immigration

Alan Gomez / USA TODAY

Garden City is in national news.  A reporter from USA Today came to the southwestern Kansas community talking with residents about the impact President Obama’s immigration plan would have.  Some said it would allow undocumented immigrants live without the worry of being picked up by immigration officers.  Some worry there will be an exodus as they look for better jobs in other parts of the country. 

Kansas Department of Revenue

President Obama’s executive action to expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program could lead to some unauthorized immigrants having the necessary identification to obtain a Kansas driver’s license.

The size of the unauthorized immigrant population in Colorado and Kansas fell between 2009 and 2012 and stayed the same in Texas and Oklahoma, according to an updated tracking report from the Pew Center for Research. 

texastribune.org

Two-thirds of registered Texas voters have a favorable opinion of the state’s voter photo ID law, and more than half have a “very favorable” view, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

In a dimly-lit lab on the Des Moines, Iowa, public schools’ agricultural science campus, students in aprons, safety goggles and plastic gloves poke and probe chicken wings. About 15 girls and just one boy in this vet careers class are looking for ligaments, tendons, cartilage and other features of this animal part that teenagers more often experience cooked and covered in barbecue sauce.

A 17-year old senior, with her hair pulled back in a ponytail for the dissection, high-fives her lab partner when they identify the ligament and show it to their teacher. This young woman is a chapter officer in the Des Moines FFA group and recently got elected to a district-wide leadership position. She’s already earned a full scholarship to Iowa State University and aspires to be a large animal veterinarian with her own small cattle herd.

Amy Mayer/Harvest Public Media

Bear Creek Dairy in Brooklyn, Iowa, is home to more than 1,100 cows, who provide about 100,000 pounds of milk each day. The 15-year-old farmer who works closely with the farm’s calves comes from a long line of dairymen – in Europe.

Five years ago, Teun Boelen’s parents sold their farm in the Netherlands and bought a dairy in southeast Iowa because, as his mother explains it, there was no room for their old farm to grow.  

dodgeglobe.com

Vanessa Melendez was six years old when she arrived in the United States.  She doesn’t remember much about her life before in Mexico.  The Dodge City resident does remember being a teenager and discovering she was in the U.S. illegally when she applied for her first job according to a recent article from the Dodge City Daily Globe.

jcpost.com

State Rep. Allan Rothlisberg, R-Grandview Plaza recently filed a bill requiring the state to count and report how many undocumented children are in Kansas public schools reported the Lawrence Journal-World.  

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Not yet 9 a.m. on a warm fall day, freshmen Binh Hua and My Nguyen are in protective goggles, long hair pulled back, ready for their chemistry class in a Garden City Community College lab.

The teacher calls the class to order, calling the students “Busters,” short for “Broncbusters,” the college’s mascot and a reminder of this old West town’s history of raising cattle.

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

GARDEN CITY, Kan. — Sister Janice Thome’s office is a 2003 brown Ford Focus with a backseat piled high with paperwork and a prayer book.

Thome puts 125,000 miles a year on this car, picking up boxes from the food pantry, finding a mattress for a newcomer, delivering a sick soul to a doctor’s appointment. All the while, she fields emergency calls on her flip phone, responding to her mission to serve the poor of Garden City, out on the plains of southwest Kansas.

This day, Thome is teaching her teen parenting class at the alternative high school.

Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

NOEL, MO - It’s almost 9 a.m., and Noel Primary School teacher Erin McPherson is helping a group of Spanish-speaking students complete English language exercises. But it’s tough going.

One student in a bright blue T-shirt – 9-year-old Isac Martinez – has not yet picked up his pencil. He’s clearly sick. When McPherson asks him what’s wrong, Isac’s small voice is barely audible in between coughs. He says he threw up four times last night but did not go to a doctor.

CBP Photography

Texas has one of the largest populations of “unauthorized” immigrants in the nation, and it is the only state that didn’t have a significant drop as did California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York according to data Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project. 

Peggy Lowe/Harvest Public Media

Harvest Public Media reporter Peggy Lowe has been visiting Garden City working on a series of stories profiling “meat packing towns” and their economic, social and cultural life and challenges.  Fittingly, one of her first contacts was Sister Janice Thome who provided a ground-level orientation to the community.  Here is Peggy’s first field note featuring Sister Janice.

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The billboards that dot the long gray line of Interstate 70 west from Kansas City tried to lure me to tourist towns that promised Wild West shows, lots of sunflowers and even an Oz Winery.

215mag.com

Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the population in Kansas. Nationally their voting influence is being felt, as reported by the Wichita Eagle.  However, only 37% of the Hispanic population in Kansas were eligible to vote in 2012 compared to 77% of the state’s white population, according to a complete profile of eligible Hispanic voters in Kansas prepared by Pew Research.

Immigration Reform: Up Close and Personal in SW Kansas

Aug 12, 2013
Fernando Salaza / The Wichita Eagle

People value hard work in SW Kansas.  In an area where the unemployment rate is significantly below the national average, workers are needed.  The Wichita Eagle gave a glimpse into the struggles of being an immigrant.   

Artist: J. Keppler / Michigan State University Museum, Appel Collection

Two traveling exhibits, one featuring personal stories of Kanas’ immigration history and the other the role of caricature and stereotype in forming American values and attitudes about immigration, are now on exhibit at the Stauth Memorial Museum in Montezuma KS.  As part of the exhibition, a presentation and discussion on “Ethnic Labor and Small Towns on the Rock Island Rail Line” will be led by M.J.

wikimedia.org

Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, New York, and Miami are no longer the immigration points for Hispanics and Latinos coming to the United States.  Kansas State University recently reported new patterns have developed.  Matthew Sanderson, associate professor of sociology at Kansas State University, is studying why rural areas, particularly southwest Kansas, have experienced large increases in Hispanic immigration. 

Refugees find home on the farm

Jun 6, 2013
Amy Mayer, Harvest Public Media

On a small farm in suburban West Des Moines, Iowa, even the barn is a refugee—an historic structure relocated from nearby Valley High School. The farmers, most of them refugees, are just starting to hoe the land, each one working a 50-foot by 50-foot plot where they’ll grow corn, beans, cabbage, eggplant, onions, tomatoes and peppers.

An unlikely coalition of business and social interests tried last year to get the legislature to establish a state program that would help ag businesses hire undocumented workers and let them legally stay in the state. Conservative lightning rod Grover Norquist – more known for his anti-tax crusades than his immigration beliefs – endorsed the plan during a speech in Topeka this week. He likened current U-S immigration law to the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit enacted in the 70s. Norquist says most people broke that law, too.

Garden City has prospered by the labor, customs, and culture of hardworking immigrants from Old Mexico.