WBEZ | immigrants http://www.wbez.org/tags/immigrants Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Refugee youth services threatened http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Refugee kids (1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As families prepare for a new school year, some of the most vulnerable kids and parents may have to go it alone. Refugee assistance programs in Illinois are set to lose a federal grant that helps K-12 students transition to life in the U.S., and that supports critical resources for teachers and refugee parents.</p><p>&ldquo;This program will pretty much shut down as of August 14 of 2014,&rdquo; said Melineh Kano, Executive Director of RefugeeONE, a refugee resettlement agency in Chicago. The organizations youth program provides after-school tutoring and social gatherings for roughly 250 refugee children every weekday during the school year, as well as weekend, in-home tutoring for refugee children who often come to the U.S. with little to no English skill, and often below grade level.</p><p>Additionally, the program&rsquo;s case workers are critical to enrolling children in schools when families first arrive, as many refugee parents are unable to fill out the paperwork themselves, and rarely understand what type of documentation they are required to bring to register their children.</p><p>&ldquo;Many of the parents that we are serving haven&rsquo;t really had the opportunity to deal with any formal school systems,&rdquo; explained Kano. &ldquo;So they depend on us to help them and orient them.&rdquo;</p><p>But this year, Kano and those who work with other refugee assistance programs in Illinois, are fretting over whether they&rsquo;ll have money to continue supporting kids and their families through the school year. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement largely funds refugee services, and has recently warned assistance organizations that money is getting tight &mdash; because it also is responsible for the care and shelter of unaccompanied children who are caught illegally migrating to the U.S. The number of children detained since June of 2013 has surged, prompting the ORR to divert money that was earmarked for refugees to deal with the situation.</p><p>Since <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/feds-set-divert-refugee-funds-deal-unaccompanied-minors-110594">WBEZ last reported on this</a>, ORR has announced that it will restore funding to some core services. However, discretionary grants that pay for K-12 support, senior services and preventative health programs remain in jeopardy. In Illinois, youth services received $711,729 last fiscal year.</p><p>Kano said ORR money makes up about 80 percent of the budget for RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program. If that money is not renewed, she said she&rsquo;ll be left with less than one full-time employee to handle K-12 services. She said that means newly-arrived refugee families wouldn&rsquo;t receive the basic education that her organization promotes.</p><p>&ldquo;Something as simple as you have to dress your kids properly for school and you have to feed them breakfast before they go to school,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because otherwise the teacher is going to notice that your child is not well taken care of, and they might call the Department of Child and Family Services for neglect.&rdquo;</p><p>Kano said extreme examples like that are rare, but they could happen more often without the support and intervention of RefugeeONE&rsquo;s case workers. More common are everyday household issues that refugee parents run into, often because they don&rsquo;t know how to support their kids in a new environment.<br /><br />&ldquo;I had a problem with my son,&rdquo; said Amal Khalid, a refugee who arrived from Sudan with her three children last year. &ldquo;My son (didn&rsquo;t) listen to me, and he (didn&rsquo;t) do his homework, and everything. Just he want to sit and watch TV and playing.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said a staff member at RefugeeONE helped by making a schedule for her 8-year old son.</p><p>&ldquo;She said you give him this routine for everything,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;When he (wakes) up, (goes) to school and he (comes) back, eat, and like one hour for writing, reading. I can&rsquo;t do that by myself.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said her son&rsquo;s back on track now.</p><p>RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program also provides a critical, one-stop shop for many teachers who need help reaching students&rsquo; families.</p><p>&ldquo;If something arises throughout the year, that&rsquo;s my first contact, again mostly because of the language barrier,&rdquo; said Benjamin Meier, a math teacher at Roosevelt High school. The school has kids from more than 40 language backgrounds, including Arabic, Nepali, Amharic, Tigrinya, Karen, Zomi, Swahili, Dzongkha, and more.</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE not only helps him communicate with parents, but also teaches parents how to get involved in their children&rsquo;s education.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of the parents traditionally just defer to whatever the school says,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;We prefer more of a give-and-take.&rdquo;</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program has been effective because it brings in families&rsquo; case workers to craft holistic approaches to children&rsquo;s success.</p><p>Kano said RefugeeONE will dip into its general funds to keep services going through September. But if federal funds aren&rsquo;t released by then, the organization is planning to discontinue its youth support in October.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 Refugees raise vegetables, put down roots at urban garden http://www.wbez.org/news/refugees-raise-vegetables-put-down-roots-urban-garden-110149 <p><p>On a recent afternoon in Chicago&rsquo;s Albany Park neighborhood, Linda Seyler chirped at a small crew of helpers from Nepal: &ldquo;Stay there,&rdquo; she said to a group ranging from small boys to grown men. Seyler pulled out a measuring tape as she knelt in a tarp-covered ditch. &ldquo;From here to here is two feet&hellip;&rdquo;</p><p>Seyler was helping two more refugee families measure out their new vegetable plots at the Global Garden Refugee Training Farm, located on busy Lawrence Avenue. It was a cool Sunday, but several families were there, eager to start preparing their long, skinny garden beds for spring planting.</p><p>Janet Saidi, a Congolese refugee who came to Chicago more than a year ago stood next to her family&rsquo;s plot, number 95, rattling off what she&rsquo;s grown. &ldquo;Onion, okra, beans,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;The name of this one I don&rsquo;t know. It&rsquo;s like mushroom? Yes.&rdquo;</p><p>Saidi and the other refugees who garden here all farmed in their native countries. Most hail from conflict-ridden places like Bhutan and Burma, and often don&rsquo;t know any English when they arrive. With the language barriers and the sense that their farming skills have no use in a big, American city, many battle feelings of isolation as they try to settle in.</p><p>&ldquo;Being here (in the city) they feel themselves really worthless,&rdquo; said Hasta Bhattarai, a Bhutanese refugee who now volunteers as an an interpreter for some of the gardeners. &ldquo;But once they are here (in the garden) and once they are able to produce something, that really makes them happy from inside,&rdquo; he continued, &ldquo;and they feel themselves (like) they are back home, and that gives them some kind of spiritual happiness.&ldquo;</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/Refugee-Garden-2.jpg" title="Janet Saidi, a refugee from the Congo, grows okra, onions and beans on her small plot. She said she never imagined she would grow her family’s food in the U.S., as she did in her native country. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></div><p>The garden began with a grant from the Refugee Agricultural Partnership Program, under the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement. Seyler, at the time working for the Coalition of Limited English Speaking Elderly in Chicago, applied for the three-year, nonrenewable grant. In its first year, the garden had 42 families with plots.</p><p>Now in its third growing season, the garden has more than 100 vegetable beds jammed haphazardly against each other, with additional areas reserved for new commercial plots and a quarter-acre reserved for use by the Peterson Garden Project. In all, the refugees use about one acre of the 1.33 acre area. They grow bittermelon, bok choy, okra, mustard greens, and roselles -- a plant related to hibiscus. It&rsquo;s a cheap and convenient way to find the vegetables that they traditionally use for cooking, which may be less common in U.S. supermarkets.</p><p>&ldquo;This garden, it&rsquo;s really changed my life,&rdquo; said Mary Thehtoe, a Burmese refugee whose family had a large farm in her native country. Thehtoe got a plot at the garden when it began, during her first year in the U.S., in 2012.&nbsp; She said at that time she knew no English, and cried every night after she came to the U.S., until she met her refugee case worker. That was the first person she met in Chicago who spoke her language.</p><p>&ldquo;If I don&rsquo;t have garden, I always go to the appointments,&rdquo; Thehtoe said through an interpreter. &ldquo;I have a lot of appointments, like medical appointments, And I stay working at home, and just do house chores, take care of my kids, those kinds of thing. When I got the garden, all the sickness and stress, depression, go away, Because I always think about the garden.&rdquo;</p><p>Thehtoe said she comes to the garden every day.</p><p>Saidi said she never imagined that in the U.S. she would be growing her own food, as she did in the Congo. &ldquo;When I came here, I said, &lsquo;Oh my God, I don&rsquo;t know (if in) America, if they have fresh food,&rsquo;&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Yes, they are also farming, and I said &lsquo;Oh my God,&rsquo; it was exciting.&rdquo;</p><p>The garden&rsquo;s success has earned attention from the Governor&rsquo;s office, which wants to replicate it in places like Rockford, Elgin and Aurora. Meanwhile, the grant that started the garden has run out. Its organizers are planning to make the garden self-sustaining with commercial production and an expansion of the farm&rsquo;s community supported agriculture program, which allows individuals to buy &ldquo;shares&rdquo; in the garden&rsquo;s seasonal produce.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2Foyousef&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNHKQ6bayggMubwgs9U53FsOML-b9A">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https%3A%2F%2Ftwitter.com%2FWBEZoutloud&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNGciFiqidUKx7xm655BDbaPU9eB3g">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p><p><em>Correction: This article incorrectly referred to the Peterson Garden Project. It has been corrected.</em></p></p> Wed, 07 May 2014 15:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/refugees-raise-vegetables-put-down-roots-urban-garden-110149 Immigrants face barriers on health care site http://www.wbez.org/news/immigrants-face-barriers-health-care-site-109698 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/ACA immigrants_web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>More than two months after the Obama administration declared <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/">healthcare.gov</a> working &ldquo;smoothly for the vast majority of users,&rdquo; immigrants who try to sign up are still encountering serious glitches.</p><p>On Wednesday, federal officials <a href="http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2014pres/02/20140212a.html">trumpeted</a> the fact that more than 1 million people signed up for private insurance in January, with Illinois accounting for nearly 89,000 of those enrollees. With fewer than 40 days until the deadline to enroll without incurring a penalty, much of the attention has turned to so-called &ldquo;young invincibles,&rdquo; a term for young, healthy people who will likely have lower health care costs.</p><p>There&rsquo;s no similar focus on immigrants, WBEZ has found, who continue to face significant hurdles with identity and citizenship verification, and faulty determinations of eligibility for Medicaid. In Illinois, the task of finding and navigating around those barriers often falls to scrappy enrollment specialists who work directly with those clients at community health centers. On top of their jobs, they are finding themselves tasked with bringing the glitches to the attention to state and federal authorities, and lobbying for them to be fixes.</p><p>Illinois, which is one of seven states to engage in a state-federal partnership, relies on the federal site to handle the enrollment function for plans offered on the state&rsquo;s insurance marketplace. Under the Affordable Care Act, immigrants are required to have insurance if they reside lawfully in the U.S. &ndash; even if they are not citizens.</p><p>&ldquo;Since November I have frequently made visits, and every time I made a visit I&rsquo;ve stayed at least 3-4 hours,&rdquo; said Zejna Belko, a 51-year old Bosnian immigrant who described her attempt to enroll in the healthcare exchange with the help of enrollment counselors at the Hamdard Center on Chicago&rsquo;s far North Side. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve also had individuals from other agencies try to help us out.&rdquo;</p><p>Belko, who&rsquo;s lived in the U.S. with a green card for 16 years, said she&rsquo;s spent up to 30 hours working with enrollment specialists. Still, they haven&rsquo;t even been able to start her application because the system cannot verify her identity. So far, Belko has twice mailed identifying documents, such as copies of her green card and social security card, to the Department of Health and Human Services, to no avail.</p><p>&ldquo;My blood pressure rises,&rdquo; she said through a translator. &ldquo;I get very frustrated and angry because I&rsquo;m an honest person and I&rsquo;m not hiding anything, and I don&rsquo;t understand what the problem is. I just want to get health care coverage.&rdquo;</p><p>In a small health center in Wicker Park, Graciela Guzman said she sees these cases all the time. Most frequently, the issues with identity verification is done via checking an applicant&rsquo;s credit history &ndash; something Guzman said many newer immigrants don&rsquo;t yet have.</p><p>&ldquo;They haven&rsquo;t been here long enough to be considered &lsquo;bankable,&rsquo;&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Like a lot of them have been paid by cash. Maybe they don&rsquo;t have banks. Maybe they don&rsquo;t own property. So the system has a harder time just finding them.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>The Morning Shift: How an ACA enrollment specialist is helping immigrants in Chicago</strong></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/134626873&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Guzman works with a team of five enrollment specialists at <a href="http://www.primecarechi.org/">PrimeCare Community Health</a>, a small clinic based in St. Elizabeth&rsquo;s Hospital in Chicago&rsquo;s Wicker Park neighborhood. About half of their clients are immigrants. Her team encounters hurdles to enrollment so frequently, they&rsquo;ve managed to cobble together a complicated flow sheet of workarounds. For identity verification problems, they&rsquo;ve found that calling the federal Health Insurance Marketplace Call Center, and later uploading or mailing a client&rsquo;s identification documents, usually helps to get an application started</p><p>But there are other barriers. Through trial and error, they found success in ignoring the site&rsquo;s directions to fill out information completely, and instead repeatedly clicking &ldquo;continue and save&rdquo; when they get an error on citizenship verification. The most significant challenge, however, appears not to have a workaround.</p><p>&ldquo;Most of our clients receive incorrect eligibility determinations, that tell them that they&rsquo;re eligible for Medicaid,&rdquo; said Guzman.</p><p>This is the case for lawful permanent residents whose incomes would qualify for Medicaid, but who are barred from enrolling in that program because they&rsquo;ve lived in the U.S. less than five years. Once the site directs an enrollee to apply for Medicaid, it does not allow them back onto the private healthcare exchange, where these clients should be.</p><p>&ldquo;We have brought this to the attention of our federal counterparts,&rdquo; said a state spokesman, &ldquo;and we believe they have been working to address it by adding new questions to <a href="https://www.healthcare.gov/">healthcare.gov</a> late last week that will allow people to get through to the Marketplace once they have been issued a denial.&rdquo;</p><p>In other words, immigrants are advised to apply for Medicaid even when they know they are ineligible for it, just to receive a denial. But since Medicaid eligibility was expanded under the Affordable Care Act, a backlog in applications has led to significantly longer processing times.&nbsp;</p><p>Guzman and her team of so-called &ldquo;navigators&rdquo; say, as they discover glitches, they&rsquo;ve relayed them to state and federal officials. So far, they have enrolled more than 600 immigrants to the healthcare exchange. In addition to the discoveries they&rsquo;ve made about getting through the technical difficulties, the team is also working out ways to handle the unexpected emotional impact of the job.</p><p>&ldquo;On our days off, we&rsquo;re constantly thinking about patients, which is like ludicrous,&rdquo; said Martin Jurado, who works with Guzman at PrimeCare. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think anybody else does that. You know? Somebody that you&rsquo;ve barely met, you barely know, yet you know everything about their life, what they&rsquo;re going through, and you&rsquo;re carrying that, and a lot of people didn&rsquo;t tell you that, starting off the bat.&rdquo;</p><p>Guzman found that <a href="http://guzmangraciela.wordpress.com/">blogging </a>helps her process their experiences. She writes of frustrations with the healthcare exchange website, but also about clients that stick in her head.</p><p>&ldquo;People really weren&rsquo;t hearing the complexity of the website, they weren&rsquo;t hearing people&rsquo;s fears and difficulties in getting through the website,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And so we wanted to share some of what&rsquo;s going on.&rdquo;</p><p>Together, she said, they have come to realize they are witnessing a moment: droves of people are coming out of the shadows because the law requires them to &ndash; and they&rsquo;re coming with needs that extend far beyond just health care.</p><p>&ldquo;We get them comfortable and primed, hopefully, for enrollment,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;but then they&rsquo;ll turn around and kind of like almost offhandedly be like, &lsquo;so you helped me with this, can you help me with housing? Can you help me with food stamps? I have some domestic stuff going on, where do I go?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Guzman said she believes they&rsquo;re on the frontier of a new phase. She, Jurado, and the rest of their team will stick around after the crush of enrollment ends March 31st, helping people change or update their health plans. But she said they&rsquo;ll also continue to serve as access points to community resources when immigrants don&rsquo;t know where to go.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef" style="text-decoration:none;">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" style="text-decoration:none;">@WBEZoutloud</a></em></p></p> Thu, 13 Feb 2014 12:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/immigrants-face-barriers-health-care-site-109698 Sheriff slams Secretary of State on driver's license rollout http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-slams-secretary-state-drivers-license-rollout-109216 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/MarkCurran.JPG" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px; float: right; height: 233px; width: 275px;" title="Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran says Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White’s office is dragging its feet on setting up a driver’s license program for immigrants who are in the country illegally. (Photo courtesy of Lake County Sheriff’s office)" />A suburban Chicago sheriff says Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White&rsquo;s office is dragging its feet on setting up a driver&rsquo;s license program for immigrants who are in the country illegally.<br /><br />Lake County Sheriff Mark Curran points out that White&rsquo;s office, which is launching a pilot phase of the program, is scheduling just 120 appointments a day for applicants to present their proof of state residence and take their driving exams.<br /><br />The pilot phase comes almost 10 months after Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a measure making as many as 500,000 immigrants in Illinois eligible for a &ldquo;temporary visitor&rsquo;s&rdquo; license.<br /><br />&ldquo;I would expect this type of a pace if the law passed in Alabama, where we have a hostile immigrant tone,&rdquo; said Curran, a Republican who pushed for the law. &ldquo;But, in Illinois, there was overwhelming support for this legislation.&rdquo;</p><p>White, a Democrat, announced his support for the measure but Curran is questioning the secretary of state&rsquo;s sincerity in light of the law&rsquo;s implementation. &ldquo;Actions sometimes speak louder than words,&rdquo; the sheriff said.<br /><br />Curran says the secretary of state&rsquo;s office should have set up the program faster because many of the immigrants are already behind the wheel. &ldquo;We want people to have taken a driver&rsquo;s test,&rdquo; Curran said. &ldquo;We want people to have insurance. We want people to understand the rules of the road.&rdquo;<br /><br />Henry Haupt, a spokesman for White, bristled at the criticism. &ldquo;It would be irresponsible and reckless for our office to roll out a program of this magnitude statewide without first thoroughly testing it,&rdquo; Haupt said.<br /><br />&ldquo;Keep in mind that the state of California has been given approximately two years to implement [a similar] program,&rdquo; Haupt said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve had to set all of this up without any additional revenue provided by the General Assembly. To just open up facilities throughout the state without testing it and potentially have thousands upon thousands of individuals showing up at facilities wouldn&rsquo;t do anyone any good.&rdquo;<br /><br />Haupt says the appointment scheduling will get faster in mid-December. By February, he said, the secretary of state&rsquo;s office will offer the appointments at 36 facilities statewide.<br /><br />Another suburban sheriff who helped push the measure into law says the pace of its implementation doesn&rsquo;t bother him. &ldquo;If the program is rolling out slower than expected, I would rather see it done slowly and correctly than to push it and have it done fast and mistakes be made,&rdquo; said Kane County Sheriff Patrick Perez, a Democrat.</p><p>But that approach will keep many immigrant drivers unlicensed for months to come. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been in the United States for 23 years,&rdquo; said a stay-at-home mother of Chicago&rsquo;s Southwest Side who drives her children to school and her father to dialysis appointments. &ldquo;We need that document to live well here,&rdquo; she said, asking that her name not be published.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 21 Nov 2013 13:22:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/sheriff-slams-secretary-state-drivers-license-rollout-109216 Immigrant job deaths up 14% in two years http://www.wbez.org/news/immigrant-job-deaths-14-two-years-107069 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/familia centeno 003a CROPfixed.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The number of job fatalities among U.S. immigrants is increasing, a WBEZ analysis of <a href="http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshcfoi1.htm">U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics</a> data has found.</p><p>Foreign-born worker deaths rose 13.9 percent from 2009 to 2011, the most recent year for which data are available. Fatal injuries of U.S.-born workers during the period edged up just 1.0 percent.</p><p>Of the 843 immigrants who died from job injuries in 2011, Mexicans accounted for 349 (41.4 percent). The second largest group was Salvadoran, a nationality that accounted for 40 (4.7 percent) of the deaths. Next on the list were Guatemalan, Honduran and Indian immigrants &mdash; all with 24 (2.8 percent).</p><p>Immigrants constituted 18.0 percent of the country&rsquo;s 4,693 workers who suffered fatal job injuries in 2011. The annual percentage had increased each year going back to 2008, when foreign-born workers accounted for 16.0 percent of job fatalities.</p><p>Muzaffar Chishti, who directs the Migration Policy Institute office at New York University, says the immigrant fatality increase could be more than a statistical anomaly.</p><p>&ldquo;As recession has taken hold, employers have tightened their belt,&rdquo; Chishti said. &ldquo;And many of the labor standards, especially related to safety, go out the window.&rdquo;</p><p>Chishti also points to factors that inhibit immigrants from defending their workplace rights. Many foreign-born workers face language barriers. And many end up working for temporary agencies or other employers that can easily replace them.</p><p>The most vulnerable immigrants lack authorization to be in the United States &mdash; making them even less likely to speak up for their rights, Chishti said, because they fear their bosses will turn them over to immigration authorities.</p><p>Immigrant temporary workers who suffered a fatal job injury in 2011 included Chicago resident Carlos Centeno, 50, a Mexican native scalded by nearly boiling acid in a Bedford Park factory. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/98-minutes-radio-story-104504">A WBEZ and Center for Public Integrity investigation</a> of Centeno&rsquo;s case found that the federal government is not keeping close track of temp-worker injuries.</p><p>Immigrants in the country illegally are also more likely to work in dangerous industries, such as construction and meatpacking, Chishti said.</p><p>The AFL-CIO highlighted immigrant worker fatalities Tuesday in an <a href="http://www.aflcio.org/Issues/Job-Safety/Death-on-the-Job-Report">annual safety report</a>. &ldquo;Fatalities among foreign-born or immigrant workers continue to be a serious problem,&rdquo; the report said.</p><p>In Illinois, 38 immigrants died from job injuries in 2011. The state number had ranged from 23 to 42 since 2006.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 08 May 2013 07:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/immigrant-job-deaths-14-two-years-107069 Conservative legal group challenges Cook County immigration policy http://www.wbez.org/news/conservative-legal-group-challenges-cook-county-immigration-policy-106782 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP111129143637.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Invoking the Boston Marathon bombings, a national conservative group has filed a lawsuit aimed at a Cook County ordinance that requires jail personnel to disregard federal immigration detainers.</p><p>Washington-based Judicial Watch says the county has no legal right to ignore the detainers, which are U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement requests that local jails hold specified individuals up to two business days beyond what their criminal cases require.</p><p>President Obama&rsquo;s administration says the detainers, which help ICE put the inmates into deportation proceedings, are crucial for focusing immigration enforcement on criminals.</p><p>Cook County officials say detainers also erode community trust in local police. In 2011, the County Board approved an ordinance that halted detainer compliance by the county&rsquo;s massive jail. ICE abruptly lost convenient access to hundreds of immigration violators each year.&nbsp;Lawmakers in other parts of the country, meanwhile, approved bills modeled after the policy.</p><p>The suit, which claims federal law preempts the ordinance, asks Cook County Circuit Court to strike down the local measure and compel Sheriff Tom Dart to comply with the detainers.&nbsp;The suit accuses Dart of &ldquo;failure to carry out his legal duties under both federal and state law.&rdquo;</p><p>At a Monday press conference Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton pointed to last week&rsquo;s news events. &ldquo;In light of the Boston Marathon bombings, there is a national-security component to these detainers by ICE.&rdquo;</p><p>Authorities say two Chechen immigrants &mdash; one a permanent-resident visa holder, the other a naturalized U.S. citizen &mdash; are suspected of having planted the bombs that exploded April 15 in Boston.</p><p>Judicial Watch is representing the suit&rsquo;s plaintiff, Chicago&nbsp;resident&nbsp;Brian McCann, who is the brother of a pedestrian killed in a 2011 hit-and-run collision in Chicago&rsquo;s Logan Square neighborhood. The alleged driver, a Mexican immigrant named Saúl Chávez, had a DUI conviction. He&nbsp;was arrested and charged with the hit and run. A Cook County judge set the bond at $250,000.</p><p>ICE suspected Chávez was in the country illegally and slapped a detainer on him. But after the county enacted the ordinance, Chávez posted $25,000&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;the required 10 percent of the bond. He walked free and went missing.</p><p>&ldquo;Dart is thumbing his nose at the federal government and replacing federal immigration priorities with Cook County&rsquo;s own immigration policy,&rdquo; Fitton said. &ldquo;Releasing these criminal aliens before they can be taken into custody by ICE endangers the public.&rdquo;</p><p>Fitton echoed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton, who have said the Cook County ordinance threatens public safety.</p><p>That claim was the subject of a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-detainers-public-safety-issue-99190" target="_blank">WBEZ investigation</a>&nbsp;that&nbsp;found that inmates freed as a result of the ordinance had not reoffended or jumped bail more than other former inmates had.</p><p>Dart&rsquo;s office, in a statement late Monday, pointed to the sheriff&rsquo;s support for allowing the county to honor ICE detainers for inmates charged with violent offenses and inmates with a number of prior convictions.</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 22 Apr 2013 16:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/conservative-legal-group-challenges-cook-county-immigration-policy-106782 Joliet detention-center talks include private prison firm http://www.wbez.org/news/joliet-detention-center-talks-include-private-prison-firm-103436 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CCA_hall.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 200px; width: 300px; " title="CCA owns and operates Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Ga. The facility is one of many in which the company holds detainees for ICE. (AP File/Kate Brumback)" />A top Joliet official says his talks exploring possibilities for an immigrant detention center in the city have included the nation&rsquo;s largest private prison operator.</p><p>City Manager Thomas Thanas told WBEZ he had engaged in a &ldquo;preliminary conversation&rdquo; with officials of Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America to see &ldquo;whether Joliet might be a suitable site&rdquo; for a facility that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement wants in the Chicago area.</p><p>Thanas declined to say when and where the conversation took place or what details were discussed. &ldquo;We have not reviewed plans,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Nothing has been filed on a formal basis.&rdquo;</p><p>Joliet officials are &ldquo;not talking about any specific sites at this point,&rdquo; Thanas said. He added that &ldquo;a facility like this could not be located near a residential area, schools or a commercial district.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas referred questions about site possibilities to CCA, whose spokesman referred inquiries to ICE, which declined to discuss the Joliet project.</p><p>The federal agency sent a statement that said building a Chicago-area detention center would help improve immigrant confinement conditions and enable &ldquo;locating detainees closer to where they are apprehended so that they can be near their families, community resources and the ICE field office.&rdquo;</p><p>What would Joliet get? &ldquo;Hundreds of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent jobs,&rdquo; Thanas said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m always interested in projects that have an opportunity to create jobs and revenues for our school district.&rdquo;</p><p>Federal officials met with Thanas about the project October 17 in Washington, he said. &ldquo;It was a fact-gathering opportunity for both them and me.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas also briefed some City Council members about the detention-center possibility.</p><p>But officials managed to keep the project out of public view until the Chicago Tribune revealed it late Wednesday. Within hours, some Joliet activists and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights began organizing opposition.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t believe you should be making a profit off of tearing families apart because they&rsquo;re undocumented,&rdquo; said Richard Rodríguez, a Joliet resident who chairs the Mexican American Coalition of Will County. &ldquo;There should be comprehensive immigration reform. Address the issue properly.&rdquo;</p><p>Thanas replied that national immigration policy was not Joliet&rsquo;s business. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a matter of federal concern,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Joliet&rsquo;s nine City Council members on Thursday declined to comment or did not return messages about the project.<br /><br />The Joliet talks follow a highly publicized setback for ICE and CCA in south suburban Crete, where the agency wanted the company to build and run a 788-bed detention center. Village trustees rejected the plan June 11 after months of protests by residents, human-rights advocates and public-sector unions.</p><p>CCA had greater success in Springfield. The company lobbied against Illinois legislation that would have banned government agencies at the local and state levels from contracting with private firms to build or run civil detention centers. The bill passed the Senate in March but stalled after a series of close House floor votes May 31.</p></p> Fri, 26 Oct 2012 05:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/joliet-detention-center-talks-include-private-prison-firm-103436 Cook County’s disregard of ICE detainers catches on http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county%E2%80%99s-disregard-ice-detainers-catches-100818 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SecureCommunitiesRallyNYCscale.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 375px; width: 250px; " title="Diana Mejia of Madison, N.J., prays during a 2011 rally in New York City to condemn Secure Communities, a U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement program that relies on jail compliance with agency requests known as detainers. (AP file/Mary Altaffer)" />A Cook County policy of disregarding immigration detainers is catching on. Lawmakers in other parts of the country, most recently the District of Columbia on Tuesday, have approved bills modeled after the policy.</p><p>Some Republicans are pressing President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration to take reprisals against those jurisdictions. In a hearing Tuesday, the chairwoman of a U.S. House homeland security panel urged Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton to punish Cook County for its stand.</p><p>The detainers &mdash; ICE requests that local jails hold specified individuals up to two business days beyond what their criminal cases require &mdash; help put the inmates into deportation proceedings. Jail compliance with detainers is a key part of Secure Communities, a program that has helped the Obama administration shift immigration enforcement toward criminals.</p><p>Cook County officials say detainers also erode community trust in local police. Last September, the County Board approved an ordinance that halted detainer compliance by the county&rsquo;s massive jail. ICE abruptly lost convenient access to hundreds of immigration violators each year.</p><p>&ldquo;The Cook County legislation was very critical and a part of the development for the legislation in the District of Columbia,&rdquo; said Ron Hampton, a retired Metropolitan Police officer in the nation&rsquo;s capital who has pushed the D.C. bill.</p><p>Hampton pointed to a legal opinion that supporters of the Cook County measure obtained from State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez&rsquo;s office last year. That opinion, citing a federal court ruling in Indiana, called detainer compliance voluntary and helped convince the Cook County Board to approve the ordinance. Hampton said the opinion added weight to what he called &ldquo;a model piece of legislation.&rdquo;</p><p>Since the Cook County ordinance passed, New York City, the state of Connecticut and the California county of Santa Clara have also curtailed their compliance with immigration detainers.</p><p>On July 5, the California Senate approved similar legislation that would affect the entire state. That bill is expected to pass the state Assembly. Gov. Jerry Brown has not indicated whether he would sign it into law.</p><p>At the U.S. House hearing, Rep. Candice Miller (R-Michigan) said Secure Communities had &ldquo;excellent buy-in&rdquo; from jurisdictions across the nation. Miller, chairwoman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, called Cook County &ldquo;the big holdout&rdquo; and asked Morton about it.</p><p>Morton repeated an administration claim that Cook County&rsquo;s disregard of ICE detainers compromised public safety. That claim was the subject of a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ice-detainers-public-safety-issue-99190">WBEZ investigation</a> completed in May. Inmates freed as a result of the ordinance, the investigation found, have not reoffended or jumped bail more than other former inmates have.</p><p>Morton also told the subcommittee about letters he had written to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle to spell out his concerns. &ldquo;We have been working with the county to see if there isn&rsquo;t some solution,&rdquo; Morton said. &ldquo;I won&rsquo;t sugarcoat it. I don&rsquo;t think that that approach is going to work in full. We&rsquo;re going to need the help of others. We have been exploring our options under federal law with the Department of Justice.&rdquo;</p><p>Morton said he would also push for a cutoff of some federal funds for the county&rsquo;s jail.</p><p>That vow won praise from Miller. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t tell you how delighted I am,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;If they&rsquo;re not going to assist us in removing not only criminal aliens but those that might go on to commit a terrorist attack or what-have-you, because they want to have their city become a sanctuary, the federal government cannot stand by idly and allow that to happen.&rdquo;</p><p>As other jurisdictions adopt the Cook County approach, some enforcement advocates are calling for a tougher federal response.</p><p>Ira Mehlman, spokesman of the Washington-based Federation for American Immigration Reform, points out that the Obama administration has sued states such as Arizona and Alabama for taking immigration enforcement into their own hands</p><p>&ldquo;Yet, when it comes to jurisdictions that have openly defied federal enforcement, then the Justice Department seems to have enormous patience and is extremely lenient,&rdquo; Mehlman said.</p></p> Wed, 11 Jul 2012 16:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county%E2%80%99s-disregard-ice-detainers-catches-100818 Immigration enforcement program faces novel suit http://www.wbez.org/news/immigration-enforcement-program-faces-novel-suit-100646 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ColoradoFingerprinting.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 214px; height: 250px; " title="A sheriff’s deputy in Centennial, Colo., prepares to fingerprint a suspect as part of booking into the Arapahoe County Justice Center. Secure Communities runs the fingerprints of everyone booked into jail against immigration records. (AP File/Chris Schneider)" />We&rsquo;ve been hearing a lot about how immigration enforcement intersects with local law enforcement. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an Arizona requirement that police officers check the immigration status of people they stop for other reasons. Now we&rsquo;ll hear from our West Side bureau about a suburban Chicago man who got tangled up with immigration enforcement after a drug arrest. He has filed a suit that offers a novel challenge to one of President Obama&rsquo;s key immigration-enforcement programs.</p><p>MITCHELL: There&rsquo;s no doubt James Makowski of Clarendan Hills did something illegal. In 2010 police caught him with heroin and he pleaded guilty to that. A judge approved him for a state-run boot camp. But that&rsquo;s not where Makowski ended up.</p><p>MAKOWSKI: I thought I would be home in 120 days but -- then after I get a note back from a counselor, after I&rsquo;d asked about when I&rsquo;d be shipping to boot camp -- she said that I was ineligible for boot camp due to an immigration detainer.</p><p>MITCHELL: That&rsquo;s basically a flag in his file from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency known as ICE. So . . .</p><p>MAKOWSKI: I got sent to the maximum-security penitentiary in Pontiac.</p><p>MITCHELL: And he stayed for about two months. How did this happen? It comes down to an ICE program called Secure Communities. In that program, FBI fingerprint data about people booked at local jails get run against immigration data. If a check yields a match, ICE can issue one of its detainers. The point is to catch people in the criminal justice system who are not authorized to be in the U.S. and eventually deport them. The thing is, Makowski had every right to be in the country.</p><p>MAKOWSKI: I feel like I got punished twice for what I did in my past.</p><p>MITCHELL: Makowski&rsquo;s detention was based on faulty information. He was born in India and adopted by a U.S. family. When he was 1, the government granted him citizenship. But &mdash; at age 22, when he got picked up on the heroin charge &mdash; the feds didn&rsquo;t have their records right. So, Makowski stayed in that maximum-security pen before authorities straightened things out and let him into the boot camp. On Tuesday, Makowski filed a federal suit over all this. Defendants include top officials at the FBI, ICE and their parent departments. Makowski claims that when the FBI shared data with ICE &mdash; and when ICE didn&rsquo;t keep track of his citizenship status &mdash; they violated his rights under the U.S. Privacy Act. Legal experts say the suit appears to be the first challenge to Secure Communities under that law. Makowski&rsquo;s attorneys include Mark Fleming of the Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center.</p><p>FLEMING: There [are] simple ways in which both the FBI and ICE could be in compliance with the Privacy Act.</p><p>MITCHELL: Fleming says ICE could, for example, interview suspected immigration violators before slapping detainers on them.</p><p>FLEMING: Unfortunately, the system does not provide those basic checks right now and, so, there are many more U.S. citizens that are getting wrapped up into this.</p><p>MITCHELL: Officials at ICE and the departments of Justice and Homeland Security did not answer our questions about the suit Tuesday (see&nbsp;<a href="#note">UPDATE</a>). An FBI spokesman said his agency does not comment about pending litigation outside the courtroom. But a supporter of tougher immigration controls doubts that the Privacy Act protects U.S. citizens from what Makowski endured. Jessica Vaughan directs policy studies for a Washington group called the Center for Immigration Studies. Vaughan says the FBI and ICE share the fingerprint information for legitimate law-enforcement purposes.</p><p>VAUGHAN: Mistakes can be made. But that is not necessarily a reason to throw out the whole system.</p><p>MITCHELL: Vaughan says it&rsquo;s important to keep something else in mind.</p><p><a name="note"></a></p><p>VAUGHAN: The individual who&rsquo;s filing this suit would not have had anything to worry about had he not been convicted of a serious crime to begin with. He was convicted of a drug crime.</p><p>MITCHELL: Convicted he was. But Makowski says no one should have to serve extra time behind bars because of errors in immigration records.</p><p><em>After a deadline for Tuesday&rsquo;s broadcast of this story, ICE provided this statement: &ldquo;The information-sharing partnership between the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI serves as the cornerstone of Secure Communities, and fulfills a mandate required by federal law. This information sharing does not violate the Privacy Act. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is evaluating the allegations contained in the lawsuit; however, we do not comment on pending litigation.&rdquo;</em></p><p><em>The ICE statement continues: &ldquo;In December ICE announced a new detainer form and the launch of a toll-free hotline &mdash; (855) 448-6903 &mdash; that detained individuals can call if they believe they may be U.S. citizens or victims of a crime. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by ICE personnel at the Law Enforcement Support Center. Translation services are available in several languages from 7 a.m. until midnight (Eastern), seven days a week. ICE personnel collect information from the individual and refer it to the relevant ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Field Office for immediate action.&rdquo;</em><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 04 Jul 2012 10:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/immigration-enforcement-program-faces-novel-suit-100646 Crete trustees reject detention center plan http://www.wbez.org/news/crete-trustees-reject-detention-center-plan-100006 <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/CreteCouple.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; width: 233px; height: 258px;" title="Village residents in April marched against the project, in which Corrections Corporation of America would have held detainees for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (WBEZ/Charlie Billups)" /></div><p><em>Updated with reactions from ICE and an immigrant advocate June 12 at 4:47 p.m.</em></p><p>After months of rancor among its leaders and residents, a Chicago suburb has rejected a plan by the country&rsquo;s largest private prison operator to build and run an immigrant detention center.</p><p>A unanimous voice vote of Crete&rsquo;s six trustees Monday night ended village negotiations with Nashville-based Corrections Corporation of America. The vote came just hours after an unsuccessful negotiating session between Crete and CCA officials. Village President Michael Einhorn said the vote blocks the project &ldquo;as of now.&rdquo;</p><p>The decision thrilled residents who have campaigned against the plan since last fall. &ldquo;When lots of little people get together, it&rsquo;s possible that the big guns will listen,&rdquo; said Marimonica Murray, a leader of the group Concerned Citizens of Crete, which led opposition to the detention center.</p><p>Under the proposal, Crete would have contracted with CCA, which would have owned the medium-security facility and held more than 700 foreign nationals awaiting deportation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.</p><p>Crete officials say they first learned about the project from CCA in 2010. ICE announced last summer that the federal agency had &ldquo;tentatively selected&rdquo; Crete for the facility.</p><p>Village officials touted the potential for scores of permanent jobs. They also talked up expected taxes and per-detainee payments for the village.</p><p>But the proposal met stiff resistance from Crete residents worried that the detention center would drag down property values, stretch village services too thin and threaten public safety. Those residents aligned with immigrant advocates who said CCA treated its detainees and workers poorly. The company disputed those claims.</p><p>Illinois legislation that would have derailed the project sailed through the Senate in March. The bill would have banned government agencies at the local and state levels from contracting with private firms to build or run civil detention centers. A close House floor vote last month defeated the measure.</p><p>After Crete trustees turned down the planned detention center, a written statement from company spokesman Steven Owen called the outcome &ldquo;disappointing to the taxpayers, job seekers and local businesses that stood to benefit from this economic boost.&rdquo; The statement said the company &ldquo;will continue to work closely with ICE in meeting their needs in the region.&rdquo;</p><p>A statement Tuesday from President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration says ICE will review proposals for a detention center elsewhere in the Chicago area. The statement says a facility would help improve the confinement conditions and &ldquo;allow for some consolidation of detainees closer to their place of apprehension and immigration proceedings.&rdquo;</p><p>Fred Tsao, policy director of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, said the administration instead ought to use its Crete setback as an opportunity to allow more immigration violators to remain in their homes. &ldquo;Why is ICE keeping these thousands of people in detention at great expense to taxpayers when many of these individuals pose no threat to the community?&rdquo; Tsao asked.</p></p> Mon, 11 Jun 2012 22:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/crete-trustees-reject-detention-center-plan-100006