WBEZ | immigration reform http://www.wbez.org/tags/immigration-reform Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Lawyers fear speedy deportations harm minors http://www.wbez.org/news/lawyers-fear-speedy-deportations-harm-minors-110715 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/rocket docket.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Lawyers who work with unaccompanied, illegal child migrants in Chicago are raising the alarm over new fast-track deportations, saying the process may result in a denial of due process in court. Referring to the expedited schedulings as the &ldquo;rocket docket,&rdquo; many fear that children may be scheduled for court hearings so quickly that they may not have time to find lawyers, or if they do, their lawyers will not have enough time to craft a defense case. Ultimately, this could result in more children returning to the dangerous environments that they&rsquo;d fled.</p><p>&ldquo;We somehow got notice of hearings that they had been scheduled to attend in Chicago on a Monday, and this was on a Thursday or Friday when they contacted us, &rdquo; said Lisa Koop, associate director of legal services at the National Immigrant Justice Center. &ldquo;We thought it was a fluke or a glitch in the system.&rdquo;</p><p>The NIJC helps thousands of immigrant children that pass through federal shelters in Chicago. Koop said kids who arrived in the Spring originally had seven or eight months between the time the Department of Homeland Security filed a Notice to Appear in Chicago&rsquo;s immigration court, and the &ldquo;master calendar hearing,&rdquo; which signals the opening of removal proceedings against an immigrant. But those hearings have suddenly been moved up several months, to August.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s not a lot of time to secure an attorney, begin to develop case theory, start to strategize about how this case ought to be prepared and presented moving forward,&rdquo; said Koop.</p><p>In fact, Koop said scores of children whose master calendar hearings were moved up had not even received notice of the change.</p><p>&ldquo;We very quickly learned a lot of the children weren&rsquo;t aware they had these hearings,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;either because the notices hadn&rsquo;t reached them yet or because the notices had been sent to an incorrect address.&rdquo;</p><p>The address discrepancies were likely because the child had been reunited with family elsewhere in the country shortly after the Notice to Appear had been filed in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve really shifted gears and our whole staff is just calling all of these kids that are on dockets, and trying to figure out where they are, and letting them know they have court,&rdquo; she said. Koop said NIJC attorneys have been getting permission from the children to move to change venue for the children&rsquo;s cases. On one day earlier this month, they filed 200 motions for change of venue on behalf of kids that once, but no longer, were sheltered in Chicago.</p><p>The U.S. is dealing with record numbers of unaccompanied children coming across the Southwest border. In the ten months leading up to August, nearly <a href="http://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/documents/SWB%20Family%20and%20UAC%20Apps%20through%20July.pdf">63,000</a> were caught. More than three-quarters come from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. Koop said nearly 60 percent of the children that the NIJC screens in Chicago shelters are eligible for asylum, or some other form of protection against removal.</p><p>&ldquo;Our concern is that there is a compromise of due process when they&rsquo;re required to press forward with a case before they&rsquo;re able to fully prepare it, before they&rsquo;re able to have any opportunity to recover from whatever trauma or negative experience gave rise to the need for them to flee,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Attorneys who work with unaccompanied minors say trauma, and deep emotional distress, is common among child migrants. Alex, a 17-year old Salvadorian who fled his home two years ago to avoid recruitment to a gang, is one example. Because he fears reprisals against his family, WBEZ is not using his full name.</p><p>&ldquo;I had been jumped on three occasions and I didn&rsquo;t feel safe. I wanted to move... from my home to another place, but I didn&rsquo;t know where to go,&rdquo; said Alex. &ldquo;My country is small and the gangs are everywhere. My dad had also become afraid that they might kill me, or something. He said maybe the best way for me to get away from them would be to come to the United States.&rdquo;</p><p>Alex&rsquo;s father arranged for him to take buses and cars with strangers from El Salvador, through Guatemala, into Mexico, and ultimately across the U.S. border. He made the journey with dozens of others. But after days walking and sleeping in the desert, they were caught by border patrol.</p><p>Alex was taken to a children&rsquo;s shelter in Houston, where lawyers tried to start working on his case. But he fell into a deep depression.</p><p>&ldquo;When I had those problems, I didn&rsquo;t want to talk to anyone,&rdquo; Alex said. &ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want to leave my room. I just stayed in bed.&rdquo;</p><p>The lawyers couldn&rsquo;t help Alex in that condition, so they transferred him to a mental health treatment center for nine months. Ultimately, Alex recovered and won asylum. He&rsquo;s 17 now, and lives with family in Chicago.</p><p>Without that time to recover, Alex said he wouldn&rsquo;t have been able to help his lawyer understand why returning home would be dangerous. Under the new docket system, he likely would have been sent back. That&rsquo;s what lawyers fear will happen now to other children.</p><p>The Department of Justice&rsquo;s Executive Office for Immigration Review confirmed that it&rsquo;s prioritizing children&rsquo;s removal cases, but denied that it compromises due process. In an email to WBEZ, a spokeperson wrote &ldquo;...the immigration judge ensures that the individual understands the alleged immigration law violations. The judge also provides information on available free or low-cost legal representation resources in the area.&rdquo;</p><p>But lawyers who help migrant children say that&rsquo;s not enough. It often takes several months for children to schedule a legal screening and to secure an attorney who&rsquo;s willing to take the case for free. Experts who work with the children say they hope immigration judges across the country will grant children continuances in their cases, to allow them extra time to find counsel. But even that may not be enough.</p><p>&ldquo;The rubber&rsquo;s really going to meet the road when the children show up after these several weeks of their continuance, and what the judge does if the child does not have an attorney,&rdquo; said Megan McKenna of Kids in Need of Defense, a New York-based nonprofit that helps migrant children find pro bono attorneys across the U.S.</p><p>&ldquo;What we&rsquo;re going to be seeing is 70-90 percent of these children will not be represented in their deportation proceedings,&rdquo; McKenna added, &ldquo;and that can mean children being sent back to situations of harm, and this is the harm they fled.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Vocalo&rsquo;s <a href="https://twitter.com/NorthsideLou">Luis Antonio Perez</a> contributed translation for this story.<br />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> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 17:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/lawyers-fear-speedy-deportations-harm-minors-110715 Protesters want Obama to end mass deportations http://www.wbez.org/news/protesters-want-obama-end-mass-deportations-109982 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/protest1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>More than 200 people, including groups of children, are staging a two-day march drawing attention to mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. The protesters want the Obama administration to end the practice by executive order.</p><p>The march, which began this morning at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in downtown Chicago before heading west. It is an extension of this past weekend&rsquo;s National Day of Action against deportations.</p><p>As of this month, around 2 million undocumented people have been deported since Barack Obama took office, which is approaching the record set by his predecessor, George W. Bush.</p><p>Immigration reform advocates have shifted their focus recently&nbsp; to putting an emphasis on the number of mass deportations. Previously their priority was pushing for immigration reform legislation. An immigration bill passed the U.S. Senate early last year but has stalled in the House since June).</p><p>&ldquo;Two million (is) too many,&rdquo; says Rosi Carrasco, with Organized Communities Against Deportations. &ldquo;It is possible to stop deportations with the organization, determination, and strength of our community. President Obama can use his executive authority to avoid that detention centers continue to profit from human suffering.&rdquo;</p><p>The Chicago-area protests will continue into tomorrow. Lawrence Benito is executive director of the Illinois Commission for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and he says the focus on mass deportations highlights the continued frustration he has with Obama -- who he said pledged to pursue immigration reform as an agenda item he would tackle during his second term.</p><p>&ldquo;He promised our communities that passing immigration reform would be a priority,&rdquo; says Benito. &ldquo;Instead he has prioritized enforcement. He can remedy the situation while Congress debates immigration reform, through administrative relief.&rdquo;</p><p>Advocates want the president to take the same approach he did in 2012 when he ended the deportation for so-called &ldquo;Dreamers,&rdquo; young people who were brought into the country with undocumented relatives.&nbsp;</p><p>Marchers began their demonstration at ICE shortly after 10 a.m today. Their route wends through the city, including a stop in the heavily Latino South Side community of Pilsen, before decamping tonight in the western suburbs.</p><p>Tuesday&rsquo;s events are scheduled to start at the Broadview Detention Center. That is where more people are scheduled to take part in civil disobedience protests.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ Host/Producer Yolanda Perdomo on <a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://plus.google.com/u/0/106564114685277342468/posts/p/pub">Google+</a></em></p></p> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 12:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/protesters-want-obama-end-mass-deportations-109982 Morning Shift: What's next for immigration reform on a local and national level http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-21/morning-shift-whats-next-immigration-reform-local-and <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/chip mitchell.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Morning Shift is on the road this morning at our West Side Bureau in Chicago&#39;s Little Village neighborhood for conversations around immigration reform &ndash; where do we stand and where do we go from here?<iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-immigration-reform-in-illinois-and-t/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 21 Nov 2013 12:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-21/morning-shift-whats-next-immigration-reform-local-and Stalled immigration reform takes toll on Polish theater group http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/stalled-immigration-reform-takes-toll-polish-theater-group-109029 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Republicans immigration.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A small Polish theater company says they&rsquo;re another victim of stalled legislation on immigration reform. Teatr Brama Goleniow is regrouping after U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services denied eight of their company members visas to bring a stage production to the Logan Square/Avondale neighborhood.</p><p>The group had planned Chicago showings of Emotions in Sound &nbsp;in late September, a production they&rsquo;ve previously brought to the Ukraine, Peru, Scotland and Greece. But the U.S. visa snafu has delayed their plans to share the production with U.S. audiences.</p><p>&ldquo;In the beginning we applied for tourist visas,&rdquo; explained Jennifer Crissey, actor and project manager at Teatr Brama.</p><p>Crissey said she had been advised by officials at the U.S. embassy in Warsaw to apply for B-visas because their company was small, and did not view their intended travel as one that would yield commercial profit.</p><p>&ldquo;The actors going wouldn&rsquo;t be receiving salary, they wouldn&rsquo;t be getting paid to do this project,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Crissey said when the group went to the U.S. embassy in Warsaw for their visa interview in August, however, they were told that they should instead apply for artists&rsquo; visas.</p><p>&ldquo;So they essentially advised us one thing, and then changed their mind,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Crissey said that&rsquo;s when she asked the company&rsquo;s Chicago-based partner, Voice of the City, to sponsor their petition for P-3 visas, a class of visa specific to culturally unique artists and entertainers.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it was very evident in the application that this was geared for commercial exchanges on a scale that we just weren&rsquo;t doing,&rdquo; said Dawn Marie Galtieri, artistic director of Voice of the City, an arts alliance based in the Logan Square/Avondale neighborhood, &ldquo;so it started to make us very nervous.&rdquo;</p><p>Galtieri said she had to obtain a letter from the American Guild of Musical Artists to support their petition, as well as provide additional paperwork attesting to the wages and hours of the actors, contracts detailing the parameters of the production, and flyers and press releases about the show.</p><p>&ldquo;Really, it&rsquo;s a process for big stars,&rdquo; Crissey said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s when some big name comes from another country to play here, and they&rsquo;re playing at like United Center or some big stage like that.&rdquo;</p><p>Crissey estimated that in total, Teatr Brama spent nearly $3,000 in applying for the visas. Still, they were denied.</p><p>&ldquo;And I never in a million year thought that after providing them with all of the evidence that they asked for that we would get such an empty answer like, &lsquo;this isn&rsquo;t culturally unique enough,&rsquo;&rdquo; said Crissey, &ldquo;because, who can be the judge of that?&rdquo;</p><p>Crissey and Galtieri said they are now cobbling together an ensemble of actors from Chicago and across Europe who have authorization to travel to the U.S., and that they plan to move forward with the production in the absence of the original cast.</p><p>The show will be staged in mid-November.</p><p>A representative from Congressman Michael Quigley&rsquo;s (D-Illinois) office said that if Congress had moved on immigration reform this summer, Teatr Brama&rsquo;s visa woes might not have happened.</p><p>Poland, unlike many of its European Union counterparts, is not included in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. without first obtaining visas. Quigley and other members of Illinois&rsquo;s congressional delegation have &nbsp;been <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/polish-community-may-get-travel-perk-immigration-reform-107412">pushing to expand the parameters of the program</a> to include more countries, such as Poland.</p><p>In addition to a standalone bill that he has introduced in the House, Quigley also helped ensure that language to broaden the program be included in immigration legislation that the U.S. Senate passed in June.</p><p>Meanwhile, with just 18 days left in the House legislative calendar this year, pressure continues to mount for U.S. House Republicans to take up an immigration bill.</p><p>On Tuesday, hundreds of conservatives from business, faith and law enforcement groups converged on Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers to nudge them toward bringing legislation to the floor for a vote.</p><p>&ldquo;Ultimately, if you&rsquo;re going against this legislation, you are absolutely going against the entire faith community and you are also going against essentially what every respected economist in America has been asking for,&rdquo; said Sheriff Mark Curran of Lake County.</p><p>Curran is among a handful of conservatives from Illinois joining the effort. The effort is organized by the Partnership for a New American Economy, the Bibles, Badges and Business for Immigration Reform network, FWD.us, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.</p><p>Earlier this month, House Democrats introduced a comprehensive immigration bill, after a bipartisan committee failed to produce its own bill. Congressman Jeff Denham (R-California) is the sole Republican to cosponsor the bill, along with 185 Democrats.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 29 Oct 2013 13:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/stalled-immigration-reform-takes-toll-polish-theater-group-109029 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 Polish Village hopes immigration reform leads to revival http://www.wbez.org/news/polish-village-hopes-immigration-reform-leads-revival-107990 <p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s Polish Village was once a thriving community, with a cluster of old-fashioned delis open during the day and a hopping club scene at night. Visit the retail corridor along northwest Milwaukee Avenue today, and you still see Polish money exchanges, travel agencies and restaurants. But like a lot of ethnic enclaves that were once initial landing pads for immigrants, the neighborhood has seen better days, Now, some in Polish Village believe the area is ripe for revitalization thanks to immigration reform.</p><p>The recently-passed Senate immigration bill contains a provision that would loosen visa requirements for visitors from several countries, including Poland. It focuses on tweaking the Visa Waiver Program, under which visitors from dozens of countries enjoy fast-lane privileges when they visit the U.S. Right now, Poland is not one of them.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Polish%20Village%203_1.jpg" style="float: right; height: 300px; width: 300px;" title="Many businesses in Polish Village sit closed and vacant. Ski’s Lounge, an unassuming bar, is a recent casualty. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></p><p>&ldquo;You have to sink over $100 just to have the chance to maybe come,&rdquo; explained Dan Pogorzelski, Executive Director of the Greater Avondale Chamber of Commerce. &ldquo;You have an interview process and people have said numerous times that they can ask very invasive, very degrading questions when they&rsquo;re waiting.&rdquo;</p><p>Indeed, Poles hoping to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days pay a $160 non-refundable visa application fee. After that, the U.S. embassy or Consulate in Poland has full discretion to grant or deny a person&rsquo;s bid to come, based on their assessment of how likely the individual is to attempt overstaying the visa illegally.</p><p>In Chicago, loosening those travel requirements could be a boon to the business district that Pogorzelski represents in Avondale.&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Polish%20Village%204%282%29.jpg" style="float: left; height: 225px; width: 300px;" title="Peter Bacik’s father once owned a successful deli on Milwaukee Avenue in Polish Village. Now he runs one 10 miles north in Niles. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></p><p>&ldquo;Many of these stores have been closing,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and this is certainly one way that these establishments certainly hope that they can revitalize their business.&rdquo;</p><p>In store after store along Milwaukee Avenue, Polish business owners lament the drop in business they&rsquo;ve seen over the last 25 years. &ldquo;Now it&rsquo;s worse. Much less people than before,&rdquo; said Danna Pluta, owner of the Podlasie Club, a dance venue and bar. &ldquo;Three-quarters less people than there were before.&rdquo;</p><p>Pogorzelski and others attribute Polish Village&rsquo;s decline to three factors. First, many Polish immigrants in Chicago moved to the suburbs once they were more established in their lives. Then in 2004, Poland joined the European Union, opening all of Europe to Polish workers. Finally, the Great Recession of 2008 drove many Poles from Chicago back to Poland for a better economy.</p><p>With less Poles moving to the U.S. for work, Pluta hopes a new Visa Waiver Program will boost tourism and help make up for it. &ldquo;She&rsquo;s like please, save this district. This is so beautiful, this location,&rdquo; Pogorzelski translated for Pluta, &ldquo;she asked me to tell you how good it is, and we need to make sure we save this area.&rdquo;</p><p>But it could be dangerous for Pluta and others to place all their hope in tourism. Immigration reform is not a done deal, and the changes to the Visa Waiver Program might get dropped from the bill. Plus, who can say if Polish tourists will even want to come here?</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Polish%20Village%20%28thumbnail%29.JPG" style="height: 225px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Many business owners in Chicago’s Polish Village say the neighborhood’s last hope for revitalization may lie with immigration reform. They hope new legislation will make it easier for Polish tourists to come visit their establishments. (WBEZ/Odette Yousef)" /></p><p>&ldquo;Really, to be honest, you have to be very realistic and honest with yourself. You&rsquo;re hoping more than anything else,&rdquo; said Peter Bacik, owner of First Choice Bacik Deli. Bacik worries Polish tourists might visit Polish communities in Connecticut and New York before they think about Chicago.</p><p>Bacik&rsquo;s speaking from experience. His father once owned a deli in Polish Village, but it closed when the neighborhood started changing. &ldquo;Nothing lasts forever,&rdquo; said Bacik. He said local business owners shouldn&rsquo;t count on immigration reform to give Polish Village a boost. Instead, they should worry about finding customers who are already here.</p><p>That&rsquo;s what he and his wife did when they opened their own deli about 20 years ago. They&rsquo;re still on Milwaukee Avenue &mdash; but 10 miles north of Polish Village, in Niles.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/oyousef" target="_blank">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" target="_blank">@WBEZoutloud.</a></em></p></p> Tue, 09 Jul 2013 07:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/polish-village-hopes-immigration-reform-leads-revival-107990 Durbin unhappy about compromises in immigration bill http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-unhappy-about-compromises-immigration-bill-107988 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/DurbinIMMG.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin met Monday with Latino immigrant community leaders in Chicago to discuss immigration reform, at times responding to some heated criticism of the bill he helped steer through the Senate last month.</p><p>In just two days, U.S. House Republicans plan to meet to figure out how to tackle the issue.</p><p>More than once, Durbin said he was unhappy about some compromises he made in order to come up with, and pass, SB 744. Durbin was one of the so-called &ldquo;Gang of Eight&rdquo; senators who drafted the legislation. In particular, he recalled how he felt about a final amendment that added 20,000 border patrol agents and called for the completion of a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexican line -- two measures that helped win the 68-32 vote on the bill.</p><p>&ldquo;Alright, I&rsquo;m going to just close my eyes and grit my teeth and I&rsquo;m going to vote on more damn money on that border than I could ever possibly explain or rationalize,&rdquo; Durbin said of the vote.</p><p>At one point during the invitation-only event, co-sponsored by the Latino Policy Forum and the University of Illinois at Chicago, women at one table began silently holding up signs as Durbin spoke.</p><p>&ldquo;Your &lsquo;pathway&rsquo; = genocide,&rdquo; read one of them, referring to the 13-year pathway to citizenship that the Senate bill offers to many immigrants who have been living in the U.S. illegally.</p><p>Things escalated briefly when one audience member interjected, during the Q&amp;A session, that the Senate bill &ldquo;is a bill not for poor people,&rdquo; referring to its requirement that immigrants earn at least 100 percent of the federal poverty level to remain on a pathway toward citizenship.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll tell you what&rsquo;s not for poor people: The current situation is not for poor people,&rdquo; Durbin responded, angrily. &ldquo;How would you like to be part of the 12 million people undocumented in this country, subject to deportation at any minute, having to work off the books, hoping that when you get picked up in front of the Home Depot and promised you&rsquo;re going to get $25 at the end of the day, they won&rsquo;t push you out of the car?&rdquo;</p><p>Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are slated to meet Wednesday to discuss their party&rsquo;s strategy on immigration reform.</p><p>So far, the House approach to immigration reform has been unclear. They appear unlikely to take up the Senate bill. A bipartisan group of seven Congressmen have drafted their own comprehensive bill, which the lawmakers may take up. Alternatively, the House may pass several pieces of legislation in a piecemeal approach.</p><p>Durbin said Monday that whatever the House passes, he&rsquo;ll work with, as long as it preserved a pathway to citizenship.</p><p>&ldquo;If the House Republicans come back and say we&rsquo;ll let them stay here legally but not become citizens, no way,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Look at France. Look at the countries that try to embed within their population some group that is not a citizens group. It is an invitation for division, an invitation for social disaster.&rdquo;</p><p>The issue of a pathway to citizenship remains deeply divisive among House members. Some say it amounts to amnesty, and have instead proposed a pathway to legalization, rather than full citizenship.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-42709e17-c091-6561-ddb8-4bb0285dfe3d"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her </span><a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@oyousef</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;"> and </span><a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZoutloud" style="text-decoration:none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@WBEZoutloud</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.</span></span></p></p> Mon, 08 Jul 2013 18:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/durbin-unhappy-about-compromises-immigration-bill-107988 Some Illinois lawmakers angry with U.S Sen. Kirk over immigration http://www.wbez.org/news/some-illinois-lawmakers-angry-us-sen-kirk-over-immigration-107685 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/immigration_130613_kk.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Local lawmakers are calling out Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk for voting not to debate immigration reform at a federal level.</p><p>State representatives, senators, Chicago aldermen and community leaders met at Benito Juarez High School in Pilsen where Illinois lawmakers signed the Dream Act two years ago.</p><p>Cook County Commissioner Jesus Garcia said he is shocked and dismayed at how Kirk is representing Illinois when it comes to immigration.</p><p>&ldquo;This is about leadership. It&rsquo;s about the future of the country. It&rsquo;s about what is in Illinois&rsquo; best interest,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Sen. Kirk is out of touch with what is going on in Illinois and in the country.&rdquo;</p><p>Kirk has said he wants to see a bipartisan strategy to strengthen border security before moving forward for immigration overhaul.</p><p>Ald. Rey Colon (35th) said his drive to Benito Juarez from the Humboldt Park neighborhood was evidence of Latinos&rsquo; positive effect on a community.</p><p>&ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t help but notice the number of businesses that are immigrants - businesses that are fueling our economy,&rdquo; Colon said.</p><p>&ldquo;These are Sen. Kirk&rsquo;s constituents. The children in this school are Sen. Kirk&rsquo;s constituents, and all these people are crying out for reform,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) says he wants a final vote on the bill by July 4.</p><p><em>Katie Kather is an arts &amp; culture reporting intern at WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/ktkather" target="_blank">@ktkather</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 13 Jun 2013 16:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/some-illinois-lawmakers-angry-us-sen-kirk-over-immigration-107685 Study: Undocumented immigrant youth languish in adult jails http://www.wbez.org/news/study-undocumented-immigrant-youth-languish-adult-jails-107539 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Immigrant children_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A Chicago-based immigrant advocacy group has obtained data showing many unaccompanied immigrant youth are held in adult detention facilities longer than federally prescribed.</p><p>The National Immigrant Justice Center, which represents children who pass through federal custody facilities in the Chicago area, received the numbers after a two-year legal battle with the Department of Homeland Security. As part of a settlement, the <a href="http://www.immigrantjustice.org/sites/immigrantjustice.org/files/NIJC%20Fact%20Sheet%20Minors%20in%20ICE%20Custody%202013%2005%2030%20FINAL.pdf" target="_blank">NIJC secured information from 30 of the more than 200 adult immigrant detention facilities across the country</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;The government is failing to provide even the most basic protection for children,&rdquo; said Mary Meg McCarthy, Executive Director of NIJC. &ldquo;Our system has designed a place that&rsquo;s age-appropriate for immigrant children, and that&rsquo;s not adult detention facilities that are jails.&rdquo;</p><p>According to the data, more than 1,300 children were kept at adult immigration detention centers for more than three days between 2008 and 2012. Three of those facilities, the Jefferson County Jail, McHenry County Jail, and Tri-County Jail, are in Illinois.</p><p>Under the <a href="http://www.justice.gov/olp/pdf/wilberforce-act.pdf" target="_blank">Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008</a>, unaccompanied immigrant minors are required to be transferred to the federal Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours of apprehension. The law makes an allowance for exceptional circumstances, particularly if the child is thought to pose a threat to national security. But McCarthy says she doubts that accounts for many cases.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s something else behind this number, which is very unclear to me what&rsquo;s driving this,&rdquo; said McCarthy. WBEZ has reported that in the last two years, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/sharp-rise-young-unaccompanied-illegal-immigrants-tests-us-107511" target="_blank">the U.S. has seen a tripling of unaccompanied immigrant minors</a>, largely coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Many of them pass through Chicago while in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, under HHS.</p><p>A <a href="http://womensrefugeecommission.org/forced-from-home-press-kit">2012 survey</a> by the Women&rsquo;s Refugee Commission found similar stories among roughly 150 children who immigrated illegally to the U.S. without adults. It found that many children reported being detained in overcrowded, low-temperature holding cells at adult detention facilities, at times denied blankets, adequate food, and showers. Most important, said McCarthy, is that children there are denied access to legal counsel.</p><p>In a written response to the NIJC report, ICE stated:</p><p>&ldquo;ICE takes the responsibility of caring for Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) seriously and as of 2008, unaccompanied minors are not permitted to be detained by ICE for any longer than is necessary for Health and Human Services (HHS) to take custody of the minor. &nbsp;It is against ICE policy to detain an unaccompanied minor for more than 72 hours and in no instance will an unaccompanied minor be housed in an ICE detention facility while awaiting transfer to HHS. Unaccompanied minors are carefully kept in staging facilities away from the general population and minors are only held in ICE custody when accompanied by their parents in a facility designed to house families.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef" target="_blank">@oyousef</a>&nbsp;and at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZOutLoud" target="_blank">@WBEZOutLoud</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 05 Jun 2013 08:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/study-undocumented-immigrant-youth-languish-adult-jails-107539 Sharp rise in young, unaccompanied illegal immigrants tests U.S. http://www.wbez.org/news/sharp-rise-young-unaccompanied-illegal-immigrants-tests-us-107511 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Immigrant children.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>An often-forgotten fact in the immigration debate is that lately, <a href="http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/publications/ois_ill_pe_2011.pdf">illegal border crossings to the U.S. have stagnated</a>. Except that&rsquo;s not the case for one category of immigrants: unaccompanied children.&nbsp; In just the last couple of years, the number of minors apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol has nearly tripled. Many of these kids come through Chicago, where agencies are scrambling to handle the load.</p><p>&ldquo;My brother, he called me and was telling me about the risk, but I just didn&rsquo;t listen to that,&rdquo; said Juan Cordoba, a young 17-year old whose real name WBEZ is withholding because he is an undocumented minor. &ldquo;I just thought that I wanted to be here, that I wanted to help my family.&rdquo;</p><p>With his attorney providing translation, Cordoba tells of how he was finishing high school in Honduras, living with his mother, stepfather and sisters, when he decided there was no point staying there.</p><p>&ldquo;As we all know, Honduras has a lot of corruption problems, there&rsquo;s a lot of violence, there&rsquo;s not a lot of opportunities,&rdquo; he said, &ldquo;and so as young people, we graduate and then you have no options, there&rsquo;s no jobs available, there&rsquo;s nothing.&rdquo; Cordoba said he believed there would be job opportunities in the U.S., so he decided to leave his family for what he hoped would be a better future.</p><p>It took Juan two months to cross Honduras and Mexico by bus and on foot. He ended up in McAllen, Texas, near the border. But then things fell apart. Juan fell into the hands of U.S. Border Security officials, who threw him into a federal detention facility.</p><p>&ldquo;It was really bad. They don&rsquo;t treat you nice,&rdquo; he remembered. &ldquo;They don&rsquo;t treat you like a human, they treat you like an animal. It was just not good.&rdquo;</p><p>Juan has two brothers in Chicago, so immigration enforcement transferred him to a child center here, in the custody of the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement under the federal Department of Health and Human Services.* He was released after a few weeks to stay with his brothers as his immigration case proceeds.</p><p>Most unaccompanied youth are detained near the border, but many, like Juan, end up in Chicago -- one of the largest off-the-border hubs for unaccompanied minors in the U.S. In the last two years, the number of children brought to federal detention facilities here has exploded, from fewer than 400 in 2011 to nearly 1,300 a year later. The Chicago area used to have just one child detention facility; today, it has seven, in undisclosed locations.</p><p>The spike in Chicago mirrors a national trend. The Office of Refugee Resettlement expects to handle more than 23,000 children this year, triple what it saw two years ago.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of them are just fleeing violence or fleeing some sort of bad situation,&rdquo; said Ellen Miller, an attorney at the National Immigrant Justice Center, which represents all unaccompanied children in federal custody in Chicago. Miller said most of the increase is coming from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of them are coming to reunite with their family members who are already here,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Some of them, yes, we do have suspicion that there is other motivations in making them come here,&rdquo; she added, alluding to common cases in which children are trafficked to the U.S. for sex against their will. She said this is a particularly big problem with children who arrive from India and China.</p><p>The sudden influx has highlighted problems with how the U.S. handles these children. Lawyers like Miller represent them while they&rsquo;re here in federal detention centers.<br />But often that only lasts a few weeks, until they&rsquo;re placed in the custody of someone else, usually a family member. When that happens, the children are often flown out of Chicago, and the relationships with their attorneys ends. But their immigration cases must continue in the place they now live.</p><p>&ldquo;Right now kids are expected to find their own attorneys,&rdquo; said Maria Woltjen, Director of the Young Center for Immigrant Children&rsquo;s Rights at the University of Chicago. Woltjen said non-government agencies try to find pro-bono attorneys for these kids, but sometimes they can&rsquo;t.</p><p>&ldquo;We expect these kids to walk into that federal building, to find the courtroom, to go into that courtroom and figure out what to do,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;And there&rsquo;s nobody there to receive them, there&rsquo;s no one there to greet them.&rdquo; According to Miller, some children that come to Chicago are as young as five years old, too short even to see above the bench in a courtroom.</p><p>Woltjen thinks there should be other changes, as well. She believes there should be a separate court system for immigrant minors, kind of like juvenile criminal court. Right now, kids are often on the same docket as adults.</p><p>&ldquo;We actually were accompanying a released child to court,&rdquo; recalled Woltjen, &ldquo;she was about 16 years old, and the judge, who was a very good judge...(hears an) adult case, adult case, adult case, and then this child&rsquo;s case, and the judge called her &lsquo;ma&rsquo;am.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Woltjen said judges and immigration officials are struggling with the increase in numbers, too. Without lawyers for the kids, they&rsquo;re often unsure if deportation is safe or in the kids&rsquo; best interest.</p><p>But Woltjen said the stress on the system may end up being a good thing.</p><p>&ldquo;It is putting more attention on this population of children,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;So I think it&rsquo;s not only the NGO advocates who are pushing for changes in the system, but right now we think also the government agencies would like to see a change in the system.&rdquo;</p><p>Woltjen is particularly optimistic about changes that could come about through immigration reform. Woltjen credited U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) with including measures to help unaccompanied children in the so-called Gang of Eight bill. It would allow judges to appoint free legal counsel to unaccompanied minors. But there&rsquo;s no guarantee it will be kept in the final bill.</p><p>As for Cordoba, he says he&rsquo;s lucky to have a lawyer, and to live with his brothers while his immigration case unfolds. But he is still struggling with the memories of how he got to this country. Cordoba stressed the dangers crossing from Mexico into the U.S., but stopped short of describing how he got caught. His attorneys say before Cordoba was detained he was the victim of a crime. Cordoba&rsquo;s trying to forget it, and said to some extent, he regrets coming to the U.S.</p><p>&lsquo;&ldquo;But now that I&rsquo;m here, and I have this opportunity, I want to make the best of it and be able to stay here,&rdquo; he said. Cordoba said he&rsquo;s eager to get out of immigration court limbo and to to start working. Ultimately he hopes to go back to school and pursue a profession where he can help people.</p><p>He said he&rsquo;d like to become a doctor, or an immigration attorney.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and at <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZOutLoud">@WBEZOutLoud</a>.</em></p><p><em>*Correction: This article originally stated that the Office of Refugee Resettlement falls under the U.S. State Department. It is actually under the federal Department of Health and Human Services.</em></p></p> Tue, 04 Jun 2013 01:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/sharp-rise-young-unaccompanied-illegal-immigrants-tests-us-107511