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Archive for August, 2012

Surviving Torture: the Super Marios Story

The Kovler Center in Chicago was designed to help victims of torture overcome their turbulent experiences. As part of our year-long series about Latinos in health, reporter Dan Weissman brings us the story of one of the people who received treatment there and the doctor who helped him.

Click here to download this week’s show. Photo courtesy of Hektoen International.

Dan Weissmann is a Chicago-based radio producer and multimedia reporter. His work has appeared regularly on WBEZ (Chicago Public Media, 91.5 FM) and can be found at


The Head Start program is usually aimed at preschoolers. But this summer, the program took three college students who have spent their lives as migrant farmworkers to Washington D.C. for an internship program that aims to open up their career horizons. We speak with the students before they head back to the fields and to school.

Click here to download this week’s show. Visit the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association for more information about their program. To see their intern blog, visit


Sammy Benavidez is a student at St. Edwards University at Austin, Texas, majoring in Social work and minoring in Psychology. In the past, he participated in the Tri-Valley Head-Start program in Grafton, North Dakota, and in TMC Head Start Program in Mercedes, Texas. He hopes to get a Masters in Social Work and also pursue a PhD.

Evangelina Alvarez is from Royal City, Washington. She is currently enrolled at Washington State University, majoring in Business Management and Operations with a minor in Spanish. She hopes to one day own her own business.

Ivon Garcia was born in Puebla, Mexico. She came to the U.S. at age three with her parents who were migrant workers. She graduated from Bridgeport High School and she is currently a Junior at Washington State University, majoring in Human Development and minoring in Women Studies and Spanish.

Cleofas “Cleo” Rodriguez, Jr. is currently the Executive Director of the National Migrant Seasonal Head Start Association in Washington, DC. His parents were migrant farmworkers in Texas and other states. He has been a strong advocate for the emotional development of young children and their families, particularly those of migrant backgrounds.


Mexican-via-LA band Kinky talks to Maria Hinojosa about their inspiration, their blend of dance beats and norteño styles, and their newest album, Sueño de la Máquina.

Find out more information about Kinky ton tour.

Click here to download this week’s show.


Amanda Arizola, who manages Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club, shares the club’s paranormal romance pick for a hot summer read.

Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of Las Comadres Para Las Americas.


Amanda Arizola is the National Project Manager for Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club and she is the author of the Teleconference Series. Amanda holds a MBA/MHSM from Texas Woman’s University and she is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin with a double major in Government and Mexican American Studies. She is a passionate advocate for literarcy and professional development for Latina/os in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

Noticiando: Color TV

Latinos are a growing part of the TV watching audience, but they aren’t tuning in to shows on the networks. Is it the characters? The storylines? How Latino culture is represented on these shows? For insight on the challenge of capturing Latino viewers, we speak to Eric Deggans, television columnist at the Tampa Bay Times.

Click here to download this week’s show.

Eric Deggans began covering music for the Tampa Bay Times in 1995. He started his role as a TV critic in 1997, focusing on the TV industry locally and nationally. In 2004, he joined the Times editorial board until returning to the critic’s corner as media writer in 2005, and as TV critic in 2006.

Crowds of DREAMers – Undocumented Immigrant Youth – Get Legal Counseling as We Ask “What’s Next

Undocumented youth seeking legal advice. (Photo: Aaron Leaf)

The basement of St. Mary’s Church on Manhattan’s Lower East Side resembled a makeshift Department of Motor Vehicles office Wednesday, as undocumented immigrant youth waited in long lines to consult with lawyers about their deferred action applications.

In fact, the DMV is where many of the applicants planned to go once their applications are approved, a driver’s license being one of the perks of finally having legal status.

On the first day that U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services accepted applications for deferred action, 22 year old undocumented immigrant Eduardo Resendiz was among those seeking advice.  He told Fi2W that while he’s happy with the opportunities the program will give him, especially the right to work legally, he’s not “completely satisfied.”

Eduardo Resendiz (Photo: Aaron Leaf)

Resendiz, who immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico, said he will continue to advocate for a solution not just for students but for entire undocumented families.

“Like many undocumented immigrants, I consider this my homeland,” he said, “and I believe only the DREAM Actwill give us the sense that we are truly Americans.

Resendiz pointed out that even if his application is accepted, the rest of his family—living here since 2005—will remain undocumented including his 14-year-old sister and his parents who, as he put it, “continue to live in the shadows”

Sara Martinez, who came to the U.S. from Mexico as a baby, is planning to apply for deferred action but hasn’t managed to get documents together that prove she has been living here for five consecutive years. She has been organizing workshops across New York city as part of theNew York State Youth Leadership Council and is busy strategizing with other activists ways to keep the momentum going.

Sara Martinez (Photo: Aaron Leaf)

“Deferred action is not the same as the DREAM Act. We have to educate our communities about the risk involved in signing that application,” she said. Martinez sees deferred action as just a step toward passing the federal DREAM Act and also a New York state DREAM Act that would make undocumented students eligible for student loans.

Organized by the New York Immigration Coalition, the legal clinic at St. Mary’s had dozens of volunteer attorneys sitting in long rows meeting with applicants and going through their forms and documents.

Jacki Esposito, the director of immigration advocacy with the NYIC, is one of the organizers of the clinics. Although currently she is concentrating on helping people through the deferred action process, she thinks the next step is clear.

Deferred action, said Esposito, is a major victory that “builds momentum and mobilizes immigrant youth in a new way.” But it’s bittersweet: “Many DREAMer’s parents still live in fear.”

According to Esposito, the next phase will be to activate all the new members of the DREAM Act movement, youth who’ve become politically active for the first time through this process and feel empowered to take the change even further.

“It’s no question that the president’s announcement was a response to two years of advocacy,” said Esposito. “They know how hard they worked,” she said referring to the DREAMers, “and they won.”

New York wasn’t the only place where legal clinics were drawing crowds. A deferred action workshop in Chicago expected to help 1,500 undocumented youth with their applications ended up drawing an estimated crowd of 50,000. Many were turned away.

US Senator Dick Durbin, one of the original authors of the DREAM Act, was one of the hosts of the event. When Fi2W asked for his opinion on what should happen next, his staff pointed us to a speech he gave last month to the Center for American Progress.

Durbin believes that deferred action, far from being a permanent solution, is an important step toward, as he puts it, “sensible immigration reform.” He said deferred action “will forever change the debate.” His theory is that as the American public interacts with many of the beneficiaries of the program, they will see the contributions they’re making and be open to greater reform.

Feet in 2 Worlds is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund. 

Aaron Leaf is a freelance writer and editor who has reported on human rights issues from Zambia, Liberia, Canada and Peru. He is a graduate of Ryerson University and the former editor of Ricepaper, a journal of Asian Canadian arts and culture.

Gearing Up for Deferred Action

Beginning Wednesday, as many as 1.76 million young undocumented immigrants can apply for the reprieve President Obama announced in June, a program the government calls “deferred action for childhood arrivals.” Those who qualify will be considered on a case-by-case basis and, if approved, will be able to apply to stay and work in this country legally for up to two years. The application will cost $465 and require several background checks along with extensive financial, medical, education, and other records.

Requests for deferred action will be processed if the applicant is an unauthorized immigrant under the age of 31; came to the United States before her 16th birthday; has continuously resided in the country for five years; is currently in school, has graduated from high school or received GED equivalency, or is an honorably discharged veteran; has not been convicted of a felony or a significant misdemeanor; and is determined not to be a threat to national security or public safety.

Additional details will be released on Wednesday. In the meantime, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has provided a hotline and answers to frequently asked questions on its website.

Many young immigrants welcome the opportunity to come out of the shadows and work or go to college.

Claudia Jimenez, a 19 year old Venezuelan native who has been in the U.S. since she was eight years old, shared her enthusiasm with the New York Times. Since graduating from high school last year, she has not been able to work or attend college. “Now I have something,” she said. “I can actually do something with my life. Before it was like my life was on pause.”

But others are wary. Time magazine features Karla Zapata who, while ecstatic over the prospect of getting a work permit, expressed her fears.

After years of living in the shadows, Zapata and her friends aren’t convinced it’s a good idea to give their personal information to the government when there are no guarantees that President Obama’s new program for young immigrants will last and no promise they’ll be accepted into it in the first place. Some see that ambiguity as an invitation for possible deportation.

Groups have rallied to support young immigrants like Jimenez and Zapata who hope to begin the process of legalizing their status (the program is not an amnesty and does not provide a path to citizenship).

The New York Daily News reports:

United We Dream, a network of youth-led organizations across the country, launched a national campaign with its partners last week, to offer assistance to as many of the hundreds of thousands of Dreamers eligible to take advantage of the program … The campaign, titled We Own the DREAM/¡Unete Al Sueño!, hopes to guarantee that there is a national and local infrastructure to support Dreamers who are eligible for this opportunity to remain in the United States to complete their education and contribute to the economy.

Key partners in this infrastructure include the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), Immigration Advocates Network (IAN), and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG-NIP).

Young people who apply for deferred action will need all the help they can get to navigate what’s likely to be a cumbersome and confusing process. Since the president’s announcement, immigrant advocates have warned about unscrupulous attorneys, notarios(public notaries) and “immigration consultants” who are out to fleece desperate immigrants and their families.

At the end of the day the deferred action program is only a temporary reprieve. Only comprehensive immigration reform through legislation will once and for all address the issue of unauthorized immigration as well as other shortcomings of our immigration system.

As November fast approaches, it is crucial to know where the presidential candidates stand on all of this. We know that President Obama supports DREAMers. What about Governor Romney?

In reaction to the administration’s June announcement, he said “I think the action that the president took today makes it more difficult to reach that long-term solution because an executive order of course is just a short-term matter … It could be reversed by subsequent presidents.” He may have been referring to himself after infamously declaring during the Republican primaries that he thought the DREAM Act is a mistake and he would veto it.

You can follow Erwin de Leon on Twitter or read his blog. Image courtesy of flickr

Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund.

Erwin de Leon is a Policy Researcher and writer based in Washington, DC. He writes on immigration, LGBT, and nonprofit issues. You can follow him on Twitter at @ErwindeLeon.

Romney-Ryan Ticket Bad for Immigrants

by Erwin de Leon

Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s chosen running mate, shares a hardline stance on immigration with the former Massachusetts governor. A Romney-Ryan administration would not be as friendly to immigrants as the current occupant of the White House.

On his Congressional website, the Republican vice presidential candidate promises to continue advocating for “common sense reforms to our broken [immigration] system.” His notion of reform focuses on strict border control and law enforcement, even though our borders are more secure than ever, immigration from Mexico has slowed down, and the Obama administration has deported a record number of unauthorized immigrants. He hedges on the DREAM Act, stating that he “understands the points DREAM ACT supporters have raised,” but the stark fact is that he voted against it in 2010., a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization which provides information on candidates, gives a good indication where Ryan stands on immigration. In 2006, he voted in favor or building a fence along the Mexican border and on preventing tipping off Mexicans about the Minuteman Project.

We will certainly learn more in the coming days where the Wisconsin congressman stands on immigration and other issues that matter to voters. But make no mistake: Romney picked Ryan because of pressure from conservatives. The GOP ticket now solidly sits on the far right on nearly all issues. In short, Romney and Ryan in the White House would be bad news not only for immigrants, but for seniors, women, LGBTs, and middle class Americans as well.

You can follow Erwin de Leon on Twitter or read his blog.


Fi2W is supported by the New York Community Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation with additional support from the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation and the Sirus Fund.

Infiltrating Broward

For most people who are undocumented, being detained by immigration officials is probably their biggest fear. But that’s not the case for a young group of undocumented activists who infiltrated a Florida detention center to find low priority detainees, one year since the ICE memo calling for prosecutorial discretion.

Some of the audio in this piece was provided by Alex Rivera who has been working on a documentary following the activists.

Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of Flickr.



Car Wash Wage Theft

Big city carwash workers often work long hours for little pay with few protections from chemicals.  State prosecutors are now investigating and punishing abusive employers, and a new campaign by community organizations is encouraging workers to demand respect for their rights.

Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of Wash New York.

Andrés Caballero has been an active contributor to Latino USA for more than a year. He holds a M.S. in Journalism from the Columbia University School of Journalism, and a B.S. in Political Science from Notre Dame De Namur University. He covers issues that affect Latinos across the U.S., and he has also contributed to New America Media, the Hispanic Link News Service in Washington D.C., and El Tecolote in San Francisco.

The Miseducation of Ana Tijoux

French-Chilean rapper Ana Tijoux talks to Latino USA producer Nadia Reiman about how politics and books have influenced her music, and about what she wants to contribute to the South American hip hop music scene.

Click here to download this week’s show. See below for Ana Tijoux’s video, “Shock,” for Puente Arizona.

Nadia Reiman has been a radio producer since 2005. Before joining the Latino USA team, Nadia produced for StoryCorps for almost five years, and her work there on 9/11 stories earned her a Peabody. She has also mixed audio for animations, assisted on podcasts for magazines, and program managed translations for Canon Latin America. Nadia has also produced for on None on Record editing and mixing stories of queer Africans, and worked on a Spanish language radio show called Epicentro based out of Washington DC. She graduated from Kenyon College with a double major in International Studies and Spanish Literature.

The East Harlem Loiza Festival

A festival for Santiago Apostol de Loiza, the Puerto Rican saint who fought to expel the moors from Spain, has been celebrated in East Harlem, New York, for 30 years. We bring you the sounds of the festival in a new segment called Tu Barrio.

Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute.


The Olympics are coming to a close, and the political season is heating up. In both topics there are stories of interest to Latinos that have been under covered. We check in on these topics with Victor Landa, editor of the site News Taco.

NewsTaco provides innovative and insightful news, critique, analysis and opinion from a Latino perspective in a 24-hour world.

Click here to download this week’s show.

Victor Landa is the founder and editor of NewsTaco, a website that provides news, analysis and critique from a Latino perspective. He worked as a writer and editor for 30 years, mostly with Telemundo and Univisión. Landa also contributed to the San Antonio Express-News, and he is an adviser on media strategy, message crafting, storytelling and public speaking.

Latinos And The Obesity Epidemic

Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable deaths in the US after cigarette smoking. Latinos are especially hard hit, developing diabetes and other obesity related health problems at high rates. Reporter Nova Safo visits the predominantly Latino city of Santa Ana, California to see how biology, economics and environment all contribute to the problem.

Click here to download this week’s show.

Nova Safo is a Los Angeles-based reporter who covers a wide variety of topics ranging from the Hollywood entertainment industry, to visual arts, culture, politics, policy, health, science, the future of energy, economics, and the occasional massive wildfire.
His reporting has been heard on NPR’s various newsmagazines and other public radio programs, and published online by Yahoo! News and others. He is the recipient of Hearst journalism awards for radio reporting, as well as an NLGJA/RTNDA award for excellence in online journalism.

Does Fixing Food Deserts Help Fix Obesity?

A number of cities have taken up programs to put more fresh foods into corner stores to improve so-called “food deserts.” Nevin Cohen, an assistant professor at the New School in New York, shares his thoughts on whether having more fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income neighborhoods really affects obesity rates–or if the problem goes beyond access to certain foods.

Click here to download this week’s show. Image courtesy of Inhabitat New York City.

Nevin Cohen is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at The New School,where he teaches courses in urban food systems and environmental studies, including cross-disciplinary courses that connect the fields of policy, urban planning, design, and urban studies. Dr. Cohen’s current research focuses on the development of urban food policy. He has a PhD in Urban Planning from Rutgers University, a Masters in City and Regional Planning from Berkeley, and a BA from Cornell.


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