WBEZ | Polish http://www.wbez.org/tags/polish Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago's Polish Catholics express renewed pride after canonizations http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-polish-catholics-express-renewed-pride-after-canonizations-110087 <p><p>Red and white flags are waving from cars across Chicago as Polish Roman Catholics continue to celebrate the canonization of the first Polish pontiff.</p><p>Pope Francis declared Popes John Paul II and John XXIII saints Sunday in Rome in a solemn ceremony attended by millions. Many more watched on TVs and Internet streams around the world. It was the first time two popes became saints on the same day.</p><p>It was an especially big deal for Polish Catholics in Chicago: Pope John Paul II was both the first Polish pontiff, and the first to visit Chicago.</p><p>Poles came out by the thousands Saturday and Sunday for special masses, vigils, concerts, museum exhibits and marches across greater Chicago.</p><p>At Five Holy Martyrs Church on the South Side, people started gathering more than four hours before the canonization ceremony, which began at 3 a.m. Chicago time. They prayed the rosary and listened to performances by several Polish Highlander groups, including excerpts from an opera about Pope John Paul II.</p><p>Karolina Nowobilska, 14, sang a solo in front of the packed church. She said she was calm until she finished.</p><p>&ldquo;When I got back into the pew, I went by my parents and I just started crying because I got so emotional that I got to sing,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a huge event that won&rsquo;t happen in my lifetime or maybe ... generations to come.&rdquo;</p><p>Nowobilska said she&rsquo;s already been praying to Pope John Paul II for help with things, including homework</p><p>Maggie Strzelec, 22, said she felt Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to reach out to young people around the world, and it changed how people viewed Poles -- and how Poles viewed themselves.</p><p>&ldquo;There was no more embarrassment, or no more comments or stereotypical comments,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I think it made everybody so proud to be Polish.&rdquo;<br /><br />Hundreds of Polish Catholics marched up Milwaukee Avenue Sunday, from Holy Trinity Polish Church to St. Hyacinth Basilica, praying and singing. They arrived at their destination, waving Polish and Vatican flags, as church bells rang. Several people carried images of Pope John Paul II as they filed inside for mass.</p><p>Natalie Gebala of Mount Prospect attended an overnight vigil in Des Plaines, then marched in the pilgrimage. She got about three hours of sleep between events.</p><p>&ldquo;It was very tiring, and I have blisters on my feet. My muscles ache,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But it was so worth it because it was such a beautiful unifying experience, and I feel like it was unforgettable. I feel like he brought religion and goodness together. I feel like that&rsquo;s going to maybe deepen people&rsquo;s faith.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pope%20saints%201.JPG" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Roman Catholics march about five miles between two Polish churches to celebrate the canonization of two pontiffs, especially Pope John Paul II, the first Polish pope. (WBEZ/Lynette Kalsnes)" />Pope John Paul II visited Chicago in 1979 and held a huge mass that filled Grant Park. He also held a service at Five Holy Martyrs. An estimated 10,000 came, spilling out of the church parking lot and onto nearby rooftops. The church still has both the wooden chair he sat in and the altar, which they&rsquo;re restoring as a shrine.</p><p>Mark Wojciechowski from the Back of the Yards neighborhood was just a kid at the time, but he remembers that day well.</p><p>&ldquo;Waking up, your whole family being so proud, and no matter what, whether it was going to rain or shine, you were going to be there. It&rsquo;s just one of those things that&rsquo;s beautiful, you can always say you lived to be a saint.&rdquo;</p><p>Like many Polish Catholics gathered this weekend, Wojciechowski said he already knew in his heart that Pope John Paul II was a saint, and the ceremony just made it official.</p><p>Jozef Bafia, a Polish radio host who helped organized the vigil at Five Holy Martyrs, had a third row seat at that Holy Martyrs mass. He met the pope several times.</p><p>&ldquo;When he was here first time in 1979, Poland was behind the Iron Curtain, communism rules: You can&rsquo;t do this, you can&rsquo;t go there,&rdquo; Bafia said. &ldquo;Poland got free without bloodshed, without shots. I know Pope John Paul II, holy father, he was that big fire for that. Now he&rsquo;s a saint. Saint John Paul II. He&rsquo;s going to be with me for the rest of my life.</p><p>Not everyone was satisfied with the focus on John Paul II. Barb Smith, who attended mass Sunday night at Holy Name Cathedral, thought the occasion was exciting and historic. But she&nbsp; wanted Pope John XXIII, known as a progressive who worked to modernize the church, to get equal billing.</p><p>&ldquo;I just thought he was the best,&rdquo; Smith said, adding Pope John XXIII had an &ldquo;unblemished record.&rdquo; She said she felt Pope John Paul II&rsquo;s record was tarnished by his conservatism and the priest sex abuse scandal.</p><p>But Smith said she also thought Pope John Paul II had cleared those &ldquo;blemishes&rdquo; with the way he reached out to people, especially the young, and the way he so publicly suffered Parkinson&rsquo;s disease late in life.</p><p>Smith had visited Rome to see Pope John Paul II. She brought his photos with her Sunday, hoping to show her priest.</p><p><em>Lynette Kalsnes is a WBEZ producer/reporter covering religion and culture. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/LynetteKalsnes">@LynetteKalsnes.</a></em></p></p> Mon, 28 Apr 2014 12:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/chicagos-polish-catholics-express-renewed-pride-after-canonizations-110087 Polish community may get travel perk from immigration reform http://www.wbez.org/news/polish-community-may-get-travel-perk-immigration-reform-107412 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Polish visa waivers.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Many in Chicago&rsquo;s Polish community hope immigration reform will finally deliver a travel perk they&rsquo;ve long been seeking: Poland&rsquo;s inclusion on the list of countries who don&#39;t need visas to travel to the U.S. The visa requirement has long been a gripe among many in Chicago&rsquo;s sizeable Polish-American community, who perceive it as a diplomatic slight. They cite Poland&rsquo;s assistance during U.S. military operations (that were otherwise unpopular in the European Union), and wonder why they&rsquo;re among just a handful of European countries excluded from the Visa Waiver Program.</p><p>&ldquo;U.S. citizens are not required (to have) a Polish visa to come to Poland for 90 days,&rdquo; said Robert Rusiecki, Deputy Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago. &ldquo;And over the years when Poland has been a member of NATO, we proved to be a strong ally for the United States and we were everywhere we were required, including Iraq and Afghanistan.&rdquo;</p><p>Ruscieki said Polish tourists to the U.S. should be treated the same as U.S. tourists to Poland.</p><p>To get a tourist visa to the U.S., prospective Polish visitors have to fill out a <a href="http://travel.state.gov/visa/forms/forms_4401.html" target="_blank">detailed online application</a>, pay a <a href="http://www.ustraveldocs.com/pl/pl-niv-paymentinfo.asp" target="_blank">non-refundable $160 visa fee</a>, and schedule a screening interview at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw or the U.S. Consulate General in Krakow. In many cases, U.S. officials refuse to issue the visa, which means applicants lose whatever money they spent. By contrast, <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/business_pleasure/vwp/faq_vwp.xml#GeneralInformationontheVisaWaiverProgram" target="_blank">many of Poland&rsquo;s neighboring countries in the EU</a> are exempt from this process. Their citizens are, like all non-U.S. citizens, simply checked at a U.S. port of entry after they get off their plane.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s long overdue to include Poland in the Visa Waiver Program, especially for a city like Chicago, who probably has the largest Polish population outside of Warsaw,&rdquo; said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Illinois). The <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/10_SF4/B01003/312M100US169801714000/popgroup~551" target="_blank">City of Chicago is home to more than 175,000</a> people who claim Polish ancestry, but <a href="http://factfinder2.census.gov/bkmk/table/1.0/en/ACS/10_SF4/B01003/310M100US16980/popgroup~551" target="_blank">roughly 940,000 are estimated to live in the metro region</a>.</p><p>Quigley has introduced the <a href="http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/490" target="_blank">Visa Waiver Program Enhanced Security and Reform Act</a>, along with U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Illinois) and U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Illinois). The bill is the latest version of previous legislation that he has introduced in Congress. All have aimed to change the Visa Waiver Program&rsquo;s criteria such that they would allow Poland and some other countries to participate&mdash;and so far, all have died.</p><p>&ldquo;I tell my colleagues this isn&rsquo;t your father&rsquo;s Visa Waiver Program,&rdquo; Quigley said. &ldquo;It gives us so much more information, it actually makes us safer.&rdquo;</p><p>Quigley said his previous attempts to change the Visa Waiver Program hit a wall because some legislators worried it could ease the way for dangerous people to gain entry to the U.S. But he said a tighter, post-9/11 system to capture biometric information&mdash;namely, fingerprints&mdash;from people who enter the U.S. has mitigated that threat.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re dealing with countries that we have good relationships with, we&rsquo;re getting information about our travelers that&rsquo;s far better than if we don&rsquo;t have a Visa Waiver Program,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Quigley is also a sponsor of the <a href="http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113hr1354ih/pdf/BILLS-113hr1354ih.pdf" target="_blank">Jobs Originating through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act</a>, introduced by Rep. Joseph Heck (R-Nevada), which emphasizes projected economic gains from increased tourism to the U.S., should more countries be allowed into the Visa Waiver Program. Proponents of the legislation cite figures from the U.S. Travel Association, projecting an additional $7 billion of revenues from visitors coming from additional countries in the program.</p><p>Some believe a good portion of Polish tourist dollars would be spent right here, in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;People in Poland know about this place,&rdquo; said Dan Pogorzelski, Executive Director of the Greater Avondale Chamber of Commerce, whose members include a number of Polish-American businesses. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to brand this neighborhood as a tourist destination to Poles.&rdquo;</p><p>Several of the same principles behind expanding the Visa Waiver Program are also embedded in Section 4506 of the <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/686529-immigration-border-security-economic-opportunity.html" target="_blank">mammoth immigration reform bill</a> under consideration in the U.S. Senate. Quigley, and others in Chicago&rsquo;s Polish-American leadership, believe the momentum of immigration reform may finally propel the effort forward.</p><p>But a <a href="http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-602T" target="_blank">recent report from the Government Accountability Office</a> suggests a possible snag with how the proposed bills would change the program. Currently, countries may participate in the Visa Waiver Program if they have a combination of low overstay rates and very low refusal rates. Overstay rates are the percentage of people who come to the U.S. from a given country, and then stay beyond the valid period of their visas. The refusal rate is the percentage of applicants from a given country that are denied visas. This can be for a variety of reasons, but often the visa is denied on suspicion that the applicant will try to immigrate illegally to the U.S. by overstaying their visa.</p><p>Quigley and other proponents of expanding the Visa Waiver Program champion the idea of lifting the limit on refusal rates if a country has proven to be a good ally of the U.S. This would effectively get Poland in the door. But it also assumes that the U.S. has a good handle on what the overstay rates are from each country. According to the GAO report, that&rsquo;s simply not the case.</p><p>&ldquo;DHS [Department of Homeland Security] has not yet implemented a biometric exit capability, but has planning efforts underway to assess options for such a capability at airports and seaports,&rdquo; the report states.</p><p>Since 1994, DHS and its predecessors have not reported country-by-country overstay rates, though they have been federally required to do so. The department has yet to persuade airports and airlines to implement a systematic procedure to fingerprint travelers just before they board planes to leave the U.S.</p><p>Last month, that meant DHS had upward of 1 million people that it knew had arrived in the U.S., but could not verify whether they had left. The report notes that five of the nine 9/11 hijackers were people who had overstayed their temporary visas.</p><p>&ldquo;It makes no sense to go forward with this without the data system that we need to serve as a sound basis for judging the readiness of some of these countries,&rdquo; said Jessica Vaughan, Director of Policy Studies at the conservative Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, DC. &ldquo;The risk is that if the standards that we set are not high enough, we&rsquo;re going to open up a new avenue for illegal immigration to occur, because people are able to come with the presumption that they&rsquo;re going to be eligible.&rdquo;</p><p>Quigley said he&rsquo;s not concerned about the GAO&rsquo;s report on a leaky visa tracking system.</p><p>&ldquo;The processes are in place to improve it, we think that the numbers will be published,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I think Poland was put at a disadvantage by the old criteria, and it was a different time as well.&rdquo;</p><p>In particular, Quigley and many others point to Poland&rsquo;s 2004 inclusion in the EU as a major turning point. They say now that Poles can move freely around Europe for employment, they&rsquo;re much less likely to attempt a risky illegal move to the U.S.</p><p>But Vaughan said that without precise overstay numbers, it&rsquo;s not clear that Poland&mdash;or any country, for that matter&mdash;would qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, even if legislation passes to expand it.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef" target="_blank">@oyousef</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 29 May 2013 10:51:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/polish-community-may-get-travel-perk-immigration-reform-107412 Happy Pulaski Day! http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2012-03-05/happy-pulaski-day-96966 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-March/2012-03-05/casimir pulaski blingee_zulkey.gif" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-March/2012-03-05/casimir pulaski blingee_zulkey.gif" style="width: 313px; height: 400px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="">Go <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casimir_Pulaski_Day">Casimir</a>, it's your birthday. We gonna party like it's your birthday.</p><p id="paragraph5">Chicago Poles, I assume you're already drunk by this point but if you're not, remember--today is YOUR day!</p><p>Sure, we may not get the river dyed a certain color in our honor or enjoy a big annual city parade or a semi-annual kind of messy South Side parade nor do our baseball teams wear red in honor of St. Joseph's Day, but guess what: We have our own holiday where schools and libraries are closed along with&nbsp;City of Chicago and Cook County offices!! (But all federal and state courts remain open. Banks and the post offices will remain open, and postal service is unaffected. Public transportation will run on normal schedules.)</p><p>Paaar-ty!</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 05 Mar 2012 16:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/claire-zulkey/2012-03-05/happy-pulaski-day-96966 Sculptor who died in plane crash that killed Polish leaders honored http://www.wbez.org/story/sculptor-who-died-plane-crash-killed-polish-leaders-honored-92405 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-23/monument pic.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Chicago area artist who died in the plane crash that killed the Polish president and dozens of other Polish leaders last year is <a href="https://www.vniles.com/Content/articlefiles/4116-Milwaukee%20Avenue%20Dedication%20Day,%20September%2025,%202011,%20in%20Honor%20of%20Polish%20Sculptor%20Wojciech%20M.%20Seweryn.pdf">being remembered this weekend</a>. He’s beloved in the Polish community because of a monument he sculpted that stands in a Niles cemetery. It reminds them of a terrible moment they vow to never forget.</p><p>Sculptor Wojciech Seweryn was born the first day of World War II and never knew his father. His father was killed by the Soviets, massacred along with 20,000 soldiers and intellectuals in a forest in Katyn, Russia.</p><p>Anna Wójtowicz is Seweryn’s daughter.</p><p>“All his life he wanted to remember his father he never knew, and fighting for the truth, showing people the massacre in Russia happened, and never forget,” Wójtowicz said.</p><p>Seweryn came to the U.S. in 1976 and started sketching his plans for a memorial.</p><p>“He always had this plan, this idea that he’s going to build a monument for those soldiers," Wójtowicz said. “But it was really hard, he came here as an immigrant. In the beginning, he didn’t have legal papers. He didn’t know English. He didn’t know people who could help him, but he never gave up.”</p><p>Seweryn envisioned a Virgin Mary holding a dying Polish soldier, with an eagle rising to show Poland surviving, but with no head.</p><p>Wójtowicz said her father finally found others who shared his dream. They raised money for years, and the monument, looking much like his vision, opened in May of 2009.</p><p>"This was his life,” his daughter said. “He very often said that when I will do this I can just step one more time on the Katyn soil, and I can die, and he never realized how those words will be so realistic.”</p><p>NPR NEWSCAST: Shock and grief ripped through Poland today….</p><p>In a terrible irony, the plane crashed near the site of the massacre. Seweryn and the others were on their way to observe the 70<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the Katyn tragedy.</p><p>The plane crash devastated the Polish community here in Chicago. Thousands immediately flocked to the monument Seweryn created.</p><p>Even today, people gather there at the sculpture on occasions both happy and sad.</p><p>Niles Trustee Christopher Hanusiak says the memorial plays an essential role.</p><p>“Nobody spoke of Katyn, nobody talked about it, for years, even as myself, growing up here in the United States, I was born in Poland also, we never talked about this in schools, we weren’t educated about Katyn,” Hanusiak said.</p><p>Until recently, Hanusiak says, the Soviets blamed the Nazis. Information was suppressed.</p><p>That’s why Hanusiak thinks Seweryn and his Katyn monument are so important.</p><p>“So what he did is besides being a creator, a sculptor, a father, he’s educating the world about this event that happened that we were never allowed to talk about. It means so much to the Polish people that this information was given to the world,” he said.</p><p>This weekend, the Polish-American community will honor Seweryn starting with a 9 a.m. mass at St. Hyacinth’s Basilica in Chicago, followed by a <a href="https://www.vniles.com/Content/articlefiles/4116-Milwaukee%20Avenue%20Dedication%20Day,%20September%2025,%202011,%20in%20Honor%20of%20Polish%20Sculptor%20Wojciech%20M.%20Seweryn.pdf">noon ceremony</a> at the monument in St. Adalbert Catholic Cemetery in Niles. The ceremony includes the unveiling of a portion of a street named after Seweryn right near the monument, as well as a plaque being presented by a leader from near his Polish hometown.</p><p>NOTE: The broadcast about the Polish plane crash is courtesy of National Public Radio.</p></p> Fri, 23 Sep 2011 21:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/sculptor-who-died-plane-crash-killed-polish-leaders-honored-92405 Writer Karen Brenner sees friendship in Chicago's melting pot http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-30/writer-karen-brenner-sees-friendship-chicagos-melting-pot-91237 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-August/2011-08-30/4981347986_bcb5cf89c2_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332483678-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/sites/default/files/neighbors essay.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></p><p>Writer Karen Brenner no doubt heard Arabic and many other languages in her Northwest Side neighborhood. Everyday, her neighbors remind her that Chicago is the ultimate melting pot. She shared notes on her neighbors on <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>.</p><p>Two very different families live next door to us on our street of two flats. One family has a young daughter with hair the color of the sun; hair that streams across her face so that she is constantly pushing it out of her eyes and mouth. Upstairs lives her best friend, who has hair the color of night; hair that hangs down past her knees when it is not gathered into a long, thick, braided rope.</p><p>During the bitter winter months we barely see them. Now that it is summer, they are constantly out of doors, riding their bikes, or playing in the little garden that their families share.</p><p>The girl with the dark hair has a large family. They have planted strawberries and tomatoes in their side of the yard. We give them some of our bean plants; they give us a kabob hot off the grill, dusky with spices. Her family cooks out almost every night, accompanied by smoke and laughter.</p><p>The girl with the blond hair has only one little brother. Her family gives us pirogues, fat with sweet, mild cheese or pillowed with potatoes. We give them bouquets of roses. To both families we smile and nod over the fence to say, “as-salamu alaykum” or “dzien dobry."&nbsp; Those are the only words we can speak to our neighbors.</p><p>But the little girls switch effortlessly from one language to the other. When their mothers call them, they answer back--without missing a beat--in the staccato of Arabic, or tongue-twisting Polish. Then they turn to each other and continue their conversation in the broad, flattened-A of Midwestern American English.</p><p>They call to us as they fly by on their bikes--best friends; bold adventurers. Their hair streams out behind them--one the color of sun; one the color of night. They wave and shout, “Hello neighbors!”&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>We wave back, smiling, watching what is special and wonderful about America ride by.&nbsp; Here, in this great city, in this good land, there is a child of the Middle East and a child of Europe who daily cross the cultural chasms of religion, world view and language with complete ease and grace. As we watch their bikes disappear into the distance we know that they carry with them the promise of our country and the legacy of our city; the world comes here and becomes our neighbors, and sometimes our best friend.</p><p><em>Music Button: Second Sky, "Hourglass", from the album The Art of Influence, (Rhythm &amp; Culture)</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 30 Aug 2011 14:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-30/writer-karen-brenner-sees-friendship-chicagos-melting-pot-91237 Polish immigrant recounts her journey to Chicago http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-28/polish-immigrant-recounts-her-journey-chicago-89751 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2011-July/2011-07-28/5067912967_a0a2cc1269_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Regardless of actual status, many immigrants share a common goal – they moved to make a better life for themselves and their families. Writer Karolina Stepek Faraci knew all too well the joy and the pain of starting over. Stepek, now a Chicago resident, shared her story with <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>.</p><p>In the early ‘90s our family lived in coastal Poland, in an old house with no bathroom; only cold water running. We’d use a large electric heater submerged in a bucket to heat up the water. We washed ourselves in an aluminum bowl that stood on a wooden stand in the kitchen. Every Saturday we would bathe in a blue plastic tub that my mom would bring down from the attic.</p><p><br> We peed and pooped in another bucket – this one with a lid that was hidden under the sink, opposite the small kitchen. I dreamt of a real toilet; not typical for a fifteen year old.</p><p><br> My friends’ fathers, they all worked in the West: Berlin, Dusseldorf, Munich. Illegal construction work for the most part, but they also sold vodka, silver and amber out on the streets. But the luckiest ones had families in the States who could send out invitations for them to get visas; a golden key to the Eden on Earth: America.&nbsp; Living in damp basements, they ate nothing and saved everything. And it didn’t matter that their pride was all damaged; they were post-communist, Eastern Block peasants; half humans, half-creations of the former system of terror and dictatorship, now made to serve the capitalists. It didn’t matter because the deutche marks and American dollars tasted sweater than strawberries picked at dawn.<br> There was nothing in Poland: no jobs, no money, no prospects. The collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which ended the Communist era in Europe, had brought the wealth of the West a little closer but it was far from peachy-keen. There were Snickers and Marlboro cigarettes in stores now, but no one had money to buy it. It was like licking a lollipop through a Plexiglas.</p><p><br> The money my father brought home as a fisherman didn’t get us far. But he was too proud to serve the capitalists, as he’d say, “I thought he was either too lazy or too drunk” because he was always against the communists.</p><p><br> He would say, “I’m never going to work for capitalists! Never!” And then he would pick the remote control and turn the volume up, as this was the end of discussion. My mother, who every night sat at the chair across from him, would bark, “You dumbass! You alcoholic!” and then she’d light up a cigarette and walk away to the kitchen where she’d toss pots and pans, making noise.</p><p><br> I dreamt of nothing but to escape this place. Escape to the almighty, colorful, neon-lit, well-fed America, where people are happy, have jingle bell-like laughs, and strong, white teeth and smell like fabric softener. I dreamt I’d leave the coastal hole behind me with the stench of half-digested alcohol on my father’s breath; leave behind my nerve-wracked, chain-smoking mother, who no longer remembered how to speak calmly to anyone; my little sister who would still wet her bed, traumatized from the night my father beat my mother with a leather belt in front of us.</p><p><br> I dreamt of it all, not knowing that eight years from then I would be waving goodbye to my mom, my aunt and my uncle from an ascending escalator at the Frederic Chopin Airport in Warsaw to take my very first flight ever—flight to America. They looked up at me and I looked down at them, and this was the picture my memory preserved until six years later when I got the ultimate golden ticket – the Green Card – and saw them again on the Polish soil.</p><p><br> I live in Chicago now; torn between the place where I no longer belong and a place where I never will. But every time I speak to my grandmother on the phone, she says, “Stay, dziecko; stay. It is just easier to live there.” And I stay.&nbsp; Because she’s right: Where else in the world would I be able to purchase a plain ticket overseas with two-weeks worth of babysitting? Even now my father says working for capitalists isn’t that bad.</p></p> Thu, 28 Jul 2011 13:47:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-07-28/polish-immigrant-recounts-her-journey-chicago-89751 Sheriff mulls freeing inmates wanted on immigration charges http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20090908_tarnold_9361_Sher_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>On any given day, the Cook County Jail holds hundreds of inmates picked up on criminal charges who also happen to be wanted for an immigration violation. Sheriff Tom Dart’s office keeps them up to 48 hours beyond when the criminal cases would allow them out. That’s to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency known as ICE, to take them into deportation proceedings. Now Dart tells WBEZ he’s reconsidering that policy because it could be compromising public safety. We report from our West Side bureau.</p><p><br> SOUND: Keys open a jail door.<br> <br> Beneath the Cook County criminal courthouse, one jailer pulls out keys and unlocks a door. Another, Officer Carmelo Santiago, leads the way.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: We’re going through this tunnel that connects us from the courthouse to the jail. This way is where the detainee is going to be coming.<br> <br> We step around crusts of sandwiches that the day’s new arrivals got for lunch.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: And this is the receiving process.<br> <br> SOUND: Entering the receiving area.<br> <br> The smell of unwashed feet wafts from chain-link pens full of inmates who’re waiting to be processed. Santiago shows me the paperwork of a Mexican national busted last night in Chicago.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: This individual was arrested for driving on a revoked or suspended license on a DUI.<br> <br> A lot of immigrants who drink and drive end up in this jail. That’s because Illinois considers DUI a felony when the motorist lacks a valid driver’s license. And the state doesn’t allow any undocumented immigrant to get one.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: He was issued a bond from the court for $15,000.<br> <br> Santiago points out that the defendant could walk free for just $1,500. Except, his file shows something else.<br> <br> SANTIAGO: This specific individual has a detainer that was placed on him through immigration.<br> <br> MITCHELL: This man can post bond or not [and] he’s going to end up in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement?<br> <br> SANTIAGO: That is correct.<br> <br> Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart says he doesn’t like holding on to inmates like this one for ICE to take away. He says these holds make it harder for local police to fight crime. Residents see cops and start thinking about the threat of deportation — the threat to the criminals, maybe even to themselves.<br> <br> DART: It does not lend itself to a sense of community where people will gladly come to you with information about crimes, get involved as a witness, even come forward as a victim, frankly.<br> <br> Over the years Dart has taken steps to reduce the jail’s role in immigration enforcement. The sheriff’s office says it no longer calls ICE with information about inmates. The sheriff no longer allows ICE agents in holding cells near bond courtrooms. The jail has put up big signs — in English, Spanish and Polish — that tell new inmates they have no obligation to answer questions about immigration status. But Dart says something has him in a bind. Every day ICE requests that the jail hold certain inmates two extra days so the agency can put the detainees into deportation proceedings. The jail ends up turning over about a half-dozen inmates to ICE each day. Two years ago, Dart quietly sought some legal advice from Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez’s office.<br> <br> DART: The opinion was really unambiguous. It said I had to comply with the detainer. So, when the detainer was placed on somebody, I had to give the ICE officers 48 hours to come and pick somebody up and that it was not in my discretion.<br> <br> MITCHELL: Could you ignore the state’s attorney’s opinion?<br> <br> DART: Then I open myself up personally to civil liability.<br> <br> Dart says that could include damages for someone hurt by a released inmate or the legal defense if an anti-immigrant group filed suit . . .<br> <br> DART: . . . which is not something that myself or my five children signed up to do. And I open our office up to unbelievable amounts of liability.<br> <br> But some immigrant advocates are pressing Dart about the ICE detainers. They confronted a few of his top aides at a meeting a few weeks ago. Reverend Walter Coleman got to question a sheriff’s attorney, Patricia Horne.<br> <br> HORNE: It’s a legal document just like an arrest warrant, which we, under law, have to recognize.<br> <br> COLEMAN: Under what law?<br> <br> HORNE: Well, in this case, under federal law.<br> <br> COLEMAN: There is no federal law. You cannot cite me the statute or the chapter or the section. You know that that’s the truth and we will not sit here and be lied to like this.<br> <br> It turns out ICE isn’t citing a statute either. Lately federal officials have acknowledged that local jails don’t have to comply with immigration detainer requests. Last month the San Francisco County Sheriff’s Department quit honoring the requests for certain inmates. Here in Cook County, Sheriff Dart says that’s got him wondering again whether he has to comply with the 48-hour holds. He tells me he’s planning to ask the State’s Attorney’s Office for an updated opinion. He could do that quietly again and most people wouldn’t even know. But Dart doesn’t always operate quietly. You might remember that, twice over the last three years, the sheriff has ordered his deputies to suspend enforcement of foreclosure evictions.<br> <br> MITCHELL: You run one of the country’s biggest jails. Would you really be willing to become a national lightening rod on the issue of immigration enforcement?<br> <br> DART: Well, there is this notion of justice that we’ve always felt very strongly about in this office. And whether it’s dealing with people who we felt were being dispossessed of their houses in the mortgage crisis. So we stopped. It’s the same issue here, where we are attempting to do what is right and just.<br> <br> But Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Greg Palmore has a warning for any sheriff who lets inmates walk free despite an immigration hold.<br> <br> PALMORE: Though ICE has not sought to compel compliance through legal proceedings, jurisdictions who ignore detainers bear the risk of allowing that individual back into the public domain before they were thoroughly vetted to insure that this individual doesn’t have anything outstanding that warrants us to move further in that particular case.<br> <br> Sheriff Dart acknowledges there could be a downside to ignoring immigration detainer requests. Let’s say ICE knows the inmate arrived in the country under an alias or is violent — and the information didn’t appear in the jail’s background check. But Dart says letting some immigrants out of jail even though ICE wants them could be worth the risk. It might help remove the deportation issue from everyday policing. The sheriff says that could make streets in Cook County safer.</p></p> Fri, 15 Jul 2011 23:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/sheriff-mulls-freeing-inmates-wanted-immigration-charges-89233 Something You Should Eat: Bigos from Szalas http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/something-you-should-eat-bigos-szalas <p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe height="349" frameborder="0" width="499" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/17750095?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;color=c40215"></iframe></p><p>Here we go, locked firmly in the grip of another Chicago winter, spending as much time as possible trying to stay warm. &nbsp;Granted, it's not exactly Antarctica (or Anchorage), but we have plenty of chilly days and nights to deal with until April. &nbsp;This time of year, I spend as much time as possible seeking out those soul-satisfying, rib-sticking, body-thawing dishes as possible. &nbsp;Do yourself a favor and head to the Archer Heights neighborhood near Midway Airport, and head into the Alpine ski lodge that is <a href="http://www.szalasrestaurant.com/">Szalas</a> (SCHA-wahs). &nbsp;They specialize in Polish Highlander cuisine (think hunting provisions), which would naturally include bigos (BEE-goes): a thick, fortifying stew of smoked pork, ham, cabbage and red wine, among other Eastern European staples. &nbsp;Pair it with a hoppy Polish Zywiec beer or glass of red wine, and you'll be drifting off to sleep in no time.&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 14 Dec 2010 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/steve-dolinsky/something-you-should-eat-bigos-szalas Polish Film Festival brings European cinema to Chicago http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/polish-film-festival-brings-european-cinema-chicago <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/wonderful summer resize.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The 22nd annual <a href="http://www.pffamerica.com/index_en.htm" target="_blank">Polish Film Festival in America</a> is now underway at theaters throughout Chicago. Organizers hail the event as one of the most important European film festivals in America.<br /> <br />This year&rsquo;s schedule includes big stars from abroad as well as the stories of locals. To navigate the schedule and explain some of the bigger themes of Polish cinema, Eight Forty-Eight spoke to Christopher Kamyszew, the festival's founder.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;<br /><strong>The Polish Film Festival in America runs from Nov. 5 -21.<br /></strong><a href="http://www.pffamerica.com/schedule.htm" target="_blank">Schedule</a><br /><a href="http://www.pffamerica.com/tickets.htm" target="_blank">Tickets / Venue Info</a></p></p> Mon, 15 Nov 2010 14:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/polish-film-festival-brings-european-cinema-chicago