Square dancer, paralegal, student, taxi driver: Immigrant stories across America


Individual stories bring reality home in a way that statistics cannot: Leezia Dhalla, a Canadian-born “dreamer,” square dancer, press manager, and Texan; Harminder Saini, for whom “America is the plan;” Luz Bolanos, a paralegal in Fort Worth; Emmanuel Makender, a refugee in Michigan. Their stories—and more in today’s news.

I’m a ‘dreamer.’ I might only have weeks left in the country I love. (Washington Post, 3/5/18)

“I grew up an American. I went to school in San Antonio. I was a Girl Scout. I volunteered in my community, helping to feed the homeless and raising money to help fund the bone marrow transplant of a boy I’d never met. I worked the cash register at my local grocery store and spent years fine-tuning my square-dancing skills, a testament to my Texas roots. This is my home, and even though I’m devastated at the prospect of being evicted from the only country I know, I realize that I’m fortunate. There are tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dreamers who weren’t eligible for DACA under the Obama administration’s rules because they were either too young or too old to apply. They, too, are left behind by this court decision: Young people like Rosa Maria Hernandez, a 10-year-old with cerebral palsy who came to the U.S. as a baby and was too young to apply. Customs and Border Patrol agents stopped her ambulance at an immigration checkpoint while it was carrying her to emergency surgery. Dreamers like Jorge Garcia of Lincoln Park, Mich., married to a U.S. citizen and the father of two U.S. citizen children, who came here as a 10-year-old. He was deported in January — three decades later.” 

Deadline puts pressure on ‘Dreamers’ who seek to serve in U.S. military (Stars and Stripes, 3/4/18) 24-year-old Harminder Saini was born in India, but grew up in the United States, and didn’t learn he was undocumented until after high school. When DACA came along, he signed up, and then he enlisted in the U.S. military. Now he is one of more than 300 DACA recipients waiting to hear whether he will be allowed to serve—or deported.

“He tries not to think about what could happen if it doesn’t work out. He has no backup plan, he said.

“All these negative thoughts don’t go anywhere,” Saini said. “America is the plan. It’s always been the plan.” 

DACA—and Fort Worth woman’s dreams—remain in limbo as Trump’s deadline passes (Fort Worth, Star-Telegram, 3/5/18)

“Just being able to get a driver’s license made a world of a difference.

“I wasn’t scared anymore,” Bolanos said. “I was able to identify myself to the public. I grew up here in Texas and I was finally able to have a Texas ID.”

Then came the bad news. Last Sept. 5, Bolanos was studying in a cafeteria at UT Arlington. She listened as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the end of DACA.

“Bolanos broke down in tears.

“It made me feel like everything I had worked for was pointless. It didn’t mean anything to these people. I work really hard and I don’t think that should be taken away from me.” 

Harvard TPS workers at risk (Harvard Magazine, 2/27/18)

“Reina-Landaverde, who has three daughters and whose husband is not Salvadoran, said she doesn’t know what her family would do if her TPS is revoked: “It’s a difficult decision to go to my country, because we know over there it’s violent and dangerous.” El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, and may be destabilized further by the sudden arrival of tens of thousands of deportees.” 

A lesson in American greatness (The Economist, 3/1/18)

“[18 years ago, Emmanuel Makender was] a destitute war orphan living in a fly-blown refugee camp in northern Kenya. A fugitive from the war in Sudan, which had claimed an estimated 2m lives, including most of Mr Makender’s immediate family, he had fled his village six years earlier, after soldiers attacked it one night. They killed his father, three of his siblings and, he thought, his mother, leaving him, aged around 12, terrified and alone in the dark.”


“A 35-year-old taxi driver in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mr Makender has a comfortable four-bedroom house and two cars outside it. He earns $40,000 a year, the average family income in Grand Rapids, which means his pregnant wife need not work. Yet when congratulated on his achievements, he says he hopes “to be successful one day”. …

America’s refugee policies, writes The Economist’s Lexington, “reflected the values and self-confidence of a country founded by fugitives, which, over the ensuing four centuries, has been relentlessly successful at turning them into productive citizens. Those traditional strengths no longer apply, however. Because refugee policy is one of the few bits of the immigration system President Donald Trump controls, he has ravaged it.” 

El Salvador’s gangs are targeting young girls (The Atlantic, 3/4/18)

While a majority of El Salvador’s homicide victims are young men from poor urban areas, the gangs’ practice of explicitly targeting girls for sexual violence or coerced relationships is well known. Since 2000, the homicide rate for young women in El Salvador has also increased sharply, according to the latest data from the World Health Organization. To refuse the gangs’ demands can mean death for girls and their families.

“These conditions leave them with few options but to flee their country.” 

Dreamers face disruptions, even after court orders (Politico, 3/5/18)

“The problem arises chiefly from the Department of Homeland Security’s refusal to prioritize those DACA renewals due to expire soonest. Instead, the applications are being processed in the order in which they were filed. Consequently, many so-called Dreamers who’ve applied to renew will see their DACA protections expire before DHS acts, increasing their risk of being fired from their jobs or, possibly, being arrested and deported.” https://www.politico.com/story/2018/03/05/dreamers-disruption-immigration-court-orders-385096DACA Quick Facts

DACA Quick Facts (ILCM, 3/6/18) Quick take on DACA facts, such as:

“According to the Migration Policy Institute, a total of 16,000 Minnesotans may be eligible for DACA protections.

“The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy estimates that DACA recipients in Minnesota contribute $15 million in state and local taxes. This number would jump to $19 million if DACA recipients were granted a pathway to citizenship.

“Research from the Center for American Progress estimates that ending the DACA program would cost Minnesota an estimated $377 million in annual GDP.”

Judge declines, for now, to halt part of Trump’s anti-sanctuary city policy (Politico, 3/5/18)  

“A federal judge has turned down a request from the state of California to put an immediate stop to enforcement of a key part of the Trump administration policy aimed at punishing so-called sanctuary cities and other jurisdictions seeking to protect undocumented immigrants.

“U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick did not rule out eventually deciding the case in the state’s favor and, at times in the 28-page opinion he issued Monday, he sounded sympathetic to many of the state’s arguments about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ stated plans to enforce a 1996 law aimed at requiring local and state officials to cooperate with requests for information about the citizenship and immigration status of individuals they encounter.” 


About Mary Turck

News Day, written by Mary Turck, analyzes, summarizes, links to, and comments on reports from news media around the world, with particular attention to immigration, education, and journalism. Fragments, also written by Mary Turck, has fiction, poetry and some creative non-fiction. Mary Turck edited TC Daily Planet, www.tcdailyplanet.net, from 2007-2014, and edited the award-winning Connection to the Americas and AMERICAS.ORG, in its pre-2008 version. She is also a recovering attorney and the author of many books for young people (and a few for adults), mostly focusing on historical and social issues.
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