Immigration | St. Louis Public Radio

Immigration

From left, Olivia Lahs-Gonzales, Miriam Ruiz and Colin McLaughlin joined Thursday's show  for a focus on immigration, labor and identity through a creative lens.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

While planning for the 20th anniversary of the Sheldon Art Galleries, director Olivia Lahs-Gonzales and her team could have looked to the past, drawing material for this fall’s exhibits from hundreds of retrospective possibilities. But they opted to celebrate the future instead.

“I thought, ‘What better way – since we serve our community – [than] to focus on our immigrant communities and celebrate them and show all of the range of contributions and the issues that surround [immigration], especially in today’s world?’” Lahs-Gonzales said Thursday on St. Louis on the Air. “I think it was really fitting to kind of look out, forward, rather than looking backward.”

She joined host Don Marsh alongside Miriam Ruiz, community programs manager for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, and Colin McLaughlin, musical director for Bread & Roses Missouri, to discuss how the Sheldon and other artistically inclined entities and individuals are deepening St. Louisans' understanding of social issues in creative ways.

Alex and Carly Garcia listen to a Sunday sermon which kicked off a "week of action" in support of their family.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When immigration authorities ordered Alex Garcia to turn himself in for deportation last year, his wife Carly decided to fight to keep her family together.

Instead of driving to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, where Alex would be jailed then sent back to his native Honduras, the couple drove 150 miles to a church in Maplewood.

It’s now been one year since Alex took sanctuary at Christ Church, United Church of Christ.

Unauthorized immigrants in rural areas who seek legal representation can often face roadblocks when trying to find credible lawyers.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:10 p.m. to reflect response from the Missouri Attorney General's Office to questions about notario fraud. — Angie Gomez has seen and heard plenty of stories about how hard it is for unauthorized immigrants and migrant farmworkers to find lawyers to help them apply for, or change their legal status.

Gomez, family services coordinator for Su Casa Head Start in Cobden, Illinois, immigrated from Mexico in the 1960s and became a naturalized citizen. She says she sees more challenges facing migrant farmworkers and unauthorized immigrants seeking legal representation than ever before.

Marchers protest ICE and U.S. immigration policy in downtown St. Louis on July 19, 2018.
St. Louis American

More than 20 immigrant advocates and St. Louis clergy occupied the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in downtown St. Louis Thursday afternoon. With a banner stating “U.S. Funded Kidnapping” and “#AbolishICE,” they held a sit-in at the office, located at Spruce Street and Tucker Boulevard.

“We want to send a message that we do not welcome ICE in St. Louis,” said Amanda Tello, a community organizer for Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA), in an interview with St. Louis American prior to the action. “Most of our actions have not been targeted at ICE, and so it was time to let them know that we see them and that we don’t want them here.”

Ganga Mongar, left, and Sancha Subba, right, receive help from Mongar's daughter Anjali while practicing for the writing portion of the naturalization test. Both women have learned how to read and write to prepare for the test.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Ganga Mongar’s pencil is covered in hearts and a pink eraser cap. She taps it on the table as she reels off the names of the Supreme Court justices. She’s is in her mid-40s, a mother of five, and a student at the St. Louis International Institute, where she’s enrolled in the Literacy Citizenship Preparation course. She comes three times a week for two hours, where, in addition to being drilled on U.S. civics, she’s learning how to read and write in English.

Carly and Alex Garcia meet with U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay at Christ Church in Maplewood on May 25, 2018. Alex Garcia has been living in sanctuary at the church since September.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay is calling on federal immigration officials to approve a stay of removal for Alex Garcia, who took sanctuary in a Maplewood church nearly 10 months ago.

Garcia, 37, moved into the church in September after immigration officials ordered him to report for deportation. A stay of removal would give Garcia temporary permission to remain in the United States and allow him to move back to his home in Poplar Bluff.

Protesters march down Market Street in downtown St. Louis with handmade signs while chanting "We care! We vote!" The “Families Belong Together” rally was one of hundreds nationally on June 6, 2018.
Brian Heffernan | St. Louis Public Radio

Demonstrators gathered in the shadow of the Gateway Arch Saturday to protest the separation of more than 2,300 migrant children from their parents at the U.S. southern border.

A brass band wove through the crowd as St. Louis-area residents chanted and waved handmade signs in Kiener Plaza. The Families Belong Together rally in St. Louis was one of hundreds of marches held nationwide on Saturday.

From left, Dr. Joan Luby, Kristine Walentik and Meredith Rataj discussed practices along the United States’ southern border and their impact on St Louis-area immigrants and refugees.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed the local ramifications of a news story that continues to rock the nation: the treatment of migrant parents and children along the U.S.’s southern border.

Joining him to talk about President Donald Trump’s evolving immigration policies were three St. Louis-area residents whose areas of expertise shed light on the real-life impacts of those policies.

Suk (right) and Chandra Sapkota prepare gardens beds for planting at Global Farms' south St. Louis location on a Saturday in May 11, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The first time Jean de Dieu Sebunyenzi saw American food, he didn’t want to eat it. It was airplane food — hardly America’s finest culinary introduction.

Sebunyenzi had never been on a flight before, much less a 20-plus-hour travel marathon from Rwanda to Amsterdam to New York to his new home in St. Louis. The whole time, he ate nothing. It all looked so foreign to him.

Ngone Seck hugs a friend after receiving her diploma at Riverview Gardens High School's graduation ceremony. May 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Just a few years ago, Ngone Seck arrived in Florissant from Italy and began the seventh grade.

From the start, she was behind her peers. She struggled to adapt to her new country, had trouble learning English, and, at first, did poorly in school.

Today, the Italian immigrant of West African heritage began her first day of college, on a full scholarship. Her journey is paved with the sacrifices of her working-class family, the comfort of her music and the support of good teachers.

SLU soccer stand-out Saadiq Mohammed (at left) and local attorney Javad Khazaeli talked about how they’ve been impacted by recent shifts in U.S. policy.
Evie Hemphill | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis has been home to Saadiq Mohammed for about three years now – ever since he fled Somalia to seek safety and education in the United States. But along with college coursework and soccer at Saint Louis University these days, Mohammed has something else weighing on his mind on a daily basis: whether his request for asylum will be approved.

“It’s really tough,” he told St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh during Monday’s show. “Every day I think about it a lot … When you wake up, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

For most families in the United States, planning for a future without your parents is not something often talked about — at least, not until adulthood.

But for thousands of families with mixed immigration status in the metro, the sudden disappearance of a mother or father — or both — feels like a real possibility. An estimated 20,000 children of unauthorized immigrants live in the Kansas City area, according to 2014 census data analyzed by the Migration Policy Institute.

DACA recipients lead a march through the Delmar Loop on Friday evening. March 2, 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Young immigrants in Missouri who are protected by an Obama administration program that granted them temporary permission to stay in the United States are taking their case to members of Congress.

In Missouri, 3,500 young people have registered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. They want Congress to pass a long-term solution that would allow them to stay in the country.

Alex Garcia poses for a portrait at Christ Church United Church of Christ, where he’s taking sanctuary.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When the letter from immigration officials came in the mail in September, Carly Garcia knew her life was about to change.

Panicked, she opened the envelope then called her husband, Alex, and told him to rush home.

In the past, immigration agents had given Alex Garcia temporary permission to live in the United States with Carly and their five children. But now, the letter said, he had two weeks to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office for deportation.

Eddie Albarran, who is studying photography, took photos of a DACA rally held outside the St. Louis office of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., on Sept. 6, 2017. He spoke at the rally.
Provided | Eddie Albarran

A St. Louis woman from Haiti is among immigrants who are concerned about the future of family members and others without documentation, despite the recent restoration of certain protections.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced it is accepting renewal applications from young people seeking protection under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The Obama-era program protects undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 16 and were under the age of 31 when the grant took effect in 2012. President Donald Trump sought to end DACA. A federal judge temporarily blocked that decision this month.

Jose Garcia holds his daughter, Amanda, at a Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Ferguson. (Nov. 19, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Jose Garcia and his partner, Ana Ortiz, shuffled quietly into the warmth of a packed Sunday Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Ferguson.

Their older daughters, Julissa, 11, and Dana, 7, disappeared into the pews looking for friends. Garcia picked up 5-year-old Amanda and rocked her in his arms.

For more than a decade, Garcia attended Sunday Mass with his family. But this November morning was different.

Faizan Syed (left) and Jim Hacking (right) discuss Trump's latest travel ban.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed enforcement of the latest version of President Trump's restriction on travel to the U.S. from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, with fewer restrictions on visitors from Sudan. New limits and restrictions were added on visitors and immigrants from Chad, North Korea and Venezuela.

Signs held by demonstrators at a Sept. 6 rally in support of the DACA program outside the St. Louis office of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill. The photo was taken by Eddie Albarran who spoke at the rally. He is studying photography.
Provided | Eddie Albarran

Eddie Albarran recalls being nervous — but also very determined — as he waited to address about 60 people gathered outside the St. Louis office of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill last month.

Albarran, who grew up in St. Louis, was about to acknowledge publicly a fact of his life that he usually keeps to himself: He is one of nearly 700,000 young immigrants who have temporary protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The Obama administration created the DACA policy in 2012 for  children who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Many current high school students with temporary immigration status won’t be protected by the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program until they graduate.

That could make it difficult for 16-year-old Karla Vasquez of St. Louis and others to plan for their future, including whether to go to college in the United States. Karla already is thinking of going to another country or returning to Honduras, where she lived until she was 3, because she doesn’t want to live in fear of being deported.

Supporters of immigrants who benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program held a rally Friday at the federal courthouse in St. Louis.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Updated at 4:50 p.m. Tuesday — Immigration lawyers in St. Louis are studying a Trump administration decision to end the Obama-era DACA program that permits some unauthorized immigrants to remain in the United States.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the administration will phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in six months. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials said they are processing renewal requests for DACA recipients whose benefits expire between now and March 5.

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