A pro immigration rally in Kirkwood in 2013 asked that families not be divided.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Beacon | file photo

As Rosa watched President Barack Obama spell out an executive order on immigration Thursday night, her feelings were mixed. Rosa, who is an undocumented immigrant in St. Louis, asked that we only use her first name.

She could qualify for temporary deportation relief under Obama’s executive action orders — she has a son who is a U.S. citizen. But even though she qualifies, she’s saddened that many fellow immigrants don’t.

DON"T USE TOO SMALL Claire McCaskill
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

With a notable exception, congressional reaction to President Barack Obama's decision to issue an executive order on immigration divided predictably along partisan lines.

Republicans universally panned Obama’s action as “lawless” and unconstitutional while Democrats, for the most part, praised and defended his decision to act where Congress has failed.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., issued a statement that managed to criticize both congressional inaction and the reliance on executive orders to address such an important and contentious issue.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., says she learned a lot from her unsuccessful run for governor in 2004.
Sen. McCaskill's Flickr page

The president and his administration are maintaining regular contact with Missouri officials ahead of an announcement by the grand jury investigating the shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., told reporters this week that she spoke with President Barack Obama on Tuesday for what she described as a “full and complete discussion about a lot of issues surrounding Ferguson.”  She added that “I’m in contact with the Department of Justice every few days, encouraging them to continue their independent and complete investigation.”

NathanReed / Flickr

On the national level, the issue of immigration seems to be as divisive as ever. President Barack Obama is reportedly preparing to sign an executive order to protect millions of people from deportation. In response, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has warned that if the president acts unilaterally, it will “poison the well” when it comes to relations with GOP members of Congress.

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services

Miguel tries to protect his mom when his father hits her, but he knows that when his parents think he is asleep, the shouting and hitting will start up again. He wonders if it is his fault. He considers running away from home, but that would mean leaving his little sister. He is also afraid of seeking help because, although he was born here, his mom came to this country without a visa. Miguel thinks his mom might get in trouble if anyone finds out.

Dara Taylor of Community Catalyst.
Durrie Bouscaren / St. Louis Public Radio

At a YMCA in North St. Louis, Nancy Kelley of the Missouri Foundation for Health coached about 50 navigators on how to encourage people to purchase health insurance this year.

“In some ways, we got the easy people last year. Maybe they were motivated, maybe they had some knowledge about the marketplace. So we need to get creative,” Kelley told the crowd.

152,335 people bought health insurance on the federal exchange last year, according to the Cover Missouri Coalition. The organization’s goal is to bring the amount of uninsured Missourians below 5 percent in five years.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Friday morning a new initiative to help international students find jobs at local companies is being unveiled. Called the International Student Global Talent Hiring Program, the effort is being spearheaded by the St. Louis Mosaic Project, an initiative to make the St. Louis region the fastest growing major metro area of foreign-born residents by 2020.

Community members signed this banner to welcome undocumented youth from Central America. If St. Louis is granted funds to house migrant children, the banner would hang in one of the facilities where the children would stay.
Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

Whether or not St. Louis will play host to migrant children who are part of the Central American border surge is still unclear. In the meantime, community members are praying.

Nearly 70 people gathered at Tower Grove Park for a prayer vigil for migrant children.

The vigil was hosted by a coalition of organizations that, along with St. Louis and St. Louis County, applied for federal grants to help house undocumented youth from Central America.

Nearly 60,000 undocumented children have crossed the border between the United States and Mexico since October 2013. Some of the children have made their way to St. Louis.

Kristine Walentik, an attorney at Catholic Legal Assistance Ministry in St. Louis, says many of the organization's recent clientele are coming from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Jim Howard | St. Louis Public Radio

Following a delay that tested the ability of a new team of House Republican whips, lawmakers approved on Friday night a $694 million border security plan and a separate bill aimed at curbing President Barack Obama’s ability to expand deferrals of young immigrants by executive action.

While Republicans worked into the night to pass the legislation before adjourning until September, neither bill is expected to be passed by the Senate, which had already adjourned Thursday night.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Updated with comments from the press conference, reactions.

St. Louis, St. Louis County and about a dozen social service agencies plan to seek federal money to provide temporary shelter and care to some of the thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America crossing the southern border of the United States.

The African Diaspora Council Inc. is holding its first annual Nelson Mandela celebration this weekend. The event marks Nelson Mandela's 96th birthday. 

The African Diaspora Council’s event includes a dinner, a cultural performance, a 6K run and a soccer tournament.  

The tournament, which is scheduled for Saturday evening, will feature four teams representing different countries.  The teams will consist of players of varying African descent and other local community members.

(via Department of Homeland Security website)

St. Louis has long benefited from immigrants. At the turn of the 20th century, St. Louis had almost 600,000 inhabitants, making it the fourth largest city in the nation behind New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. And of those people, almost 20 percent were foreign-born and more than 40 percent had foreign-born parents.

Igor Lisovsky
Maria Vladimirova

Russian journalist Maria Vladimirova spent time in St. Louis this fall, and visited Chicago and Memphis. She recently sent in what she gleaned from Russian expatriates she met while in the United States. The following has been edited for space and clarity.

Immigration Groups Continue To Pressure Rep. Wagner

Nov 25, 2013
Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Pro-immigration reform groups are continuing to put pressure on Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-St. Louis County). About 15 people rallied Monday in Kirkwood, calling for her to address comprehensive immigration reform.

Several people spoke at the rally. Some shared stories of being separated from family members after deportation, while others spoke about not being able to leave the country for a loved one’s funeral.

Lawrence Nwachukwu heads Basilico Engineering, a firm in St. Louis. He said he’s been trying to get his siblings to legally emigrate from Nigeria.

Immigrants rally in Kirkwood to push for congressional passage of legislation.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon. - After 19 years in the United States, some of it as an undocumented Hispanic immigrant, Norma Andrade succeeded three weeks ago in completing the process to become a U.S. citizen.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon - When Cileia Miranda-Yuen first came to St. Louis from Brazil in 1999 to pursue a master’s degree at Webster University, her initial reaction to the area was less than positive.

“The first year I was here, I couldn’t wait to find a way out,” said the 47-year-old Clayton resident. “I was really not happy. I didn’t feel embraced. I felt judged.”

NathanReed / Flickr

Earlier this year, St. Louis leaders launched the St. Louis Mosaic Project, an initiative to make the region the fastest growing metro area for immigrants by 2020.

According to Betsy Cohen, who is managing the project, the St. Louis community is making great strides.

The goal of the St. Louis Mosaic Ambassador Program is to make the area more welcoming to non-native people.

(Kate Essig/St. Louis Public Radio)

Nearly 100 activists rallied for immigration reform outside the federal courthouse in St. Louis this morning, calling on the U.S. House of Representatives to vote on a new immigration reform bill (HR 15.)

The bipartisan bill passed the Senate this summer and includes a pathway to citizenship and tougher border security, but has yet to be brought to a vote in the House. 

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Even though most of the political discussion in Congress is focused on fully funding the government, last Wednesday an immigration bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

On Saturday, a more than five mile interfaith “pilgrimage” from St. Cecilia Catholic Church in south St. Louis City to St. Alphonsus “Rock” Catholic Church in mid-town was aimed at returning immigration reform to the political forefront.

The march was one of 100 similar events held across the country.

Albrecht Dürer / Wikimedia Commons

The Archdiocese of St. Louis is urging pastors and deacons to preach this Sunday on the connection between Catholic social teachings and immigration reform.

Giovanni Madriz is Program Coordinator with the Office of Hispanic Ministry, and says the immigration reform package passed by the U.S. Senate is consistent with Catholic teachings. 

“The bottom line is that justice and mercy have to guide our approach to immigration reform," Madriz says.  "Those principles must be met, must be respected.  Comprehensive immigration reform will be just law, will be merciful.”   

Soccer scores with bringing people together

Sep 4, 2013
Beacon archive | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Moving to a new town or city can be a daunting experience for anybody; friends and family have often been left behind with little to no knowledge of where the path ahead may lead. So imagine the difficulty for those arriving from different countries; having to navigate a new language, traverse a new culture and in some cases learn how to drive on the opposite side of the road.

Local Uzbeks form group to support growing community

Aug 16, 2013
Anvar Zakirov
Ryan Schuessler | St. Louis Beacon | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: More than 100 Uzbek immigrants and their families gathered at a park in Olivette over the weekend to observe the Muslim holiday of Eid, a celebration to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

The group couldn’t have asked for better weather. There were coolers overflowing with soda, a small pack of children manufacturing an elaborate sand castle, and tables of food, including plov — a national dish in Uzbekistan made of beef, rice and carrots.

(Veronique LaCapra/St. Louis Public Radio)

Comprehensive immigration reform is critical to sustaining the Midwest’s role as a global leader in agriculture.

That’s the message from U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Vilsack told St. Louis Public Radio today that moving forward with the immigration reform plan recently passed by the U.S. Senate is key to retaining international talent that comes to this country to study in the plant sciences.

Bill Greenblatt | UPI

U.S. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) says any immigration reform that clears the House will likely be done piece by piece.       

Shimkus echoes Republican leadership who continue to say there’s no way the comprehensive immigration package passed by the Senate will clear the Republican controlled chamber.

“These things can all be handled bit by bit and then you could pull them together later,” Shimkus says.  “But, you won’t see the House passing an overall immigration bill.”

(via Flickr/NathanReed)

Late last month regional leaders launched the St. Louis Mosaic Project, an initiative to make the region the fastest growing metro area for immigrants by 2020.

(Kristi Luther/St. Louis Public Radio)

Just one day before the Fourth of July, St. Louis welcomed more than 50 new United States citizens.

The group took the oath of citizenship during an annual naturalization ceremony in the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis. 

The immigrants came from 26 countries, including Vietnam, Nigeria, Nepal, Albania and Germany.

Congresswoman Ann Wagner of Missouri’s Second District was the guest speaker at the ceremony, which she said was her first.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

 Public officials, activists and religious leaders packed into World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park this afternoon to rally for immigration reform, calling on members of the U.S. House of Representatives to move forward with a plan that cleared the Senate last week.

St. Louis native Vin Ko runs a pick up soccer league in St. Louis that he said brings together everyone from CEO’s to new immigrants.

More than just potential economic benefits, he said the nation needs immigration reform because it’s the right thing to do.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

 Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) cut cake and scooped ice cream during a ceremony to celebrate the volunteers who helped restore and now staff the Amtrak station in downtown Kirkwood.

“We are celebrating the best of this community, which are the kind people who decided this train station is worth saving,” McCaskill said.  “It’s now recognized as one of the best train stations in the country.”

McCaskill also read a letter of thanks from Vice President, and vocal Amtrak supporter, Joe Biden.     

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: WASHINGTON -- Capping months of intense negotiations and debate, the Senate approved a wide-ranging overhaul of the nation's immigration laws on Thursday, including a high-tech "border surge" and long-sought steps to build a pathway to citizenship for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants.