Centro Latino and Columbia Hope Church host immigration summit

Sunday, September 26, 2010 | 4:04 p.m. CDT; updated 3:37 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 27, 2010
From right, Eloy Montenegro speaks on the panel of immigrants with Mayra Canales and Gabriela Renteria-Poepsel for the first Immigration Summit at Columbia Hope Church on Saturday. During the panel, titled "The Reality of Immigration," immigrants shared their stories on coming to the U.S.

COLUMBIA — Community advocates, lawyers, and immigrants came forward to tell their stories at Centro Latino's first Central Missouri Immigration Summit.

Panelists and speakers addressed immigration in Missouri and nationwide during the summit on Saturday at Columbia Hope Church.

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“It was an idea of Eduardo’s (Crespi) and mine of just trying to find a way to educate the community on immigration issues,” Carrie Tyler said.

Carrie Tyler, legal access program coordinator and Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative for Centro Latino, and Eduardo Crespi, founder and director of Centro Latino, worked with other volunteers for about four months to plan the event.

According to 2006-2008 American Community Survey, 3.5 percent of Missouri's population is foreign-born. Neighboring states Kansas and Illinois were about 6 percent and about 13.7 percent, respectively. California had the largest with 27.1. The total number for the U.S. is about 12.5 percent.

Jennifer Rafanan, executive director of Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates, was one of the six speakers.

“I find that immigration is a topic that people care a lot about, feel a lot of ways about and don't know a lot about,” said Rafanan. “So I think that accounts for a lot of our public discourse on immigration.”

Although the majority of Missouri’s immigrant population is of Asian origin, we hear a lot more about the Latino and Hispanic immigrant population, Rafanan said.

“There are a variety of reasons, of course, why people migrate, but NAFTA is one of the main things we deal with,” she said.

Citing articles by Alfredo Sainez and Diane Solomon, Rafanan said the North American Free Trade Agreement caused the cost of basic foods to rise by 247 percent and the real value of the Mexican minimum wage drop 22 percent since 2000 and more since the trade agreement to $4.66 a day in 2007.

“They can’t really afford to produce against the exports from the U.S.,” said Rafanan. “People can’t feed their families, they’re losing their land, and eventually people are migrating to the border to work in maquilas, some of the factories.”

Thirty years ago, people looking for work in the U.S. on the border would walk across for work and walk back across after the workday was over. Now, Rafanan said, people are finding it too dangerous to walk back and forth.

According to the September 2010 Visa Bulletin, backlogs have extended into the 1990s for family-based visas. For Mexicans migrating under the first category of preference, people who applied in December of 1992 are still waiting in line to receive a visa.

“It’s not the same for Americans,” said Mayra Canales, an immigrant from Peru who has been here for almost five years. “They want to go to Mexico, they want to go to Peru, they want to go everywhere. They just need their passport.”

Gabriela Renteria-Poepsel, another immigrant from Mexico, stood next to her and nodded in agreement.

Canales said her sister who is a boss and has been working at the same place for 10 years was able to receive a visa, while her friend, who has a decent job and no criminal record, was denied.

Canales first came to the U.S. in 2004 on a student visa and she said her citizenship process was fortunate. After marrying her husband, who is an American citizen, they were able to prove it was an honest marriage.

Besides the long lines and the restrictive policies, Rafanan pointed out another reason people travel across the border without a visa.

“There's always the fact that there might be an immediate need to be here,” said Rafanan. “I mean are you going to wait five, six, seven years to be separated from your spouse or from your children?”

Allie Gassmann, a member of Parents as Teachers for the Columbia Public School District, was at the event. She works with many English as a second language parents and said she attended the summit so that she can present the information she learned to her colleagues. Gassmann said that it is important to address immigration because it is so politicized.

"I think people need to be educated about it,” she said.

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Dave Francis September 26, 2010 | 5:56 p.m.

The only way we can ever take back America, for the people is sending a resonant message to Congress that we mean--BUSINESS! NO MORE AMNESTIES! We must dismantle the old boy political power network, starting with the removal of—ALL-- incumbents. If you want to pay fewer taxes--we need to remove Sen. Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Janet Napolitano, Sen. Barbara Boxer and a list of incumbents on both sides of the aisle in Washington. Keep an eye on Senator Reid as he stealthily nearly tabled E-Verify and has been singularly involved in blocking the 287 (g) local police illegal alien detainment and other immigration power plays.Outside of the main corruption in the Capitol, state assemblies are out to build a nest egg for themselves. That’s why we need to view carefully the Governors, Mayors and other elected officials who are supposedly representing us and should be under the gun. Finally--it’s a repeat performance that if we vote in the same old lot, nothing will change.

There needs to be a contract with all new candidates, of no more "earmarks." These things are in most cases taxpayer money, which is squandered on many incomprehensible projects. In November be assured that unknown numbers of illegal aliens will try and keep their pro-amnesty endorser in power, so all States with low security in polling stations should be scrutinized. The absentee ballot is specifically easy to forge without officials addressing this situation. As I said previously, the "honor System" cannot be trusted as today we must demand government picture ID to prove you are a citizen and have a right to vote—not just a utility bill. Grade cards for incumbents on immigration can be evaluated at NumbersUSA. $113 Billion a year so says (FAIR) along with another $60 billion out the country, to foreign families. Nobody believes the lawmakers any more, as all the promises of enforcing illegal immigration has turned to bitter waters. The Sanctuary Cities and states like California are allowed to thrive, driving up taxes for its citizens. Even the Judicial branch is not fulfilling its duties to detain and deport all illegal aliens, they are just removing the criminals that taint America.

(Report Comment)
Dave Francis September 26, 2010 | 5:57 p.m.

My guess the majority of either parties, didn't read the Dream Act attachment? By the time it would be passed, somewhere between 2 to 4 million students of illegal alien Mothers would be involved. The quality of high school performance didn’t seem to be a pre-requisite? It would be a grand award for parents who fraudulently moved to the United States. One thing Reid didn't mention at all are those students legalized over 21 could sponsor their parents and immediate family circle. In addition even up to the age of fifteen you could still claim a visa under the Dream Act, even if you had just slid through the border. Senator Reid and top leadership cannot be trusted, as they will do anything to attract votes from the illegal minority population. Any promised Amnesty will attract people who didn't even think of leaving there home country, until they heard that the generous American politicians were implementing another green card rush.

We must be on our guard, as senator Reid may try to slip this law into the Senate once again, before November. Use the empowerment of your vote to demand that your US Senator does not vote for this Sen. Reid Dream Act by calling the Washington switchboard at 202-224-3121. The Public servants we voted into power, doesn't seem to exhibit any compassion for the 15 American workers out of work. This week-- a charade of summoning a comedian Stephen Colbert to Washington, to promote a path to citizenship for farm workers was madness and with better things to discuss? I think the whole situation was a prime embarrassment to all citizens. What did they hope to accomplish? If American non-skilled labor was paid wages they could live on, using more new generation machines to do the work of fifty, they would get more citizens hired?

My grandfather picked grapes before the Second World War and his two boys also helped out during the harvesting season in the hot sun. One thing none of should forget that the farmers do not pay for the health care treatment and the farm workers children's education, the US taxpayer does. Then while there here picking our fruit, vegetables any child born becomes an instant citizen.Females with multiple births can then claim citizenship for their infants and collect a whole lot of welfare benefits. This part of the 14th amendment has become a very expensive proposition for taxpayers. While citizens wait years to get on a list for low income housing, our government supply housing under section 8, food stamps, health care and a generous supply of welfare cash for each child. According to Pew Research Center there are approximately 8.5 million foreign nationals in jobs, citizens and legal residents should occupy.

(Report Comment)
Dave Francis September 26, 2010 | 5:58 p.m.


Let us make it very clear that anti-illegal immigration groups--the majority of them are not racist. The Tea Party is certainly--NOT--racists, as one can see in the mix of demonstrations; it’s composed of everybody who believes in the "Rule of Law." Which doesn’t mean just white people? In the 1986 an Amnesty was proposed in Congress by the late Ted Kennedy, who promised implicitly--NO--MORE—AMNESTIES prior to being enacted. Since just the 1990's there have been six small amnesties, under the radar, hoping that the general public didn’t realize it? Senator Harry Reid, speaker Pelosi and the mob of pro amnesty politicians, thinks the American people are stupid when attaching an immigration rider to the the War appropriations bill ten days ago. The Dream Act (The Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) had a limit under the house bill, but there are—NO- restrictions under Senator Reid, Dick Durbin who said nothing about people being able to be processed up to the age of 35, as being considered for citizenship under the Dream Act.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 26, 2010 | 6:03 p.m.

Legal immigration is fine.
Illegal invasion, from a foreign country onto USA soil, is a crime.
Whatever happaned to those "Trespassers Will Be Shot On Sight" signs?
And the smaller sign that read, "Survivors Will Be Shot Again?"
It's about time we viewed illegal crossings at our borders as a national security problem calling for military action. The USA is under seige at its borders and now within our states.
Americans having passports have nothing to do with the illegal alien problem.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 26, 2010 | 7:44 p.m.

Dave, ending earmarks won't make hardly a dent in the federal budget. Defense and entitlement programs are a far bigger budget-buster.

As for your claim that "the absentee ballot is specifically easy to forge" you might want to talk to county clerk Wendy Noren about that statement. I have a suspicion you might be incorrect about that.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 26, 2010 | 10:14 p.m.

There is, although there shouldn't be, some confusion as to what a passport represents.

A passport represents our government's permission for the passport holder to travel outside our country.

Having a passport does NOT guarantee that a foreign country will allow you to enter.

But don't most countries accept you for entry on the basis of a valid United States passport? Yes, but not all, nor is there any legal requirement that any of them must. It's generally in their best interests to do so (for tourism, business and other reasons). Reciprocity is good!

For some countries you must apply for a VISA (and we aren't talking about the credit card) BEFORE leaving home. Two examples of countries with visa requirements are Australia and Brazil.

A visa requires time and money, and can be a pain in the a** to obtain. Visas are issued by a country's embassy here in the United States and are pressure-heat affixed to an inside page of your passport. All the ones I've dealt with have specific expiration dates.

(Report Comment)
Cecilia Garza September 27, 2010 | 3:42 a.m.

For those who may be confused on the reference to passports in a quote by Mayra Canales:

Mrs. Canales is referring to passports as a comparison of the difficulties of travel in her home country with the U.S. Embassy. In Peru, for even tourism, immigrants who want to come to the U.S. must wait a lengthy period of time, pay fees, and endure interviews to receive a Visitor Visa: ( . On the other hand, U.S. citizens do not require a visa to travel to Peru and several other countries: ( .

(Report Comment)
Cecilia Garza September 27, 2010 | 3:52 a.m.

When I say they are not required to have a visa, I mean it is not a requirement for tourism travel. For an extended stay, it is.

(Report Comment)
Kate McIntyre September 27, 2010 | 2:30 p.m.

You're missing a word.

"Carrie Tyler, legal access program coordinator and Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative for Centro Latino, and Eduardo Crespi, founder and director of Centro Latino, worked with other volunteers for about four months to plan (THE) event."

Getting a jump on this October competition.

(Report Comment)
Chelsea Arnold September 27, 2010 | 4:27 p.m.

@Kate McIntyre

Thank you for pointing that out. It's been fixed.

Chelsea Arnold
Interactive copy desk

(Report Comment)

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