immigration

The YWCA has been involved in social justice issues for about 150 years, but many people still don’t know the organization’s mission, CEO Dara Richardson-Heron said.

“At the YWCA, we know that we cannot rest until racial, social and gender justice become a reality,” she told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Tuesday.

Mark Parkinson, r St. Charles 2014
Official state photo

Legislation introduced earlier this week would require businesses to certify their employees' resident status using the federal electronic verification system. Supporters of the bill hope it will discourage illegal immigration.

Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis is a city built on immigration – from the early French settlers, to the Germans and Irish in the 1800s, to the more modern immigration of Bosnians and Southeast Asians.

While there have been numerous waves of immigration into St. Louis, the welcome extended by existing religious groups to new immigrants has remained fairly consistent throughout St. Louis' 250 year history.

Providing Resources

Emanuele Berry/St. Louis Public Radio

Tigrinya, Nepali, Somali, Arabic, Vietnamese: These are just some of the languages that clashed as translators relayed information about becoming a U.S. citizens to more than 100 lawful permanent residents. Many of those in attendance at the St. Louis International Institute event were refugees.

The information session covered requirements for becoming a citizen, the application process, classes available at the International Institute to help prepare for the citizenship interview, medical waiver information and success stories.

welcometoUSA.gov

President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration could impact foreign-born entrepreneurs looking to invest in St. Louis.

At a panel discussion Wednesday, legal experts addressed the potential benefits of the executive order and current visa options for foreign investors. The event was part of the Advance St. Louis Seminar Series, a collaboration between the Center for Emerging Technologies and the Polsinelli law firm.

Akif Cogo
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis region’s Bosnian community long has been touted as the largest in the world outside of Bosnia itself.

But, as some local activists add ruefully, their numbers have yet to translate into political clout.

“We definitely have that sense of being ignored,’’ said Akif Cogo, founder of St. Louis Bosnians Inc., a nonprofit organization advocating for the tens of thousands of Bosnian-Americans who now call St. Louis home.

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.

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