Haitian Sexual Politics Nov. 2 QUEERtalks Topic

Erin Durban-Albrecht will present “Religious Sexual Politics in Haiti: Vodou, Catholicism, and Protestantism” at 12:30 p.m., Thursday, November 2, at the LGBT/Queer Studies and Services Institute.

An assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Durban-Albrecht’s book manuscript, “The Sexual Politics of Empire: An Ethnography of Postcolonial Homophobia in Haiti,” was awarded the National Women’s Studies Association–UIP First Book Prize in 2015 and will be published by University of Illinois Press. A former faculty member at Illinois State, Durban-Albrecht recently co-edited a special issue of Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory titled “Nou Mach Ansanm (We Walk Together): Queer Haitian Performance and Affiliation.”

The fall series of QUEERtalks at Illinois State University focuses on new scholarship in the interdisciplinary field of LGBTQA/queer studies, with speakers presenting innovative work.

Take a look at other events celebrating Queertober.

This year’s co-sponsors of QUEERtalks are Illinois State’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program, the LGBT/Queer Studies and Services Institute, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Department of Philosophy, Department of English, Department of History, Department of Politics and Government, Latin American and Latino/a Studies, Pride, and The League of Extraordinary Genders (TLEG).

For additional information, contact the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at (309) 438-2947.

Unit 5 Teachers Seek Welcome Declaration

Baylee Steelman


Teachers from Unit 5’s high schools are asking the school board to declare the district a welcoming environment for immigrant students and teachers.

Normal West teacher John Bierbaum, Normal Community teacher Patrick Lawler and NCHS freshman Aditi Sharma spoke to the school board Wednesday evening about passing a measure to declare Unit 5 schools safe learning environments for students regardless of their immigration status.

Bierbaum said feelings of safety are taken for granted by students who aren't immigrants or have immigrant parents.

"I assure you my conversations with faculty members, different colleagues and students ... they don't take it for granted," said Bierbaum. "It impacts them every single day, and they know where to go to for safety and they are measuring that every single day of their life."

Bierbaum said teachers in the district are here to educate students no matter who they are or where they come from. Sharma told the school board that students have diverse religions and ethnicities. She said no one should feel unsafe going to school.

"I'm an immigrant myself, and I came here from India," said Sharma. "I look forward to school because it's a place where I can learn and also have fun with my friends. I want everyone to (like) school like I do and not be scared because of their immigration status."

Board member David Fortner prepared a speech for the meeting. He said educators have a duty to bring wisdom to their communities.

"Let's love these children regardless of who they are, where they're from, or any perceived wrongs or mistakes their parents might have made. Let's love these children,” he said.

Board member Meta Mickens-Baker praised the resolution. She said students and faculty are working to build a culture of inclusion.

The effort to emphasize the district as a safe welcoming learning space for immigrants comes amid national controversy over immigration policy. District 87 schools implemented a similar measure a month ago.

The Unit 5 school board reviewed a draft version of the resolution Wednesday. It will return to the board for formal action next month.

Chef Sees Cultural Education as Part of the Job


Frequently, the way to cultural understanding is through our stomachs. Breaking bread with strangers often breaks down barriers -- it’s often harder to hate if you just ate.

Jake Bolender, a Twin Cities native and head chef at Bloomington’s Reality Bites, sees culinary cultural education as “part of our jobs as chefs.” The downtown tapas restaurant and bar offers a daily sprinkling of global fare, and Bolender’s crew will create an international spread for BCAI School of Arts’ Nov. 4 Mix.Fuze.Evolve 2 fundraiser, co-sponsored by Not In Our Town: Bloomington-Normal’s Not In Our Schools.

“From what I’ve experienced, I think we’re lacking in terms of being familiar with different cultures, especially when it comes to food,” Bolender suggests. “I think people are afraid to try new things. They’re afraid of new things, different cultures, whether it be food or introducing themselves to people or going to an Asian grocery store. I think change is scary for a lot of people.”

Mix.Fuze.Evolve will showcase culturally-infused live stage entertainment and music with a dance floor, a “culturally diverse” cash bar with 14 alcoholic and non-alcoholic options, a Coffeehound coffee bar highlighting blends from various cultures, and 12 culinary meals from six different cultures. The event, from 7 to 10 p.m., will include multiple raffles, with profits funding BCAI-supported scholarships.

Tickets are $55 per person 21 or older, or $60 at the door. Tickets are available at Reality Bites, Coffeehound, or Signature India, or online at http://breakingchains116.wixsite.com/mfe2. In conjunction with the event, BCAI is holding a youth event for every age, infant to teenager, from 5:30 to 11 p.m. at Illinois Wesleyan University, free for MFE2 ticketholders. Non-MFE parents also are welcome to register youth at a $25 per-child cost.

The Saturday menu includes akara & rice, ata dindin, tikka masala chicken, garbanzo & potato curry, black beans & rice, tacos, berry pudding, baked pumpkin, hummus, lamb & toasted nuts, ayam goreng, pork & vegetables spring rolls, baklava, fried thai bananas, and tres leches cake. That may seem like a headscratcher to some meat-and-potatoes Midwesterners, but Bolender emphasizes that “just because (dishes) come from a different culture doesn’t mean all people can’t enjoy them.”

BCAI Director Angelique Racki supplied a list of the Indian, African, Hispanic, Asian, and Indigenous American cuisines to be represented at the fundraiser. “Then, we just started doing our homework, digging in to different dishes from those cultures – some of which we were familiar with, some of which we were not,” Bolender relates. “It was really fun for us to kind of dig into some things we hadn’t cooked before – even recipes we hadn’t tried before. We were really excited about it. We wanted to be authentic. We wanted these dishes to be prepared in the way they’re traditionally prepared.”

His restaurant had offered a few of the dishes on the Nov. 4 menu on weekends, and he suggests some of the “big hits” among the new creations will make it onto his team’s new November menu. Bolender, his sous-chef Amy Deranian, and other crew members have their own cultural specialties, from Asian to traditional French.

“Mom did a lot of cooking growing up,” and Bolender was raised on a sturdy Heartland diet of chicken and noodles, mashed potatoes, kielbasa sausage, mac-and-cheese, and Sunday pot roast. He began bussing tables at 15, and “immediately fell in love with the restaurant industry.” Bolender, now 31, graduated to “the front of the house” and, eight years ago, into the kitchen. His pre-Reality Bites credits included prepping sushi and pizza and learning from nationally respected chefs at the former Station 220 (now Epiphany Farms) and helping launch Bloomington’s Two Blokes And A Bus food truck.

Bolender’s own favorite international dish is “straight-up tacos,” preferably with lengua (tongue), chorizo sausage, or tripa (small intestines). Reality Bite’s MFE2 spread will include a full taco bar featuring a range of toppings and sauces.

Reality Bites’ servers are trained to help diners understand new and potentially daunting dishes. In a few cases, Bolender has made accommodations for the uninitiated: He promotes ayam goreng, a curry-marinated poultry dish, as Indonesian fried chicken.

“Most people like fried chicken,” he smiles. “Most of the times, it’s a matter of stepping outside the boundaries when it comes to food – trying something you haven’t tried before.”

Cultural Immersion Preps ISU Senior For PR Career

Deja Whitt, a senior public relations major, declared the Latin American and Latino/a Studies (LALS) minor just this year, but her enthusiasm for the program began much earlier.

Since leaving her hometown of Calumet Park, a south suburb of Chicago, in 2014 to begin her college career, Whitt has taken a variety of courses in LALS, attended countless program events hosted by LALS, and served as a teaching assistant for two courses in the minor. Outside of the minor, Whitt dedicates her time to her membership in Illinois State University’s Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, two jobs through the Alumni Center, and internship with Motivate Moms, LLC. Despite her busy schedule, Whitt was able to share her experience in the minor with us this month as our first Student Spotlight of the semester. Check out our interview to learn about her experience in the minor and why she wants you to join!

Latin American and Latino/a Studies: Tell me about yourself! What do you like to do?

Deja Whitt: I’m a proud part-time pet mom to my shih-tzu Stewart, annoying big sister, and movie buff! When I’m not working or in class you can probably find me watching Empire, re-reading Harry Potter or cooking. I’m also a member of the Illinois State University’s Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Last year I served on the executive board, but this year I’m dedicating most of my time on campus to my two jobs at the Alumni Center! I work at the Telefund Calling Center as a fundraiser and at University Marketing and Communications as a communications assistant.

LALS: Before declaring a minor in Latin American and Latino/a Studies, you studied Spanish. Tell me about this experience. In what ways has declaring a Latin American and Latino/a Studies minor complimented your study of Spanish? Would you recommend this plan of study to other students? If yes, why?

DW: To fulfill some requirements for the Latin American and Latino/a Studies minor I took quite a few Spanish classes. I’ve studied the language since high school and it has definitely helped my understanding of a lot of the themes and concepts we learn about in the minor’s coursework. In Spanish classes here at Illinois State you don’t just learn the language, you study the people, their culture, the socio-economic challenges they face and so much more. You totally don’t need to speak Spanish to be a part of the minor, but as a non-Latinx, it helped deepen my understanding of the people I was learning about and that’s something that’s important to me.

LALS: What has been your favorite course you have taken for the Latin American and Latino/a Studies minor so far? Why was it your favorite? What did you learn?

DW: This is a tough question! I’ve loved all of the courses I’ve taken so far and I’ve learned so much during my time in the minor. If I had to choose though, Dr. Toro-Morn’s Introduction to Latin American and Latino Studies course was the class that gave me the foundation to take other classes in the minor. You get the chance to really study the U.S. Latinx population from a variety of angles. The concepts that I learned veered outside of what you expect from a traditional introductory course. The course touches on some really relevant and vital material. It counts for general education credit as well, so I definitely recommend it to everyone!

LALS: You have been a teaching assistant for Introduction to Latin American and Latino/a Studies (SOC 109) and History of Latin America (HIS 104A03), two core courses of the Latin American and Latino/a Studies minor. What did you learn from these experiences?

DW: Being a teaching assistant is one of my favorite ISU memories! I got the chance to work under both Dr. Toro-Morn and Dr. Cutter and I couldn’t have asked for two better mentors. You learn a ton being a teaching assistant— responsibility, time management, and how to communicate effectively with large audiences. Most importantly, it taught me to be an advocate for myself and to take charge of my learning. I think as college students we really underestimate how much we can learn from each other and our professors. You could be one class, conversation or conversation away from a achieving a goal— all it takes is your voice and a little courage.

LALS: Tell me about your current internship. What do you do and where? In what ways has Illinois State University, Spanish and Latin American and Latino/a Studies minors prepared you for this experience?

DW: I’m the Digital Media intern for Motivate Moms LLC. Our goal is to teach parents that by empowering themselves, they empower their children too. We step into the community and create programs that engage parents with each other, and with their children’s educational experience. Outside of technical skills like writing, my studies here, especially within the minor, have taught me how to truly connect with others. It has also taught me how to find common ground to solve problems to meet a goal that we share— and that’s exactly what we do at Motivate Moms.

LALS: What would you tell a student considering declaring the Latin American and Latino/a Studies minor?


LALS: What are your goals after graduation?

DW: I’m pursuing jobs with an emphasis on servicing communities and I’m hoping to do that through either agency or nonprofit public relations. My ultimate goal though is to start my own freelance public relations business. I’m really passionate about helping smaller businesses and companies—I like the intimacy of getting to work with clients one-on-one and help them achieve their dreams through their business.

Director/Writer Visits Normal to Celebrate 'Nollywood' Success Story

Director, writer, and producer Femi Odugbemi will travel to Normal to help celebrate the booming Nigerian film industry (known as Nollywood) October 30-31.

Odugbemi, whose works include And The Chain Was Not and Gidi Blues: A Lagos Love Story, will speak at three screenings of his films, and share stories of his films over a photography exhibit. All events are free and open to the public.

The events aim to introduce “Nollywood” cinema to Normal, said Assistant Professor of English Paul Ugor, who is helping to coordinate the events.

“Nollywood is the second largest film industry in the world.” Producing nearly 1,500 films annually and estimated to be worth $3.3 billion, Ugor calls the evolution of Nollywood an incredible story of creativity. “This is the story of how artists in West Africa are adapting global media technologies in creating indigenous art forms that allow them to talk to their local audiences about the things that matter to ordinary people,” he said.

October 30

Noon – Jonathan Haynes of Long Island University will present “Trajectories of the Nigerian Film Industry” in Stevenson Hall, room 401, at Illinois State University. Hayes, a professor, is the author of the book The Creation of Nigerian Film Genres.

3 p.m. – Odugbemi will share photos and stories of his films at a photography exhibit at the University Galleries, 11 Uptown Circle, Normal. The Galleries will also host a photo exhibition of Nollywood posters.

7 p.m. – A screening of Gidi Blues: A Lagos Love Story at the Normal Theater in Uptown Normal. Odugbemi will share insights on his most recent feature, a buoyant romantic comedy set against the diverse metropolis of Lagos.

October 31

Noon – A screening of the documentary MAKOKO: Futures Afloat, written and directed by Odugbemi in Stevenson Hall, room 101, at Illinois State University. Divided by a bridge, the bustling economic part of Lagos stands adjacent to Makoko, a sprawling fishing community floating on the waste of a city. The film journeys in a world beneath the poverty line in the struggle for a better tomorrow.

5 p.m. – Screening of And The Chain Was Not at Capen Auditorium in Edwards Hall, at Illinois State University. Odugbemi tells the story of Freedom Park in Lagos, formerly Old Broad Street Prison. Once an instrument of colonial oppression, it has now become a peaceful place for contemplation and interaction.

The events are sponsored by Illinois State University’s Harold K. Sage Fund and the Illinois State University Foundation, the Departments of Sociology and Anthropology, Visual Culture, Theatre and Film Studies, the School of Communication and Universities Galleries.

Seven Named to Community Review Board

Ryan Denham & Charlie Schlenker        


Seven Bloomington residents—including several downtown and west-side leaders—have been picked for a new civilian board to advise the police chief.

The Bloomington City Council is expected to vote Oct. 23 on the first appointments to the Public Safety and Community Relations Board. The appointees chosen from 66 applicants are:

  • Robert Bosquez, serves with the West Bloomington Revitalization Project
  • Sally Rudolph, decades of public service in many roles including planning bodies and the McLean County League of Women Voters
  • Jeff Woodard, director of marketing and community relations at the McLean County Museum of History
  • Arthur Taylor, longtime civil rights activist
  • Jan Lancaster, owner of the Bistro in downtown Bloomington and a staunch ally of gay rights
  • William Bennett, City of Refuge Ministries pastor
  • Surena Fish, retired Wood Street resident who was active in recent years in a neighborhood campaign to stop disruptions at a business near Miller Park

“The city would like to wholeheartedly thank all of those who expressed interest in applying to serve in this capacity,” said city spokesperson Nora Dukowitz. “With 66 applications received, it was a challenging selection process. All applications will be kept on file for 24 months in case a vacancy should arise.”

The board’s creation in July capped a months-long lobbying effort by local organizations such as Black Lives Matter. That came in response to growing tensions in Bloomington between police and many members of the minority community, some of which were documented in a May report. Not In Our Town, YWCA McLean County, and the ACLU of Illinois joined Black Lives Matter in advocating for the board.

The mayoral appointees will advise the police chief and help settle disputes over complaints against Bloomington officers.


Conversanco Entre Nosotros: White Acadamia and Intersectionality

Join Illinois State University's Latin American and Latino/a Studies program on Friday, October 20, at 3 p.m. in Williams Hall 314 for the second event of the LALS Brown Bag Lecture Series.

During "Conversando Entre Nosotros," Dr. Tanya Diaz-Kozlowski, Instructional Assistant Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies, shares her experiences teaching an introductory Women and Gender Studies course at a predominantly white institution, articulating three barriers to teaching the ontological, epistemological, and material significance of intersectionality.

Diaz-Kozlowski articulates how she uses Chicana feminist pedagogies in the classroom and as an interdisciplinary scholar who aims to invigorate diverse student participation, revitalize curriculum, and dismantle systems of privilege and inequality in educational institutions.

This event is free and open to the general public.

'Hyperdocumented Academic' To Keynote ISU Latinx Heritage Month

Aurora Chang will deliver the keynote address for Latinx Heritage Month at Illinois State University with the talk “Undocumented to Hyperdocumented: A Journey of Papers, Protection, and Ph.D. status” at 5 p.m. Thursday, November 9, in the State Farm Hall of Business, room 357. The event is free and open to the public.

Once an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, Chang will relay her journey to becoming a “hyperdocumented” academic. She currently serves as an assistant professor of teaching and learning in the School of Education at Loyola University. Chang will also discuss her ongoing national research on the identity, education and agency of undocumented college students.

Interlacing personal experiences with findings from empirical qualitative research, the talk will explore undocumented students’ quest to achieve. Their effort to grow academically cultivates an empowering self-identity while simultaneously forcing them to involuntarily perform the role of infallible non-citizen citizen.

The event is sponsored by Latin American and Latinx Studies Program. For more information contact Latino Studies at latinostudies@IllinoisState.edu.

The Citiesscape Part 5: B/N's 'Social Vulnerability' Exacerbated by State Proposal?

Social vulnerability is defined as “the weakened resilience of communities when confronted by external stresses on human health,” such as natural or human-caused health issues or disease outbreaks. Higher social vulnerability levels often track with racial diversity, low SES, old age, limited transportation, low-quality housing, and population density.

A recently released Not In Our Town: Bloomington-Normal study by Illinois State University students and ISU’s Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development cites numerous points of vulnerability for a key segment of the Twin Cities populace.  

And according to Louis Goseland, director of the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans’ Caring Across Generations (CAG) campaign, nationwide trends, federal and state budget debate, and gubernatorial proposals to retool and cut funding for major Illinois home care could mean even greater vulnerability for low-income, senior, and diverse other Central Illinoisans.

CAG is a national movement of families, caregivers, people with disabilities, and aging Americans working to “transform the way we care in this country.” The movement uses online action, grassroots organizing, and “innovative culture change” work to improve health policies and practices, with an emphasis on “shifting how our nation values caregiving” and calling for solutions “that enable all of us to live and age with dignity and independence.”

Currently, Goseland and Co. are focusing on the Community Care Program, which provides home care services to nearly 90,000 seniors across Illinois, enabling them to remain at home and or in their communities instead of being forced into more costly nursing homes. The services provided by home care aides through the CCP include help with meals, laundry, housework, and errands, and costs to maintain individuals in the CCP program are $10,000 annually, versus nursing homes which cost in excess of $55,000.

But while the program has enjoyed bipartisan support, budget concerns have prompted Gov. Bruce Rauner to propose moving non-Medicaid seniors into a new “Community Reinvestment Program,” potentially imposing new hardships and costs especially on lower-income seniors and their families. Beyond slashing state funding for homecare services by $120 million, the governor’s plan would call on seniors currently accustomed to home care aides providing transportation to doctor’s appointments instead to take an Uber or other unfamiliar and questionably reliable transportation “from strangers.”

Proposals like that raise a variety of issues, from seniors’ technical capabilities and physical limitations to potential inconvenience and added costs for poorer working families. Overall, the CRP "really creates a more complicates system of care for people who aren't enrolled in Medicaid."

Goseland , who relocated from Kansas to Bloomington nearly two years ago, knows firsthand how dramatic health care/home care shifts can devastate a family.

“I have kind of a personal interest, because of the experience my family had when my grandmother fell ill, just realizing how just how much a lack of access to care impacts not just the person who is in need of that care, but also the entire family structure,” relates Goseland, who served as a professional community organizer for nearly 11 years, working on political campaigns, with college students, and in research into Trump administration appointees, before discovering CAG.

“When I was about 13, my grandmother, who had problems breathing, was in need of care, but in Kansas, there just wasn’t access to a sufficient sort of state-funded home care program. So my mom, who’d been happily employed at a union job, making a good wage, ended up having to drop that and move us to a rural part of the state in order to care for my grandmother. My mom had to take on whatever she could in terms of employment just to keep food on the table, but the work opportunities were so bad that she ended up taking on multiple jobs. My mom, who was part of what’s called the ‘sandwich’ generation, cared for her mother as much as she could while needing to be a mother herself and taking on multiple jobs just to try to make thing work.”

Goseland sees Illinois as fortunate in having the Community Care Program (“I wish we’d had that in Kansas”). It has grown by more than 105 percent over the past 10 years, and “demonstrates the critical need for the state to invest more into its aging population.”

But Rauner’s untested Community Reinvestment Program would remove 36,000 non-Medicaid seniors from CCP care and shifts many home and community-based services to regional or privatized systems which according to CAG would diminish quality of service.

All that with a “complicated system of vouchers and a revolving door of service providers,” and no guarantee funding would be available for non-Medicaid seniors in need of services, Goseland warned. The Illinois Department on Aging would be given unlimited authority to make program cuts at any time.

Instead of enabling home care aides to make healthy meals for seniors, the CRP would provide meal vouchers that might not provide some older Illinoisans reliable daily nutrition. Instead of a home care aide doing housekeeping and laundry, the state would contract new and unfamiliar laundry and housekeeping  services.

The Community Reinvestment Program lacks basic provider standards the Community Care Program imposes to protect senior safety and prudent funding use. It requires no licensure or certification requirements nor basic disclosure requirements for providers necessary to monitor or maintain quality of care.

And from a taxpayer standpoint, CAG argues Rauner’s plan could incur higher long-term statewide costs. “For every senior who is forced into a nursing home, the state could end up paying $15,600 or more annually than it would pay for that senior to remain in the Community Care Program,” Caring Across Generations maintains.

That’s amid what CAG sees as an already “unprecedented Elder Boom” -- every eight seconds, another baby boomer turns 65. That’s four million Americans per year and almost one in five Americans by 2025. By 2050, the number of Americans who will require some form of long-term care and support will double to 27 million.

Aside from "countless" Medicaid-eligible Illinois seniors who aren't enrolled, cost of care is expected to increase significantly for those whose income stream precludes Medicaid eligibility. "They're still facing a significant economic hardship" under the CRP, warned Goseland, who argued CCP funding "if anything should be supplemented" before the state institutes a privatized, voucher-based system.

"This is also a question of values," he said. "Are we as a state going to treat the growing longevity of our citizenry as a burden or a blessing?"

Not only seniors and families are impacted by the ongoing health care crunch -- the home care workforce makes a meager average $13,000 a year, leaving many caregivers to rely on public assistance.

The ISU/Stevenson Center study cites “overrepresentation of (health) services on the Eastside of Bloomington-Normal and the clustering of services along Veterans Parkway, Main Street, and Market Street.” Immanuel Health Center on Morris Avenue currently is the only health clinic located within Bloomington’s West Side.

West Side residents “in general are further removed from services than their East Side counterparts,” the team concluded. Public transportation can deliver residents to those services, but these trips often require seniors to make multiple transfers and can represent an additional economic and time cost “some residents cannot afford,” researchers concluded.

“Health care services in Bloomington-Normal were classified as hospitals, clinics, minute/quick clinics, psychiatric hospitals, orthopedic doctors, optometrists, dental offices, physical therapy centers, cancer care centers, and assisted living (including nursing homes and hospice),” the study details. “This abundance of services is helpful for the Bloomington-Normal residents, but there is a clear disparity in access to these services for all citizens.”

At the same time, the ISU report notes a higher prevalence of industrial sites and sources of pollution on the Bloomington-Normal’s west side. Most of Bloomington’s black population lives within the most vulnerable areas, subjected to more acute environmental hazards and sources of noise, smell, and air pollution.

Further, many areas of West and Southwest Bloomington are at a higher risk of flooding, while a major railroad junction runs through West Bloomington, surrounded by a number of industrial facilities and exacerbating both safety and health risks.

Nov. 4 Fundraiser Features International Menu, Night of Entertainment

Bloomington’s Breaking Chains Advancing Increase (BCAI) School of Arts is offering a Twin Cities fall date night quite unlike any other: An evening of music and dance with an international menu, a multicultural bar, and a safe and creative place to leave the kids.

bcai fundrAISER.jpg

BCAI’s Mix.Fuze.Evolve 2 (MFE2) fundraiser is from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4, at Reality on Monroe, 111 E. Monroe St. in Bloomington. Mix.Fuze.Evolve celebrates BCAI’s thesis that “experiences fuel creativity & fuse into ideas. Ideas unify & bring positive progression.”

The event will showcase culturally-infused live stage entertainment and music with a dance floor, a “culturally diverse” cash bar with 14 alcoholic and non-alcoholic options, a Coffeehound coffee bar highlighting blends from various cultures, and 12 culinary meals from six different cultures.

The event will include multiple raffles. Profits from the event will fund BCAI-supported scholarships.

In conjunction with the event, BCAI is holding a youth event for every age, infant to teenager, from 5:30 to 11 p.m. that night at Illinois Wesleyan University. The program is free for MFE2 ticketholders, but non-MFE parents also are welcome to register youth at a $25 per-child cost.

“We’re giving you five hours of free, constructive child care,” BCAI Director Angelique Racki added. “It’s a no-brainer.”

Tickets are $55 per person 21 or older. Tickets are available at Reality Bites, Coffeehound, or Signature India, or online at http://breakingchains116.wixsite.com/mfe2

BCAI provides an expression platform and arts education to everyone, regardless of income or background. Racki noted “we’re doing huge things at BCAI,” but although youth has always been a special focus, she stressed “BCAI’s vision is to education all generations.”

Guests at the Nov. 4 event will have the opportunity to submit positive “affirmations” for BCAI students and post “I am” statements that express their dreams, talents, and goals.

Entertainment will include performances by BCAI’s fall Indian and African dance classes. Bloomington’s Reality Bites restaurant plans an international menu for the evening, including:

•Akara & Rice

•Ata DinDin

•Tikka Masala Chicken

•Garbanzo & Potato Curry

•Black Beans & Rice

•A taco bar with an assortment of toppings and salsas

•Berry Pudding

•Baked Pumpkin


•Lamb & Toasted Nuts

•Ayam Goreng

•Pork & Vegetables Spring rolls


•Fried Thai Bananas

•Tres Leches Cake

•An assortment of globally inspired candy and treats

The event is co-sponsored by Not In Our Town: Bloomington-Normal.

NIOT National Director To Frame Hate Crime Film Discussion

Patrice O'Neill, executive director of the national movement Not In Our Town is coming to Bloomington's Moses Montefiore Congregation Nov. 2, along with a timely documentary on hate in modern-day America.

Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness is a one-hour documentary about a town coming together to take action after anti-immigrant violence devastates the community. In 2008, a series of attacks against Latino residents of Patchogue, New York culminate with the murder of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who had lived in the Long Island village for 13 years.

Over a two-year period, the story follows Mayor Paul Pontieri, the victim’s brother, Joselo Lucero, and Patchogue residents as they openly address the underlying causes of the violence, work to heal divisions, and begin taking steps to ensure everyone in their village will be safe and respected.

The Citiesscape Part 4: Bias Before the Bench, Behind Bars?

Minorities would appear to be “on the downside” of McLean County’s criminal justice system, according to a new study for Not In Our Town: Bloomington-Normal.

In a study conducted by Illinois State University students and the ISU Stevenson Center for Economic and Community Development, researchers uncovered apparent racial as well as gender disparities in McLean County incarcerations.

“On any given day, the McLean County jail population is majority white,” the ISU team noted. However, it is also 32 percent black, “highly disproportional to the population.” Research findings indicate that “there is still work to be done to ensure that minorities are not wrongfully targeted and incarcerated.”

“So if we’re 8 to 9 percent African-American, in the jail we’re about 36 percent African-American,” Stevenson Center study coordinator Frank Beck relates.

The study also indicates a disproportionate frequency in traffic stops and related searches for black motorists, as detailed in Part 3 of this series.

ISU researchers examined patterns in McLean County Jail and court files. Each local booking had a code, frequency, and percentage, and the team focused on each frequency that was higher than five thousand, enabling members to narrow analysis to the most frequent charges.

Students then researched each code to obtain the name of the charge (e.g., domestic battery, possession of drug paraphernalia, first time and previous DUI convictions, and key traffic violations including driving without a license or with an expired license).

Of the 22,157 persons in the jail on felony charges under the study, 17,481 were men, and4,676 were women. Men spent an average 35 days in jail for felony charges, while women spent half as many days in jail.

For overall convictions, blacks and Latinos spend more time in jail than whites. Blacks spent nearly twice as many days in jail than whites, while Latinos fell between the other two groups. That pattern was consistent for both felonies and misdemeanors.

“Future research can hold constant conviction status and charge severity to further determine where disparities are most pronounced,” the team suggested.

The research team also studied the frequency of each group booked on drug charges, identifying a disparity between the races during the late teen years and early 20s. Whites are booked more frequently for drug charges, but frequencies for whites and blacks converge around age 27, which researchers found “extremely significant.”

Blacks comprise roughly eight percent of the total McLean County population, and when the frequencies converge it does not mean the demographics are changing (such as whites “suddenly moving out of the area in droves”). “Around age 27, blacks are booked on drug charges at a rate even more disproportional to the population,” the team concluded.

“Charge severity is even between whites, blacks, and Latinos,” Beck observed. “African-Americans are not likely to be booked on things that are more violent. African-Americans are far less likely to be booked on DUIs. Driving under the influence is very much a white thing – less so Latino, and far less so African-American.”

Art: Norms for An Inclusive Workspace

As a veteran of the corporate workspace who worked to make it more diverse and understanding, retired State Farmer Art Taylor is now bringing what he calls his "norms for inclusive workspace" to the community dialogue.

One of his cardinal principles is to "accept others' perspectives as TRUE for them," even if they do not jibe with their own past experiences or views. That's important in comprehending the challenges and pain of racial, cultural, or religious bigotry and expanding dialogue aimed at reconciling differences.

That lesson came home to Taylor when as a teen he was forced to leave a Chicago college prep school for a Jackson, Ky., high school where a counselor argued that he, like other locally raised black students, should focus on ag classes. The young Chicagoan, who'd "never stepped foot on a farm," learned at that point how to deal with "someone trying NOT to understand."

"If people come in with an open mind, your experience can be accepted as truth," Taylor suggests. "Please recognize that someone else's reality is truth for them."

Taylor will help moderate a panel discussion on race and related issues following Normal First United Methodist Church's 7 p.m. Sept. 26 screening of Against All Odds, a documentary about the struggles of middle class blacks. The event is free and open to the public.

Taylor's offers several other norms to promote constructive social discussion:

* Use “ I rather than attempting to speak for the group -- “Speak for yourself," from your own experience. "Only YOU can tell your story," Taylor stresses.

* Be responsible for your own learning.

* Challenge yourself to be Inclusive.

* Take ownership for your learning and be honest with yourself.

* Be open to new realities.

* LISTEN, and be open to perspectives from others.

* Build trust.

* Say what needs to be said in the moment.

* Honor confidentiality.

* Give "grace" to yourself and others. In other words, Taylor says, respect a speaker's level of education, background, or other differences as they tell their truth.

* Focus on self-Improvement, not perfection.

* Make space for others to share and be who they are while withholding judgment.

* Work toward shared success.


The Citiesscape Pt. 3: Normal Traffic Stop Data Shows Major Racial 'Inequities'

Data on traffic stops in eight Central Illinois cities show significant “inequities” in police treatment of motorists of different races and ethnic origins, according to Illinois State University’s “A Community Report on Intolerance, Segregation, Accessibility, Inclusion, Progress, and Improvement.”

The new report, requested by Not In Our Town: Bloomington-Normal, notes blacks are stopped more often and arrested more often than their share of the Bloomington-Normal population would suggest. Vehicles driven by blacks are searched more often, and yet drugs are more often found in vehicles of white drivers.

In their study of race and the local criminal justice system, the ISU team focused on disparities in traffic stops and incarceration in the McLean County Jail.  Normal had 19,637 traffic stops out of 72,836 for all eight cities examined. That was 27 percent of all documented stops in the Twin Cities, Champaign, Decatur, Peoria, Rockford, Springfield, and Urbana.

Using 2015 Illinois Traffic Stop Data from the Illinois Department of Transportation, students investigated whether disparities in this portion of the criminal justice system exist, specifically for Bloomington-Normal.  Normal police stop vehicles at a far higher rate than police in Springfield or Peoria – ISU student researchers stated “the pattern is quite stark.” Without taking into account severity of charge, blacks who are arrested spend more time in the jail.

traffic stop chart.jpg

“We find that vehicles with black drivers are far more likely to be searched, compared to those with white or Hispanic drivers,” researchers concluded. “This is true in Bloomington, Normal, and the six other cities; however, Normal has a much smaller portion of vehicles searched relative to their large number of stops.

“Though searched more often, vehicles driven by blacks are less likely to have drugs or drug paraphernalia. We find that blacks spend more time in the jail than whites or Hispanic individuals. We also find that men spend more time in the jail than women, regardless of whether the charge is a felony or a misdemeanor.”

The second highest number of traffic stops occurred in Springfield at 15,910. Bloomington Police Department recorded the third highest number, with 9,740 stops. The remaining cities in order from most to least stops are Rockford with 7,095, Champaign with 7,029; Decatur with 4,982; Peoria with 4,784; and Urbana, with 3,659. When Bloomington and Normal are combined, they accounted for 40 percent of all stops in the eight cities.

Since 1999, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (a branch of the U.S. Department of Justice) periodically has conducted the Police-Public Contact Survey to determine the nature of this contact and discrepancies in race, gender, citations, use of force, etc.  The Bureau distributes surveys to people aged 16 and older, and asks them to describe their most recent contact with law enforcement within the past 12 months.

The Bureau noted a nationwide decline from 2002-2008 in the total number of persons who had contact with police. However, for those who had contact with law enforcement there were still discrepancies between whites, blacks, and Latinos. The number of Latinos drivers stopped by police between 2002 and 2008 increased 28 percent, although there was no difference for white and black drivers during the same period.

 In 2008, blacks were more likely to have contact with law enforcement than whites, asians, Native Hawaiians, and other Pacific Islanders. The survey also inquires whether those stopped by law enforcement felt the police behaved appropriately: Blacks and Latinos were less likely than whites to feel this was true. Similarly, black drivers were less likely to feel there was a legitimate reason for police stopping them.

Blacks were significantly more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than Latino and white drivers, and police arrested blacks at a higher rate than whites during traffic stops. Although no comparison was made in relation to the percentage of searches that resulted in finding anything illegal, only one out of five people searched felt police had a legitimate reason to do so, across racial lines.

The Bureau also analyzed the use of force during traffic stops. Although in 2002 and 2005, whites were less likely than blacks and Latinos to experience the threat of force, the 2008 study indicated that only blacks were more likely to experience force. In addition to experiencing more frequent traffic stops, blacks also experienced more frisks and searches.

Racial disparity was found to be greater in frisks than in general searches; racial disparity frisks are contingent on a community’s racial composition, and a driver’s race does not correlate with the productivity of searches.

“Racial profiling in law enforcement is a problem due to racial stereotypes, reflecting the ‘legitimizing myths’ that perpetuate social dominance and hierarchies,” the ISU team stated. “. . . Officers were more likely to stop someone depending on location (i.e., if a black was in a predominately white area, or if a white person was in a predominately black area).”

After standardizing stop data for population size, the degree to which Normal ranked highest in traffic stops -- after accounting for population size, Normal’s frequency of stops is more than twice that of the other seven cities.

In Bloomington, Latinos are disproportionately more likely to be stopped, where in Normal, Latinos are disproportionately less likely to be stopped, given their share of the population.

It is uncommon for officers to request searches from motorists in Bloomington or Normal, and the likelihood of such requests does not seem vary by race or ethnicity. Of requests for searches, though, blacks drivers are far more likely to decline the request. In the end, however, black drivers are most likely to have a search conducted.

In Bloomington, white drivers had a 5.6 percent chance of a search being conducted, Latino drivers had a 8.6 percent chance, and black drivers had a 13.0 percent chance of a search. A similar pattern emerged in Normal: White drivers had a 1.0 percent chance of having a search conducted, Latino drivers a 2.2 percent chance, and blacks had a 3.4 percent chance of having a search conducted.

For all eight cities combined, white drivers had a 4.2 percent chance of being searched, Latino drivers a 6.1 percent chance, and black drivers had a 12.4 percent of being searched.

“Although there is a higher chance of being pulled over in Normal, there is greater likelihood of being searched in Bloomington,” ISU researchers reported.

In Bloomington, while white drivers had the lowest chance of their car being searched, they had the highest percent of being found in possession of drugs. In Normal, black drivers had the highest percent of being found in possession of drugs, followed by white drivers. Latino drivers showed the lowest percentage of drug possession in either city.

In both Bloomington and Normal, students found white drivers to have the highest percentage of drug paraphernalia possession, followed by black drivers, again, despite the higher rate of searches on vehicles driven by blacks.

District 87 Approves 'Welcoming' Resolution for All Students

Julia Evelsizer

The Pantagraph

Students worried about deportation or judgement based on their family’s citizenship were told they have nothing to fear while attending Bloomington District 87 schools.

The District 87 school board approved a resolution on Wednesday affirming the district as a welcoming and safe environment for all students, regardless of immigration status.

“The resolution doesn’t fundamentally do anything in terms of policies and procedures we already have in place, but it sends the clear message to students that you mean something to us and we care about how you’re feeling. We wanted to show in a very public way that we support you and we’ll do all we can to keep you safe,” said Superintendent Barry Reilly.

Reilly said there are “probably” students enrolled in District 87 who come from illegally immigrated families, but said he hopes the resolution will "alleviate any worries those students may be feeling" after recent changes to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

“This sends a message to the general community so those kids and their families know we have their back,” said Reilly. “The teacher in front of them in the classroom will be more important than anything we do here.”

The idea for the resolution was developed by a group of teachers who were approached by students who said they were afraid of deportation and being uprooted from their homes and schools.

Kim Taber, a teacher at Bloomington Junior High School, read comments from worried students to the board.

“I worry when I go home, I won’t see my parents and I’ll be left alone with my siblings,” Taber read from a student comment.

“It means a lot that the resolution was so strongly supported by the board,” said Taber after the meeting. “We want to see students feel successful in a country where they don’t often get that message. To hear it straight from the district is powerful.”

BJHS teacher Helen Brandon said students of immigrant families “often feel forgotten, devalued and an unwelcome member in the community.”

“We welcome you and care about you,” said Brandon.

“In a climate where outside voices are not always supportive and are sometimes frightening, we want to help kids hear, firmly, that they are wanted here with us at school,” added Julie Riley, BJHS teacher.

Gavin Nicoson, a freshman at Normal Community West High School, attended the District 87 meeting as a member of Not In Our School, a group against bullying and discrimination in schools.

“I feel that these issues and worries with students are more prevalent. I’m sure it’s hard for those students to go home where they are accepted and loved and then go to school where they are worried that people don’t accept them. This gives me hope,” said Nicoson.

McLean County Unit 5 Superintendent Mark Daniel said the Normal-based district has discussed the resolution with District 87, particularly how the district partnered with teachers to develop the message.

“Unit 5 will begin a similar process and we expect it could result in a resolution as well,” said Daniel.

Against All Odds To Open Racial Dialogue

AGAINST ALL ODDS: The Fight for a Black Middle Class, to be screened at 7 p.m. September 26 at Normal First United Methodist Church, probes the harsh and often brutal discrimination that has made it extremely difficult for African-Americans to establish a middle-class standard of living.

The film, a PBS documentary that premiered this spring, will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Twin Cities NAACP Chairman Quincy Cummings, NIOTBN Education Subcommittee Chair Camille Taylor, and other community leaders.

As Bob Herbert notes in the film’s opening, “Whites talk about working hard and playing by the rules. But blacks have always had to play by a different, hateful set of hideously unfair rules. Working hard has never been enough for black Americans to flourish”. Through dramatic historical footage and deeply moving personal interviews, the documentary explores the often frustrated efforts of black families to pursue the American dream.

Today many African American families are still digging out of the recession that followed the Great Crash of 2007-08 and although some are doing better, black wealth remains meager compared to the white middle class. Nearly 40 percent of black children are poor, and for every dollar of wealth in the hands of the average white family, the typical black family has only a little more than a nickel.

This revealing and sometimes shocking documentary connects the dots of American history to reveal how the traditional route up the economic ladder by attaining a job that pays a living wage and then buying a house is a financial ascent that has been systematically denied to black families.  Reduced educational opportunity, rampant employment discrimination, the inequitable application of the GI bill, mortgage redlining and virulent housing segregation are among the injustices that have converged to limit the prosperity of black families from generation to generation.

Bob Herbert has been covering and commenting on American politics, poverty, racism and social issues for over 45 years through his tenure as a nationally-syndicated op-ed columnist for The New York Times as well as work for other newspapers and broadcast media. Growing up in New Jersey, the son of an upholsterer whose prosperous business was hobbled by banks unwilling to offer loans to blacks, Herbert had an intimate view of the barriers that faced striving black families.  His interviews with prominent African Americans, including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Isabelle Wilkerson, Congressman Elijah Cummings, renowned psychologist and author Alvin Poussaint, and policy activist Angela Glover Blackwell, as well as other accomplished black professionals, uncover generational stories
of profoundly damaging economic and social prejudice.

In AGAINST ALL ODDS, Herbert looks back at the uphill struggle facing black families freed from slavery over a century and a half ago and emerging from life as uneducated sharecroppers in the South. He traces the barriers to employment and housing designed to keep black people “in their place” both in southern states and in northern states as African Americans migrated throughout the country in search of opportunity and a better life. Shocking footage from Chicago in the 1950s and 60s shows how black families trying to escape overcrowded ghettos faced riots if they moved to a white block or a white suburb.  Beryl Satter—an author whose father, a white lawyer, fought against discrimination in Chicago— tells Herbert, “This whole history of white rioting and white violence has been historically buried.  When people think of violence and riots in the street, they always think of the 1960s when black people rioted, but when white people rioted, it doesn’t even have a name.”

For those blacks who have been successful in acquiring a middle class lifestyle in suburban neighborhoods such as Prince George’s County, Maryland, the foothold feels tenuous. Brent and Karla Swinton live there in a stately home and both have good jobs. But Brent says, “We may have arrived to a degree but we just got here so it’s still not quite the same.” The reality behind that sense of insecurity was abundantly clear following the Great Recession when widespread foreclosures stripped wealth out of the black community.

Yet through it all, Herbert reports, black Americans have shown time and again in the face of cruelty, systematic discrimination and injustice a tremendous resilience and determination to get their fair share of the American dream.  Herbert says, “There are no barriers that can’t be overcome. When dreams remain unrealized, it simply means the fight goes on.”

The Citiesscape Pt. 2: 'Desert' Life Unhealthy for Twin Citians?

Is West/Southwest Bloomington a “desert,” where lower-income residents and students especially may be virtually stranded far from healthy foods and drawn to retail “oases” that may foster serious or even lethal health risks?

According to a recently released NIOTBN-sponsored study by Illinois State University students and ISU’s Stevenson Center, the West Side exhibits disturbing desert-like conditions.    

The “disparities in access to healthy food correlates with many social factors,” including race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and income level,” concludes “A Community Report on Intolerance, Segregation, Accessibility, Inclusion, Progress, and Improvement.” A diet of “primarily unhealthy products” — including junk food, tobacco and liquor products, and fast food — can cause cardiovascular disease, liver cirrhosis, obesity, and multiple forms of cancer.

In mapping the Twin Cities, the ISU team quickly realized that Bloomington-Normal possesses many more convenience stores than grocery stores. Convenience stores stay open long hours, offering a small variety of household goods and “unhealthy” foods. With high convenience store accessibility and lower grocery store accessibility comes the tendency to rely on unhealthier convenience store options rather than the relatively healthier grocery store offerings, the study asserted.

Further, the majority of Bloomington-Normal's supermarkets and grocery stores are located along major roads, with Veterans Parkway, Market Street, and Main Street possessing the clear majority of store locations. On the map below, The areas shaded green are within one mile of a grocery store; unshaded areas are more than one mile from a grocery. The green and red dots indicate disadvantaged persons.

Additionally, layering the fast food/convenience store/grocery store locations over the map’s U.S. Supermarket Accessibility layer shows reason for significant concern in West and Southwest Bloomington. There are quite a few red dots more than one mile from a grocery. This becomes more concerning when considering walkability. Most of the grocery stores are located along high traffic roads that are difficult for pedestrians to navigate while carrying groceries. So, efforts to improve food security in West and Southwest Bloomington may be beneficial to disadvantaged community members.

“There are also far more fast-food restaurants than grocery stores in Bloomington-Normal,” the team noted. “In all, unhealthy food options are more available than healthy ones.

“Distance to, prevalence of, and accessibility of healthy food options are directly related to a person’s overall health. Neighborhoods which lack these nutritious and affordable food options are called food deserts. While located in urban and rural settings, food deserts are found predominantly in low-income communities of color.

“Individuals in these food deserts will face a higher density of tobacco stores and fast-food restaurants with few, if any, healthy food options. When people and families have to expend more energy and resources to get fresher, healthier options than food found at convenience stores or fast-food restaurants, they will often choose to buy more readily available and less healthy food. Fast-food restaurants and tobacco companies target low-income and minority populations in their advertising—such as fast-food companies offering free prizes and more kids’ meals in lower income neighborhoods than higher income communities.”

Middle school and high school students walking to school are confronted with many “concealed dangers,” students advised. On the way to and from school in some neighborhoods, students may pass by multiple fast food establishments as well as alcohol and tobacco stores. According to several studies, more than fifty percent of U.S. schools that are mostly minority have both fast food and tobacco stores in close proximity, and low-income and minority students have a greater chance of taking routes to and from school that can expose them to fast food, alcohol, and tobacco stores.

Latino students are more likely to go to schools that are in areas including multiple alcohol, tobacco, and fast food establishments. Having these establishments near schools can increase the rates of obesity seen in school children as well as higher rates of teenage smoking, and children who pass these places everyday on their way to school are more likely to be offered alcohol, tobacco, or even other drugs.

“It is encouraged that students walk to school, but the dangers of kids passing these businesses can lead to unhealthy habits,” the ISU study warned. “Compared to middle schoolers, high schoolers have a higher chance of being affected by encountering these businesses daily. In sum, the literature points to a clear association between socioeconomic status and the chance of passing by these types of establishments.”

While a trio of new groceries has emerged in Bloomington over the past two years, two are located on the Veteran’s Parkway strip, and two, including the Green Top Grocery on the near West Side, are specialty retailers featuring organic, “natural,” and other trait-identified products that often are out of the basic price range of lower-income families. Green Top is a co-op grocery, where customers can purchase shares in the store to receive discounts and rebates – a model which according to Stevenson Center study coordinator Frank Beck may not fit the conventional “cultural dynamic” or consumer preferences of lower-income and minority consumers.

Kroger’s location at College and Emerson serves both Illinois Wesleyan students and West Siders. But Aldi’s, a discount food outlet, operated on Market Street, serving a West Side clientele, for roughly nine years before moving to the western city fringe near Walmart and opening a second location on Veteran’s bordering Normal’s east side Walmart – in either case, a drive or bus ride for the West Side’s poorer or older residents. A Latino grocery operates in the former Market Street location, with fresh produce but a tailored product selection.

While chains like Walmart have been making inroads into populous metropolitan inner city neighborhoods, securing a major new grocery in or adjacent to Bloomington’s lower-income neighborhoods is a daunting challenge.

“There’s a whole science out there of, ‘Should we build it, and where should we built it?’” Beck related. “Those folks that are going to spend those millions of dollars know that science back and forth. At the community level, by rough estimates, these days, you have to have a population of about 3,000 to make ends meet, if you’re the owner of a grocery store. Some small towns have thought of co-ops and other things – food deserts are not just in urban; they’re in rural as well.”

Immigration Project Helping Save Thousands of Illinoisans DACA 'Dreams'

This week, nearly 80,000 young students, workers, and householders who’ve spent much or nearly all their life in the U.S. learned that over the next 2 ½ years, they could lose their adopted home.

“This is really going to hurt our economy; it’s really going to hurt all these individuals and their families,” warns Charlotte Alvarez, executive director of Normal-based The Immigration Project, which is working to help thousands of Illinois “DREAMers” cope with the White House-announced phase-out of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Under the announcement, individuals whose DACA designation expired prior to Sept. 5 cannot file a new program renewal application, and are effectively “terminated,” Alvarez reported. Those with pending renewals can still be processed -- The Immigration Project is helping ensure client applications are processed in a timely manner.

Currently, those facing DACA expiration between Sept. 5 and March 5, 2018, must file a two-year renewal application with receipt by immigration officials before Oct. 5 or lose their shot at renewal.

“In this state, we have about 10,000 young people who must file renewal applications within the next month,” Alvarez advised. “We’re recommending that if anybody in our service area – in Central or Southern Illinois – needs to file a renewal, and their DACA expires between Sept. 5 and March 5, they should contact our office as soon as possible. We’ve had a lot of panicked DACA clients calling us up wondering what this announcement means to them, what will happen to people who have DACA once their work permit and their permission to remain expires.”

In fact, the Project has dedicated a staff member, Thalia Novoa, to focus on DACA renewal, and callers (309-829-8703) can listen for a specific DACA renewal extension to begin the process. If applicants prefer to handle the process themselves or decide they need legal consultation, the Project can identify resources or clarify the process.

“One of the things that’s a challenge for people is affording the application,” Alvarez noted. “The application in each case costs $495 to file. I know people whose DACA expired, and they saved up enough money to pay the fees again, but they’re now not able to. And now we have all these people who either were saving up money por planning to renew in the future who suddenly have to renew in the next month.”

Some applicants thus have launched Gofundme or similar campaigns to raise the money necessary to renewal, and The Immigration Project is seeking organizations that might be willing to provide financial support for clients.

DACA, signed in June 2012, stated that the government would not deport those who arrived here before the age of 16 and are under 31 years of age on June 15, 2012; who are in school or possess a high school diploma; who have lived here for at least five years; and who have not committed serious crimes.

DACA supporters are pinning long-term hopes on congressional intervention. Two federal immigration proposals – the BRIDGE (Bar Removal of Individuals Who Dream and Grow Our Economy) Act and the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act – propose to address concerns by creating what Alvarez terms “a real path to citizenship.”

The Project joined Tuesday with “a fairly sizeable crowd” of DACA supporters in an Uptown Normal rally, requesting that Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, whose office is in Uptown, meet with those affected by new DACA rules and support either bills. As of Thursday, no meeting date had been scheduled.

At the same time, attorneys general of 15 states and the District of Columbia, including Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, have filed a lawsuit alleging the administration’s action violated the due process rights of the young immigrants by failing to safeguard the personal information they initially gave the government in order to enroll in DACA.

“The solution is, either the administration reconsiders this policy, or Congress acts and creates a law and protections for these kids,” Alvarez said. “A lot of the DACA kids we have came to the country when they were two or three. They barely remember or don’t remember the country they were from. We’ve had clients who have gotten bachelors degrees, relying on DACA to be able to work. I have clients who are nurses, who are students, who are professionals. This is just going to pull the rug from beneath their dreams. It’s a real blow for them.”

For more information, visit The Immigration Project at www.immigrationproject.org.