Last year, Frida Arellano came to Arcola, Ill., from Texas with her family to find work in the area’s agricultural fields. The job left her family broke and homeless, she said.
More than 15 years ago, Daneli Rabanalez Hernandez also moved to Arcola, traveling thousands of miles with her family from their original home in Mexico. Now a student at Olivet Nazarene University, Hernandez said central Illinois has become their true home.
CU-CitizenAccess.org has won a national investigative journalism award for its collaborative project with Hoy Chicago looking at changing demographics and racial issues in Central Illinois. Investigative Reporters and Editors, a 4,000 member organization, gave the small multi-platform award to CU-CitizenAccess and Hoy Chicago for the project called Midwest Chronicles. The project took a deep look at the demographic shift across 16 counties in Central Illinois, including stories on racial issues and data analysis of crime statistics. The project included presentations in video, audio, and text on the organizations’ Web sites and a 16 page supplement published in editions of the News-Gazette and Hoy Chicago last fall. CU-CitizenAccess contributors named in the award were Brant Houston, Professor and Knight Chair in Investigative Journalism in the College of Media at the University of Illinois and Pam Dempsey, the CU-CitizenAccess project coordinator.
The C-U Immigration Forum organized a candelight vigil and march in Champaign, Ill. this week to show support for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. On Wednesday, April 10, 2013, over two dozen local organizations and congregations planned to take part in the “Light the Pathway to Citizenship – Don’t Block It” event. This is just one of several events going on across the country, including in the nation’s capital. Here is a look at some recent reports about the national march and the issues surrounding immigration reform.
Our collaborative work with Hoy Chicago in last year’s Midwest Chronicles gained high honors recently. The project took a look at the deep demographic shift in Central Illinois communities. It was a bilingual publication printed in both Spanish and English and distributed in The News-Gazette and throughout Chicago through Hoy Chicago as well as online. Hoy Chicago is a daily Spanish newspaper based in Chicago. Reporters and editors from Hoy Chicago, CU-CitizenAccess.org as well as WILL Public Radio and journalism students from the University of Illinois spent more than six months analyzing data and interviewing residents in communities across a 16-county area.
A delegation of immigration experts from Russia are scheduled to visit Champaign-Urbana this week through the US-Russia Civil Society Partnership Program. They are guests of Chicago Mayor Rahm Immanual and will be visiting a local jail, an immigration detention center and federal and county courts. Their trip to Champaign-Urbana will include a tour of how the Midwest handles the reception, integration and detention of immigrants. As the immigration debate swirls on, here’s a look at what others are saying this week about the issue:
Another side of illegal immigration – LA Times
“Unlike their parents, who generally remain silent and live in fear and shame, young Asians and Pacific Islanders are joining to advocate immigration reform.” In immigration fight, farm visas provide opening – USA Today
“Farmers need more workers to harvest crops but say H2A visas that could help them are tangled in red tape.
By Sean Powers/Illinois Public Media — There are only a handful of places that Urbana resident Marcela Guillen will drive to – the fast-food restaurant where she works, to buy groceries and to take her two children to the doctor. “I would really like to go to other places but I can’t because I don’t have a driver’s license,” Guillen said through an interpreter. Using a bus is problematic because of the time it takes to commute to her job or to the grocery store. Guillen is one of thousands of undocumented residents in the state without a driver’s license, but an effort to amend the Illinois Vehicle Code may change that. The measure, which may come up as early as Tuesday, Nov.
By Pam G. Dempsey/CU-CitizenAccess – For journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, a driver’s license meant working for the Washington Post – a job he really wanted. The license was required. So 10 years ago, Vargas went to Oregon and got one. At the time, Oregon was one of the few states that issued licenses to undocumented residents. That license expired and he later obtained one from Washington State.
By Sean Powers /Illinois Public Media — Angelina Lopez, 47, is a single mother in central Illinois who came into the U.S. illegally 10 years ago. Lopez, who has three grown children, lives in fear because she faces deportation after an arrest in McLean County last year. Lopez is like thousands of Latinos in Illinois who have been stopped by police for traffic violations and turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement(ICE) authorities as a part of a controversial federal program. Nearly the entire country is now enrolled in the program, known as “Secure Communities”. McLeanCounty is not one of the counties, but the sheriff’s office’s willingness to contact immigration officials about non-citizen arrests, and honor the ICE “holds” is easily the equivalent of being in the program.
By Azra Halilovic /CU-CitizenAccess.org / Hoy — Last December, the CU-Immigration Forum held a public meeting at the Champaign Public Library to discuss the county’s implementation of Secure Communities. More than 125 people showed up to talk about and listen to the concerns over the program. “In its one-year implementation in Champaign County, it has been plagued by problems,” Aarón Johnson-Ortíz, a member of the CU-Immigration Forum, told a crowd. The CU-Immigration Forum is a group of community members, students, service providers and labor union representatives working to address issues surrounding immigration in the area. Johnson-Ortíz listed several concerns he and others shared about the federal immigration enforcement program Secure Communities, including the separation of families, using up jail space and tax dollars to house ICE detainees, and encouraging racial profiling.
By Sean Powers/Illinois Public Media — Every year, thousands of migrant workers come to Illinois to detassel corn and harvest crops. Often times they do not make enough money to feed themselves and their families. Language barriers are keeping these farm workers from getting the help they need. Back in the 1980’s, there was a lawsuit filed alleging that Illinois didn’t provide adequate bilingual services to people applying for food stamps. That lawsuit led to a court order known as the Quinones Consent Decree.