Yearly Archives: 2018

Driving While Undocumented: About the Proposed Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act

Not an Ordinary Traffic Stop

Carlos Cardona Fuentes

Carlos Cardona Fuentes, an undocumented farmworker and activist pictured here with his daughter, is facing deportation for driving without a license (Photo Credit: NY Daily News)

Just two weeks ago, Carlos Cardona Fuentes appeared in immigration court in Buffalo, New York, facing deportation.  Fuentes, a father, dairy farmer, and undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, has lived and worked in the United States for nearly a decade.  In September, as he was driving home to celebrate his daughter’s 3rd birthday, he was pulled over in a routine traffic stop. However, when he could not provide a valid NYS driver’s license, the police turned him over to immigration authorities.  Fuentes was held at the Buffalo Federal Detention Center in Batavia, NY for five days and was released on a $10,000 bond. Not only did he miss an important day for his family, but he now risks being separated from his wife, young daughter, and the life he has made here in New York.

New Licensing Legislation

While Fuentes’ case is one of the many that pass through the “pipeline of deportation” created by traffic stops in New York state, his is particularly interesting. In a twist of irony, Fuentes is the vice president, co-founder, and prominent organizer of “Alianza Agricola,” an organization that aims to prevent cases just like his by advocating for

Alianza Agricola

Members of Alianza Agricola help lead the Green Light NY campaign for drivers licenses for all New Yorkers (Photo Credit: @AlianzaAgricola Twitter)

legislation to provide access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants in New York. Alianza Agricola is a grassroots organization led by farmworkers and is one of several organizations and immigrant advocate groups that have called on the New York State Assembly to pass what is known as the “Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act”, also known as the “Green Light Legislation” (A. 10273).  With the passage of this act, New York would join the twelve other states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Vermont, and Washington) and the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico that have recognized and addressed the need of undocumented immigrants to secure driving privileges.

Expanding Access  

It would not be the first time that New York would allow undocumented immigrants to obtain a NYS driver’s license. In fact, it wasn’t until 2002 when Governor Pataki made it a requirement to have a valid Social Security number in order to apply for one that undocumented immigrants were barred from possessing a state-issued driver’s license. Now, if the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act passes in the 2019 legislative session as many speculate, it would give the green light to an estimated 250,000 eligible undocumented immigrants residing in New York to apply through the Department of Motor Vehicles for a standard driver’s’ license. While this license will differ from the REAL ID issued for federal purposes, the DMV will not indicate or record whether a Social Security number was among the documents used to satisfy the requirement for valid identification. This is an important part of the legislation aimed at preventing discrimination against and identification of individuals who possess this limited purpose “standard driver’s license,” including their citizenship or immigration status.

Standard License v Real Id

Undocumented immigrants would be able to get standard licenses. Unlike REAL ID licenses, they won’t be valid for federal purposes. (Photo Credit: Green Light NY)

What to Expect

Fortunately for Fuentes, his case has been deferred until March 12th, which means he does not have to worry about being deported quite yet; in the meantime, thousands of other undocumented drivers are running the same risk on the road every day as they wait for the laws to change. If the Driver’s License Access and Privacy Act passes, undocumented immigrants like Fuentes will no longer have to live in fear of detention, deportation, and family separation while carrying out their daily activities. Especially in rural and suburban areas or areas with limited public transportation, the ability to drive seems to be a necessity, rather than a privilege, as it is essential to work, attend school, and provide basic necessities such as food and medical care. So what else can we expect from this legislation? Here are some of the many projected benefits of extending licenses to undocumented immigrants:

Personal

  • Security in the form of a valid, statewide form of identification and license to drive
  • Fewer family separations
  • Increased job opportunities and improved working conditions
  • Reduced fear during daily activities
  • Increased independence from not having to rely on others for transportation needs

Public

  • Increased safety through the requirement of road and vision tests; the ability to register one’s car and purchase insurance; and freeing up more police and court time for more urgent matters of public safety   
  • Increased visibility, activity, and community integration of undocumented immigrants
  • Interestingly, California has even seen an increase in organ donations!

Economic

  • Estimated $57 million increase in annual revenue from registration fees, sales taxes, gas taxes; additional $26 million in revenue from one-time licensing fees, car purchases
  • Estimated $8.6 million increase in annual revenue for public transportation in NYC
  • An increased supply of workers to all sectors
  • Greater economic participation through employment and the ability to register for credit cards and bank accounts

Paige Cross

ISP Case Manager


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Ithacan Immigrant: Stephen

This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Stephen, a Ghanian national, who came to the US in 2014.  Stephen recently accessed our immigration legal services and we assisted him in becoming a legal permanent resident.  One thing he revealed during this interview is he can speak 9 languages!

 

ISP: Why did you come to US?

I came here basically because of my ex-wife.  She asked me to come to the U.S. on a fiancé visa so we could live our life together here.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

This is where my ex-wife was living at the time.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

It’s a nice place. It’s very small but that’s okay. When I first came here I remember thinking it was a friendly city and everyone was very welcoming here.  The hospitality they give to everybody who’s not from here made me fall in love with Ithaca.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Mac and cheese. I never had it before coming to the U.S. but now I make it at home.

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

I like Ithaca Mall.  There’s a lot of stores there so you can literally get anything you want there.  My favorite store would be Best Buy because you can just go in there and play music, play games, whatever you want.

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

I can say the biggest difference is here, most people speak one language.  In my hometown, Takorado, Ghana, people speak at least 3 main tribal languages.  I speak about 9 languages because there are about 50 tribal languages in my country. We have 1 major tribe language (Fanti) but people from other tribes live there so there are 3 languages.  I learned the other languages from relatives, friends, and school.  I learned English in school.  English is the official language for the whole country.

 

Ithacan Immigrant: Delta

This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Delta, a Laotian national, who came to the U.S. through family reunification. Delta is currently attending TC3 and is taking the steps to become a U.S. citizen.

ISP: Why did you come to US?

I came because I wanted to get a better education and there’s more opportunity.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

I moved to Ithaca because my mother lived here.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

My first impression was it looks almost like Paris, France. It’s a small, cute town.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Chicken wings – I usually go to Casablanca.

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

I have lots of places I like – sometimes I like TJ Maxx, I also like thrifting. I go to Trader K’s and and other thrift shops like the Salvation Army.

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

The people. People in my home time have personal relationships – I feel like people in the U.S. are more distant. People here are more focused on their own business. People in my country are focused on everyone’s business – you jump in and help a family member.

This is What Democracy Looks Like

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I will like to say thank you all of you guys for coming to our citizenship ceremony today!! 😊😊 may god bless you all of you. 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼❤️❤️

I was happy to see the message above posted by Eh K’Pru, one of our citizenship clients, expressing her gratitude to everyone who attended yesterday’s citizenship ceremony.  Thirty new citizens were sworn-in as U.S. citizens at Tompkins County Court House, including Eh K’Pru and her mother, Ah Ku.  Earlier, I had left the courtroom where democracy was certainly in the air especially after a song was performed where the musicians and audience had a back and forth chanting:

 Tell me what democracy looks like!  This is what democracy looks like!

A lot of memories will stay with me because of yesterday’s event.  I’ll remember seeing Eh K’Pru and Ah Ku walk to the front of the courtroom wearing Karen traditional clothing and shake the judge’s hand as they were handed their citizenship certificates.  I’ll think of how grateful I felt for the group of instructors, staff, and tutors from BOCES Adult ESL Program and Tompkins Learning Partners who surrounded the two for a photo op to remember this momentous occasion.  This group of women (pictured above) can be credited for engaging the two in years of classroom instruction and one-on-one citizenship tutoring in order for them to become new citizens.  This is quite an impressive feat!  And I’ll recall how nice it was to see a long line of ESL students file into the courtroom one-by-one to show support for their classmates who were about to be naturalized as U.S. citizens.

Also, added to my memory  bank will be how yesterday’s ceremony was just one day after the 2018 mid-term elections (where the House went back to the democrats). Democracy was still in the air and was illustrated by elected officials giving speeches that encouraged the new citizens to assert their right to vote in future elections.  Members from the Kiwanis Club of Ithaca were also in the lobby just outside the courtroom door where voter registration forms were being offered to the new potential voters.  The theme of democracy played throughout the entire ceremony and will be as memorable as this year’s mid-term elections were where record-breaking numbers of people turned out to vote.

Congratulations to Eh K’Pru and Ah Ku and hopefully in 2020, we’ll see both of them wearing “I Voted” stickers on election day as they assert one of the best perks that comes along with being a U.S. citizen, the right to vote.

Sue Chaffee

Accredited Rep

 

 

 

 

Call to Action: Oppose the Proposed Public Charge Rule

Public-Comment

It’s time to submit a public comment on the public charge rule.

On September 22, 2018, the Trump Administration posted a proposed rule changing the definition of who may be considered a “public charge” in the U.S. The full document can be read here.  Individual immigrants who are looking to maintain or obtain legal immigration status will be severely impacted by this change in policy if it is implemented without changes. Not only is the government proposing to expand the list of public benefits that could prevent immigrants from acquiring legal immigration status but it is also looking to deny applications based on various factors such as age, health, family status, financial status, education, skills and employment history.

Immigration advocacy groups are warning that entire households will be harmed, as there is no way to target individual immigrants without hurting their children and families. Fears are being stoked and reports of immigrants avoiding healthcare are being reported both locally and nationwide.  For example, Tompkins County’s  Mom’s program (Medical Obstetrical and Maternal Services) has reported a steep decline in the number of foreign national pregnant women seeking their services which can potentially result in critical services, such as prenatal care, not being accessed.

But the public has been given an opportunity to fight back by commenting on the government’s regulations.gov website. While the public comment period has been open since October 10, 2018, it doesn’t end until December 10, 2018 so there is still time to take action.

This tweet posted by @cliniclegal (Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc.) has a great tutorial on how to navigate the regulations.gov website in order to submit a public comment. At this moment in time, close to 5,000 comments have been made regarding the  proposed changes to the current public charge ground of inadmissibility and hopefully that number will exponentially grow.  CLINIC has also created a list of sample comments that can be personalized.  Keep in mind that identical comments will be automatically filtered out. 

I oppose the proposed rule “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” because:

  • I object to this proposed rule, which is essentially a wealth test for hardworking immigrants striving to achieve the American Dream.  It has not been proven that the new public charge tests immigrants would have to pass, such as a credit history check, English proficiency, or education, have any actual bearing on their potential.  They seem more like barriers to prevent less affluent applicants from entering.  No changes should be made, and the current definition of public charge should remain in place.
  • No family should have to make the choice between immigration status, stability and protection or receiving public benefits that keep their families fed, healthy and sheltered.  This proposed rule would hurt families and the communities they live in, forcing localities to try to meet these vital humanitarian needs through social services, if any are available.
  • Public benefits exist to help all hardworking families in America who need a little assistance to make ends meet.  Placing this insurmountable barrier between immigrant families and the safety net could have disastrous effects on these families.  Affected immigrants with manageable chronic conditions may be forced to abandon their health coverage, such as Medicaid or Medicare, in order to protect their families, leading to reliance on emergency rooms and other public health consequences.
  • In addition to the societal consequences related to families affected by the rule, the rule’s chilling effect will make the resulting crises even greater.  Immigrants afraid that the rule may apply to them or affect their status in the future may withdraw from benefits, impacting the health and well-being of their family members and communities.
  • The proposed rule is inhumane, affecting families’ ability to access SNAP in order to get the adequate food and nutrition they need in order to maintain immigration status.  Hunger and malnutrition affects a person’s ability to focus, function, and fight off disease.  Hunger is already a serious problem in the United States.  A proposal to add to this epidemic is against the public interest and the progression of our society.

Comments must be submitted in English and if you do not want to include any personal information, a friend or representative can submit a comment for you. As the header on the regulations.gov website says….

Make a difference. Submit your comments and let your voice be heard.

Sue Chaffee

Accredited Rep

 

Finding Work – An Answer to a Prayer

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Jose completing new hire forms

I first met Jose at the end of June when he came to Catholic Charities for immigration legal services.  At the end of his appointment, we were introduced so I could provide him with assistance in finding a new job.  Jose was working 11 hour days/7 days a week and was hoping to find a job that had better hours and better pay. He was also referred to me because he had limited English proficiency and needed help finding new employment despite having a language barrier. Little did we know that less than one week later his workplace would announce that they were closing their doors; in August they began their first round of layoffs.

When asked about how he felt when he found out that his employer for over 7 years was closing, Jose said: “I was a little surprised, but I was hopeful because I had just come here to look for a new job. I had faith that I was going to get another job because of my faith in God and because of the help I’ve received [at Catholic Charities] before.”

 Over the course of two months, I helped Jose apply for nearly a dozen janitorial or manufacturing positions at companies in Ithaca. While we waited to hear back, we practiced understanding and answering common interview questions, first in Spanish, then in English. He was invited to interview for three positions: one at Cayuga Medical Center, one at Ithaca College, and another at Ithaca City School District, where he has been gainfully employed since mid-September as a custodial worker.

For Jose, finding work was, as he says, “an answer to his prayers.” He says that he is content and has learned fast, even though this is the first time he has done work exclusively in cleaning. Jose describes himself as neat and organized, which is evident even down to his elegant penmanship! When I asked him about his new job, he described the sense of satisfaction it brings him:

When I finish cleaning a room, I stand in the doorway and look at the entire space from one side to the other.  I like to survey the work I’ve done. When I see that the room is clean, I can say to myself that I’ve done a good job. That makes me feel good.

Of course, starting a new job always comes with its share of challenges.  Jose told me that one of the reasons he comes to Catholic Charities is because we have always helped him overcome challenges in the past.  According to Jose, “the first time I came here I received help with my citizenship. I’ve had help with learning English and with getting my health insurance. Catholic Charities has helped me get my mom to the United States and  I am getting help to bring my wife. And now I’ve gotten a new job, thanks to you. I am happy. I’m eternally grateful to you.”

Jose also said that since his English is minimal, our help with completing all the employment and immigration paperwork is important. We have navigated through human resource paperwork from background checks and fingerprinting to insurance enrollment and investment planning. Together, we have even received financial counseling on how to rollover his 401k to a 403b and how to choose sound options so that he can continue investing in his future.

In the past few months, Jose has overcome many obstacles aside from the sudden closing of his workplace. His English tutor passed away, his mother’s health has deteriorated, and his car was damaged in an accident. Despite this, he remains as characteristically optimistic and hard working as ever. He likes that he doesn’t have to work on holidays now, but still volunteers to cover shifts for his coworkers and work extra hours on the weekends.  He is also eager to learn more English and plans to start taking ESL classes in the morning at TST BOCES before work.

Paige Cross

Job Development/Case Manager

Ithacan Immigrant: Sonam

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This week’s Ithacan Immigrant features Sonam, who emigrated from India to the U.S. with her family in 2013.  In the late 1990’s, her sister filed a family based petition and almost 14 years later they received their immigrant visas.   Sonam and her family now call Ithaca home along with her sister and other Tibetans in our community.  She first came to Catholic Charities several years ago for immigration legal services and recently returned to get assistance with applying for citizenship.  Once she naturalizes, she hopes to return yet again to get help petitioning to bring her parents to the U.S.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

At first, I didn’t want to come to the U.S. because I didn’t have any interest to leave my home.  I had a good job in a hospital and I didn’t want to leave. I heard stories about how many people came here and didn’t find good jobs. But my husband wanted to come for a better life and to raise our kids, so we took a chance.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

I’d rather live in New York City but my husband really wants to stay here.  He likes the environment, and how calm it is here.  I love New York City but living there can be very complicated and here it is calm.  But I don’t drive so it’s easier to live in a bigger city because down there I can hop on the Metro and go anywhere.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

It looks like the place where I came from.  It’s the same as my country – hills, water and trees.  If my parents lived here I would never want to go back to India.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

I usually cook at home but sometimes we eat American food in restaurants.  Like we went to Ciao and had their pizza.  Another time we went to Texas Roadhouse and ate grilled steak – I liked that a lot.  Most of the time though if we eat out we eat Indian food at Diamonds.

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

For food we go to Wegmans and Walmart and get our fruits at Aldis.  For other shopping we go to Target and Dicks.  Dicks is expensive but has good stuff.

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

We don’t have heat in our house in India – that’s a big difference.  We don’t have running water that is hot.  We must turn on a geyser, something like a water heater, and it heats the water.  But this is very expensive and we don’t always have electricity.   And a lot of time we don’t have electricity so that makes heating the water even harder.  We bathed standing in a big bucket and then we poured the water over us.  My daughter couldn’t believe it when we came to the U.S. and saw there was a bathtub.  She said she never wanted to go back to India because she wanted to always have a bathtub.

 

Citizenship Day, 2018

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Each year, hundreds of thousands of foreign-born residents become U.S. citizens.

This week, many Americans across the country are celebrated on Constitution Day and Citizenship Day which were both held on September 17.  Constitution Week is also being celebrated and is held from September 17-23.  Citizenship Day is marked by ceremonies and celebrations around the country as many legal permanent residents take the oath of allegiance and become naturalized as U.S. citizens.

In 2009, I met with Eh, who came to the Immigrant Services Program at Catholic Charities to get help to apply to become a U.S. citizen.  Eh, a refugee from Burma, happened to be the first person our program offered citizenship services to.  Since preparing and filing that first application, we have assisted over 700 immigrants in our community to become U.S. citizens.  Because Citizenship Day is a good time for naturalized citizens to reflect what it means to become a U.S. citizen, I asked Eh about some of his thoughts on this topic.

Why did you want to be a citizen?

I couldn’t go back to my country so I had to be a citizen here.  In Burma, I fought the government, which was the army and the military, for a long time because we needed democracy.  We stayed on the Thai Burmese border then finally applied to be refugees. The U.S. government sponsored me as a refugee so I came here.

Has becoming a U.S. citizen changed your life in any way?

I think it’s important to be recognized as a citizen here.  Before I was a citizen we had to worry if we were legal or not even though we came in a legal way.  We wanted to fully feel freedom so we applied to be citizens.  When you’re a citizen you can vote, you have the same say as other people in the U.S.  When you’re not a citizen you can’t vote and you don’t really have freedom.

What do you remember about becoming a U.S. citizen?

First of all, I had to learn English.  When I came to the U.S. I took ESL classes for almost 2 years.  I was here 5 years before I could apply for citizenship.  I came here [Catholic Charities] to get help to make out the application and then after that you tested me several times on things I had memorized.  It was hard to study those things because it wasn’t in my language. I studied for 6 months and learned brand new things every day.  It was a step-by-step process.   You tried to teach me though and encouraged me so I passed.

It’s been almost 10 years since you studied for the test.  Do you remember any of the questions you were asked during your interview?

Oh yes, I’ll always remember them.  They asked me about Independence Day, who the first president was, and the history about the United State.  They asked me what river is the longest one, what state is the largest, and about the holidays in the United States.

I remember us repeatedly practicing who the speaker of the house was so I asked Eh if he remembered the correct answer and he did, Nancy Pelosi.

What do you remember about the ceremony?

I felt really good.  They had us to go to DeWitt Middle School and had the room fixed up real nice for the ceremony.  I looked out and I could see some of my friends had come to watch.  I couldn’t understand everything that was being said but I could understand some of it.  I was happy because I felt like I was legal, I could vote, and now I had freedom in the U.S.   

Sue Chaffee

Accredited Rep

Growing Up in a Mixed Status Family

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Sara visiting Taughannock Falls, Ithaca NY

I recently met with Sara who is the U.S. citizen child of parents who are unauthorized. Immigration policy researchers estimate there are several million children living in mixed status families, similar to Sara’s, where there is at least one citizen or legal immigrant child and at least one parent who is an unauthorized immigrant (Migration Policy Institute, 2016).  In Sara’s case, both of her parents are unauthorized and she and her 3 siblings were born in the U.S.

We spoke about the fact that Sara will be turning 21 soon and therefore will be eligible to apply for her parents to begin the green card process.  However, to become a legal permanent resident through a U.S. citizen child who has turned 21, an unauthorized parent must either be eligible to adjust their status in the U.S. or face leaving the country.

The facts that Sara presented about her case suggested her parents would have to go back to Mexico for consular processing.  Since they had accrued more than 1 year of unlawful presence in the U.S. they would automatically trigger the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility which in turn would bar them from reentry for 10 years.  Even though there is potentially a path to citizenship for Sara’s parents, it would be a long road.

When asked if being part of her parent’s legalization process concerned her, Sara replied,

Sometimes I have looked into getting them their papers but it’s not my priority.  Also, I know my parents have a lawyer.  They know that when I turn 21 they can start filing some paperwork.  So, I think about it sometimes, but it doesn’t consume me.  But still, 10 years is a really long time.

In the past I have assisted other U.S. citizen children who were born to unauthorized parents start the green card process.  However, those cases were for parents who were inspected at the U.S. border and therefore they could go through the whole green card process without leaving the U.S.  The inspection by a U.S. immigration officer was pretty much their ticket to a much easier process than the one that parents like Sara’s would have who entered without inspection.

Even though Sara’s parents would have to return to their home country for 10 years, she still felt optimistic about her future and the futures of her 3 siblings because she felt like she had helped fulfill her parents dreams which was to be successful in school.

I think one of my parents’ main goals in coming to the U.S. was to have better educational opportunities for us [their children].  My dad was 17 and I think originally, he planned on making money and then go back home.  But he met my mother when they attended adult education classes and then they got married.  I think my parents wanted to live here so they could give us a better education than they had.

Growing up I felt there was more pressure to do well in school or do great things because other immigrants come here and can barely speak English.  It put pressure on us that our parents expected a lot of us because we were born here.  Imagine you don’t do well with your grades and your cousins in Mexico do better. I graduated in the top 3% of my class though and got accepted into 3 colleges.

Even though Sara’s parents would have to leave the U.S. for 10 years if she is successful in getting their green card process started when she turns 21,  she thinks her entire family will be okay.

For my family, it comes down to intellectual capital. My parents really value education and me and my siblings have done very good in school with no tutors or other assistance.  We have been able to be at the level of other students who were not first generation.  A lot of people think if they send their kids to work, the family will be successful; education isn’t a priority. But I don’t think that’s the case.  Higher education is a long-term investment and that’s how you get your career.  In that sense my parents have achieved what they wanted to by coming to the U.S.  If my parents have to leave, I’m pretty sure me and my sibling wouldn’t go with them.  But we would be okay.  By the time they’d have to leave, we’d be in college and in the long-term we will have careers.

When asked about the positives and negatives of her parents leaving the U.S. and the 10 year bar they would trigger, Sara had mixed feelings.

If my parents go back to Mexico, they would have more freedom.  They wouldn’t have restrictions about going out and would no longer have to worry about being deported. Plus, they would be able to get jobs because they have a lot of connections there.  But it’s pretty sad knowing what my parents have contributed to this country and the fact that they would have to leave.  Obviously, there is a plethora of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and the fact that they can’t become citizens is ridiculous.

Sue Chaffee

Accredited Rep

 

Ithacan Immigrant: K’Pru

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For this week’s Ithacan Immigrant, we interviewed K’Pru, a Karen refugee who was resettled in the U.S. after spending over 14 years in a refugee camp in Thailand.  K’Pru, along with his mother and sister, came to Catholic Charities for our legal immigration services shortly after they relocated to the Ithaca area to get help in adjusting their status from refugees to  legal permanent residents.  Now (4 years later) we are assisting the family once again so they can become U.S. citizens.

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ISP: Why did you come to US?

I came because of the civil war in Burma and my family wasn’t safe.  We moved to Thailand then came here.

ISP: Why did you decide to live in Ithaca?

I wanted to live close to my cousin and wanted to learn English and find a job.

ISP: What was your first impression of Ithaca?

When I came here it was spring time and Ithaca looked nice.  It was a small town and I liked how it looked.

ISP: What is your favorite American food?

Pasta – I like spaghetti.  I eat that at the Statler.

ISP: Where is your favorite place to shop in Ithaca?

I like TJ Maxx.  The store is cheaper and they have everything that I want.

ISP: What is the biggest difference between Ithaca and your home town?

In Burma, it was very different. We lived in a small village and had a house made out of bamboo.  We had a farm with small animals, cows, pigs, ducks, chicken and we planted vegetables, peanuts and rice.  Here we living in an apartment and  we garden in the community garden (the one that is next to Aldi’s).