Dispelling Immigration Myths Feb. 22

Green Card Stories author and a panel of experts discuss “The Face of Immigration and Reform.”

 

 

Saundra Amrhein, the author of Green Card Stories, is a USF alumna and current graduate student majoring in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

 

By Barbara Melendez

USF News

 

TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 20, 2012) – Though certainly not for the first time in history, this nation of immigrants and descendants of immigrants is reacting strongly to the latest waves of people seeking to start new lives in the United States.

 

The welcome mat comes and goes with the economic and political climate.

 

To discuss immigration and the controversies swirling around it, journalist Saundra Amrhein, the author of Green Card Stories and a USF alumna – will present her book and participate in a panel discussion – “The Face of Immigration and Reform” – at the University of South Florida, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. One of the people featured in her book will be on hand along with a prominent local immigration lawyer.

 

This event is free and open to the public and takes place in the Patel Center for Global Solutions (CGS) Room 131. It is hosted by the USF Institute for the Study of Latin America and the Caribbean (ISLAC), the USF Institute on Black Life, the Migration and Diaspora Research Cluster, the USF Department of Sociology and the book’s publisher, Umbrage. The book will be on sale and light refreshments will be served.

 

Green Card Stories presents 50 recent U.S. immigrants from all walks of life in dramatic essays accompanied by portraits taken by award-winning photographer Ariana Lindquist. 

 

Amrhein has been a journalist for more than 17 years. She reported on government and general news with a special focus on immigration issues in her 10 years with the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times).  She is currently working towards a master’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at USF. Her thesis encompasses years of research in Cuba on music and social change.  She is scheduled to graduate in December.

 

For the panel discussion Amrhein will be joined by attorney B. John Ovink, USF Assistant Professor Angela Stuesse and Cleto “Sundy” Chazares, a former migrant worker and current Hillsborough County high school principal.  Chazares is featured in the book.

 

Stuesse, in the Department of Anthropology, is the co-founder of USF’s new Migration and Diaspora Research Cluster, an event co-sponsor. The cluster grew out of an ISLAC working group that was put together to plan public talks and events in 2011. In its new form it will continue to do so.  

 

“We’re a group of faculty and graduate students from across the university who share a common interest in migration and diaspora research,” she said. “We’re exchanging ideas, resources, scholarship and any related opportunities we find. We’re building a community that has already attracted about 30 people so far and we welcome participation from all disciplines. We have people from education, public health, and various parts of arts and sciences, of course.”

 

Some of the research areas that have drawn attention are racial and ethnic identification, health disparities, labor organizing, education and social stratification.

 

Stuesse teaches a course on work and migration and with the support of a National Science Foundation grant is researching the impact of federal and local law enforcement on immigrant populations in collaboration with geographer Mathew Coleman from The Ohio State University and USF Anthropology graduate student Nolan Kline.

 

On the Feb. 22 panel, she will “help frame the issue of immigration within larger structures of globalization,” Stuesse said. “I think it’s important to grapple with how conditions are created that privilege certain groups of people and disadvantage others, and how this impacts global migration patterns and experiences of low-wage work.”

 

One of two immigrants on the panel, Ovink, from the Netherlands, has been practicing immigrant law in Tampa since 1966. His clients have come from over 50 countries and now live throughout the country in a dozen different states.  His experiences – both personal and professional – have moved him to champion immigration reform and he frequently lobbies members of Congress in Washington, D.C. on this issue.

 

A far less recent immigrant, Chazares is the principal at Simmons Career Center in Plant City, an alternative high school.  He has worked as a school community specialist, an assistant principal, an alternative education teacher and migrant dropout prevention specialist.  Chazares came to the U.S. with his family when he was a child, crossing over into Texas from Mexico.  Another USF alumnus, he earned a master’s degree and was recently voted Hillsborough High School Principal of the Year by the Hillsborough Counselor’s Association.

 

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.