in order to get them to prove their citizenship. They can be found at the bottom of <a href="http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120916/NEWS09/309160060/-1/LIFE04/Schultz-blames-feds-delay-removal-ineligible-voters">this link</a> to a story in the <em>Des Moines Register</em>, and they&rsquo;re pretty special.<br /><br />The <a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/433280-1st_potential_ineligibility_letter.html">first letter</a> Schultz planned to send to those 3,582 suspected non-citizens lists four types of IDs to prove citizenship, none of which are a voter ID card, a social security card, or a state ID.<br /><br />The <a href="http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/433281-2nd_potential_ineligibility_letter.html">second letter </a>is a reminder that just happens to include this sentence: <em>Please note that voter registration fraud is a Class &quot;D&quot; felony in the state of Iowa.</em> Because that&rsquo;s not <em>too</em> intimidating.<br /><br />Last Friday, District Court Judge Mary Pat Gunderson&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;a <em>Republican</em> judge with a long history in Iowa GOP circles&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;responded to a suit against Schultz filed by the Iowa&#39;s ACLU and the state&rsquo;s League of United Latin American Citizens by issuing <a href="http://secretary-of-state-s-voter-rules-struck-down/article_6c5ec62e-feea-11e1-b8e8-001a4bcf887a.html">an injunction that prohibits Schultz</a> from enforcing his rules.<br /><br />Gunderson said Schultz had plenty of time to follow procedure for community input and that the emergency procedures hadn&#39;t been necessary. She didn&#39;t throw the rules out per se, but she set them aside until after the election.<br /><br />Schultz, who <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Schultz">won his post in a squeaker</a> just one year ago, is now threatening to sue to get access to a federal data base to <a href="http://kmaland.com/09491_Voter_cross-check_fight_continues_063454.asp">crosscheck</a> those 3,582 votes anyway.</p><p>With the presidential race so close, those votes could really make the difference.<br /><br /><em>This is the second in an occasional series. In the next few weeks, I&#39;ll be looking at how Latinos</em>&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;<em>the so-called swing vote in this year&#39;s presidential election</em>&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;<em>play in each of the states where the race is within a few percentage points. Read part one in the series <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/latinos-north-carolina-are-vital-obama-and-democratic-party-102153">here</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 20 Sep 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/iowa-republican-tries-kick-latinos-voter-rolls-102539 Romney takes a swipe at Latinos in 'secret video' http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/romney-takes-swipe-latinos-secret-video-102481 <p><p>Monday, while Mitt Romney was trying to <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81293.html?hp=f1">smooth talk Latinos</a> at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, his campaign <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&amp;v=0N5QMx0thAM">released a new video</a> celebrating October as Hispanic Heritage Month.<br /><br /><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP517604232489.jpg" style="height: 200px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="Mitt Romney stands by his comments on the 'secret video' in a press conference Monday night. (AP)" />The video features a laid back Mitt taking about Latino contributions to the U.S., with clips showing baseball great Roberto Clemente and salsa queen Celia Cruz among many others. It doesn&rsquo;t address a single issue, doesn&rsquo;t say one word about what Romney will do for Hispanics, and doesn&rsquo;t tout a previous record with Latinos &mdash; which makes it quite similar to the chamber of commerce speech.<br /><br />During that speech Romney merely declared, &ldquo;I am convinced that the Republican Party is the rightful home of Hispanic Americans.&rdquo; Then, instead of Clemente and Cruz and the others from the video, he listed Republican Latino leaders, such as New Mexico Gov. Susana Martínez, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz.&nbsp;No policy proposals, no record to talk about and the vaguest outline of intent on immigration.<br /><br />You might remember Romney&rsquo;s Latino platform during the primaries: <a href="http://americasvoiceonline.org/press_releases/new-video-captures-romneys-key-immigration-promises/">He said no to the DREAM Act</a>, declared Arizona&rsquo;s SB 1070 &ldquo;<a href="http://americasvoiceonline.org/blog/with_a_model_like_arizonathe_gop_can_kiss_the_latino_vote_goodbye/">a model&rdquo; for the country</a>&nbsp;and proposed solving immigration issues with &quot;self-deportation,&quot; a proposal that amounts to <a href="http://americasvoiceonline.org/blog/mitt_romney_talks_self-deportation_more_about_what_that_really_means/">making life here so hideous</a> for Latinos that they go back to their countries of origin.&nbsp;But since he won his party&rsquo;s nomination, Romney has barely talked about Latinos or mentioned what he&#39;ll do with the roughly 12 million undocumented workers in this country.<br /><br />At the Republican convention in Tampa, Romney avoided Latino issues &mdash;&nbsp;especially immigration policy &mdash;&nbsp;like the plague, a strategy <a href="http://univisionnews.tumblr.com/post/30452256169/gop-convention-day-2-what-to-expect">supported by Hispanic Republicans</a> such as former Florida Sen. Mel Martínez and Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart (perhaps unsurprisingly, both Cubans who don&#39;t think much beyond their Cuban-American base).</p><p>Republican convention speakers all took their turns in the spotlight but no one actually talked Latino policy &mdash; least of all Latino GOPers like Susana Martínez, Rubio and Cruz, who spouted triumphalist patriotic narratives about immigrants and neglected to mention that <a href="http://www.gop.com/2012-republican-platform_home/">their party&rsquo;s platform</a> actually uses the term &ldquo;illegal alien&quot; to discuss today&rsquo;s undocumented and says they &quot;pose great risk to the safety and sovereignty of the United States.&quot;<br /><br />In the effort to avoid today&#39;s undesirable Latinos by forging a likeable immigrant past, even Romney twisted his own heritage around for immigrant roots.&nbsp;&quot;My dad had been born in Mexico and his family had to leave during the Mexican revolution,&quot; Romney said, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/mitt-romney-speech-text_n_1826619.html">making it sound like his father was Mexican</a> instead of a white American Mormon living in a polygamous colony of ex pats. &quot;I grew up with stories of his family being fed by the U.S. government as war refugees.&rdquo;&nbsp;(That second part &mdash; the one about being fed by the government&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;what that really means is that the Romneys accepted food stamps and other federal aid.)<br /><br />Then Monday, while Romney was hanging out at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and his handlers were hanging their new feel good Latino video on YouTube, another video was released, a so-called &quot;secret video&quot; never meant to be aired.<br /><br />In it, Romney <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser">talks to a friendly audience</a> at a private fundraiser about Obama&rsquo;s supporters being deadbeats who don&rsquo;t pay taxes, don&rsquo;t take responsibility for themselves and depend on&nbsp; government assistance. Late Monday night, Romney held a press conference and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/mitt-romney-47-percent_n_1892227.html">stood by what he said</a>.<br /><br />In the video, Romney didn&rsquo;t talk about immigration, or education, or, frankly, the economy and unemployment and how it might effect Latinos either.&nbsp;But he did address Hispanics&nbsp;by saying this: &quot;My dad, as you probably, know was the governor of Michigan and was the head of a car company. But he was born in Mexico... and, uh, had he been born of, uh, Mexican parents, I&#39;d have a better shot at winning this ... I mean I say that jokingly, but <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/mitt-romney-video_n_1829455.html">it would be helpful to be Latino</a>.&quot;</p><p>Pretty funny, eh?</p></p> Tue, 18 Sep 2012 09:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/romney-takes-swipe-latinos-secret-video-102481 Elgin Latinos: Big in number but not in representation http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/elgin-latinos-big-number-not-representation-100379 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Gil Feliciano.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The latest census numbers tell a surprising story of how the racial makeup of Chicago&rsquo;s suburbs has changed over the past 20 years. In many places, Latinos now outnumber whites. West suburban Elgin is one of those places.&nbsp; But as the population in Elgin has taken off, Latino representation at all levels of local government has not kept up.</p><p>&ldquo;Just look at this stuff, the ethnicities represented here,&rdquo; said Gil Feliciano, standing in the lobby of Elgin&rsquo;s Gail Borden Library. On a summer afternoon, the lobby is filled with children of all backgrounds: white, black, Hispanic, Asian. It&rsquo;s common to see them dragging their parents across the main floor to the children&rsquo;s room in the back.</p><p>Feliciano was born and raised here in Elgin. His parents came from Puerto Rico. Feliciano was also Elgin&rsquo;s Hispanic Outreach Coordinator for ten years. He was the glue that connected Elgin&rsquo;s Latinos with city functions.</p><p>&ldquo;A gentleman one time came to see me,&rdquo; recounted Feliciano. &ldquo;When I approached him at the counter, he throws down two photographs, both of his porch. One where his porch is a disaster, and one where his porch looks gorgeous.&rdquo; The renovation had been the man&rsquo;s own handiwork, Feliciano said. &ldquo;I go, &lsquo;Well, that&rsquo;s wonderful work.&rsquo; And he goes, &lsquo;Well, not according to you guys.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>The man showed Feliciano a letter he had received from Elgin&rsquo;s Historic Preservation Department. It said all his work either had to be undone or changed because it didn&rsquo;t comply with department guidelines.&nbsp; Feliciano says he had to walk lots of immigrant residents, like this man,&nbsp; through those kinds of confusions.&nbsp; Often, they didn&rsquo;t know the rules, or they didn&rsquo;t understand them. Feliciano was the one who&rsquo;d explain to them that even if they owned the house, the city still had a say in whether, or how, they could modify and occupy it.</p><p>One thing that could have helped? Having Latinos help to craft those policies in Elgin. Feliciano said when he started his job in 1997, Latinos weren&rsquo;t in elected positions, they weren&rsquo;t in upper management, and they weren&rsquo;t on most city boards and commissions.</p><p>&ldquo;We knew that things needed to change,&rdquo; said Feliciano, &ldquo;especially if we were interested in having a reasonable reflection of the community.&rdquo;</p><p>Behind the library, across the river, the Metra train shuttles people between this suburb of stately Victorian homes and Chicago. More than two centuries ago, it was railroad labor opportunities that brought the earliest Mexican immigrants to western suburbs like Elgin. Puerto Rican women came, too, to work as housemaids.</p><p>But the numbers really started climbing about 20 years ago. In 1990, Elgin&rsquo;s population was 19 percent Latino. In 2010 , that had grown to nearly 44 percent. That was a huge change over just 20 years, but during that span, Elgin managed to gain only one Latino city council member: Juan Figueroa.</p><p>&ldquo;We were lacking representation in the school boards, library, township, city council,&rdquo; recalls Figueroa.</p><p>Figueroa took office just a couple of years into Gil Feliciano&rsquo;s time at city hall. And slowly the two of them started doing what they could to draw Latinos into the city&rsquo;s affairs. Figueroa put Latinos on boards and commissions. They formed a political action team to register Latino voters. Figueroa says they were building momentum in the community, but then it started falling apart.</p><p>&ldquo;There was a small group of people that thought it was time perhaps to have a city council (member) from a different ethnic group,&rdquo; said Figueroa, &ldquo;in this case the Mexican community.&rdquo;</p><p>Figueroa is Puerto Rican in a city where most Latinos are of Mexican origin. In 2008, that was suddenly a problem for Figueroa. He found himself running for reelection along with two Latinas of Mexican descent. None of them won.</p><p>Even though they weren&rsquo;t all running for the same office, Figueroa believes the three Latino candidates split the vote. He says rivalry among Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and other Latin Americans is one reason that, though they make up nearly half of Elgin&rsquo;s population, Latinos today have zero seats on the city council.</p><p>Figueroa believes what they need is one charismatic leader. &ldquo;It will take a person that can unite the community again, that can bring the groups together,&rdquo; Figueroa said, &ldquo;that can heal some of the bad experiences, the issues, the conflict. All those things that have not allowed us just to be together, as we used to.&rdquo;</p><p>Allert Brown-Gort has studied Latino political involvement in Chicago&rsquo;s suburbs. He says there may be another reason Elgin&rsquo;s Latinos haven&rsquo;t organized behind candidates and causes - and ironically, it&rsquo;s the same reason they moved there in the first place.</p><p>&ldquo;The Chicago metropolitan region is really quite friendly to immigrants,&rdquo; said Brown-Gort, &ldquo;so as immigrants don&rsquo;t feel particularly threatened maybe that does not mobilize them.&rdquo;</p><p>For the most part, this has been true throughout Chicago&rsquo;s suburbs, and Brown-Gort says you can see that from an important switch in immigration patterns that started a few years ago. It used to be that immigrants would first come to Chicago, then move to suburbs when they were more established. Brown-Gort says in 2005 that changed. Now, Chicago&rsquo;s suburbs have become the first stops - the gateway communities for immigrants.</p><p>That&rsquo;s been true for Elgin, and as old-time residents observed the changes over the last two decades, some were uncomfortable with the city&rsquo;s new demographics. Dianha Ortega-Ehreth felt that tension when she was house-shopping there in 2004.</p><p>&ldquo;Our realtor told us that we should be careful moving to the Elgin area because of all the Hispanics that are taking over the city,&rdquo; recalled Ortega-Ehreth. &ldquo;To which I responded, &lsquo;That&rsquo;s great, I want to be around more people like me.&rsquo; And I don&rsquo;t think he knew I was Hispanic.&rdquo;</p><p>But on the whole, Ortega-Ehreth and many other Latinos say they feel welcome in Elgin. They mutter thanks that things haven&rsquo;t gone the way of their neighbor to the north. Carpentersville, 50 percent Latino, created tensions years ago when it considered policies to drive undocumented immigrants away.</p><p>Instead, many in Elgin hope their city will turn out more like Aurora, to the south. There, Latinos make up 40 percent of the population and hold positions across local government. They focus on the same issues that matter to Latinos in Elgin - and that matter to most people: jobs, education, public safety.</p><p>Elgin&rsquo;s city elections come in 2013. That&rsquo;s the next chance to see whether Latinos will be at the table, helping to shape Elgin&rsquo;s&nbsp; future.</p><p><a name="map"></a></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="700" scrolling="no" src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=MAP&amp;q=select+col2+from+1b76OZbv2awt3RiX2hHNTibPT5YLBAiveCS30XhM&amp;h=false&amp;lat=42.13344418738396&amp;lng=-88.1201595&amp;z=9&amp;t=1&amp;l=col2" width="650"></iframe></p></p> Tue, 26 Jun 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/elgin-latinos-big-number-not-representation-100379 Marla Caceres shares lessons she learned from Trayvon Martin http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-04/marla-caceres-shares-lessons-she-learned-trayvon-martin-97862 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/6899936050_a94a57cbab_z.jpg" style="width: 620px; height: 411px; " title="A man with hoodie watches the speakers on the steps of the Historic Capital Building in Tallahassee, Florida at a Rally March for Trayvon Martin (Flickr/Stephen Nakatani)"></div><p>We probably don't have to introduce the story of Trayvon Martin; rarely does one story start so small and get catipulted to a level where the President of the United States feels he must make a comment.</p><p>"If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon,” President Obama <a href="http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/23/obama-makes-first-comments-on-trayvon-martin-shooting/">said last week</a>. “And I think every parent in America should be able to understand why it is absolutely imperative that we investigate every aspect of this.”</p><p>The death of black youth Trayvon Martin in the hands of George Zimmerman hispanic man, has inflamed the nation over the issue of race in the public sphere. But it made hispanic comedian Marla Caceres question the role race plays in her own life. In this story, she recalls not realizing (until recently) that she was in an "interracial marriage with her white husband" and emplores us to not "rush to make Zimmerman any more or less guilty because he's Hispanic." Read an excerpt or listen:</p><p><em>"As soon as it came out that Trayvon Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman, is half-Hispanic, the racial undertones of the story shifted. The New York Times came under some criticism for initially describing Zimmerman as a “white Hispanic,” with some people believing that the term “white” in this case is unecessary and might reflect some sort of hidden agenda. Bernie Goldberg, a Fox News analyst, called this description a “charicature of a liberal media.”</em></p><p><em>And then, pundits and regular folks making comments on the Internet alike said things like 'Everybody, relax – this was obviously not a racially motivated crime, because Zimmerman is half-Hispanic, and, as a minority, he is incapable of racism.'</em></p><p><em>This aspect of the Trayvon story speaks to something I've known my whole but I am just getting around to understanding: Race, for Latinos, is a sticky and complicated thing. We're one ethnic group, with a shared language and culture, but there are many different racial identities within that. And the experience of being a white Hispanic in this country, like me, is different than the experience of being a black Hispanic. And, sadly, being part of this diverse minority group, and having friends and family and neighbors of different colors that you share this deep cultural connection with –&nbsp; that doesn't automatically keep you from being a little bit – or, possibly in the case of Zimmerman – a lot racist."</em></p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a><em>&nbsp;is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It's always at 3 p.m., it's always on Saturday, and it's always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://wbez.org/thepapermachete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 06 Apr 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-04/marla-caceres-shares-lessons-she-learned-trayvon-martin-97862