The Immigrant Dream

Editor’s note: The names in this story have been altered to protect the subject’s identity.

“Imagine living the past 18 years in fear of whatever you do wrong you get kicked out of your own home,” he said.

For the many children who are not officially documented citizens in the United States, this is a very real fear. Despite not holding American citizenship, immigrant children often live like average Americans. They go to school, they spend time with their friends, and they eventually get jobs. Yet for these immigrant children, the persistent fear that anything they do wrong, no matter how inconsequential, could result in the deportation of them and their families, is an always looming concern. This is the reality that Esteban, 22, has lived with for more than 18 years.

On the surface, Esteban’s life seems to be that of a normal American.

“I really enjoy watching shows on Netflix like Daredevil, and playing NBA 2K games on my PS4 when I have some free time,” Esteban said. “I also try to keep a healthy fitness routine by going to the gym and doing some weight lifting several times a week.” Since 2015, Esteban has been pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science at Purdue University Fort Wayne. “I was immediately drawn to programming because I saw it as using digital Lego blocks. I was into Legos at a young age so it was very appealing to me,” Esteban said. Currently, Esteban is an intern at Lenovo Software, applying and expanding his programming education as a member of their build and install team. None of this however, is indicative of the daily burden he carries regarding his citizenship status.

Born in South America, Esteban has been living in the United States with his family since they immigrated to the U.S. in 2001. “I do have some memories of living in South America, but living here is the only life I have a real memory of,” Esteban stated. “I remember feeling confused at the time. I wasn’t sure exactly what was going on at first.”

Although it was only his second visit to the U.S., Esteban and his family would not return to South America. At that time Esteban would have fallen under the proposed DREAM Act, which according to the American Immigration Council meant that as a young immigrant he would have eventually been eligible for citizenship through a three-step process. This however is no longer relevant to Esteban’s circumstance since he now has a U visa.

Ever since moving to the United States, Esteban and his parents have been making efforts to become official citizens. However, in early 2013, Esteban’s journey to citizenship took a dramatic, although unfortunate turn. Esteban’s mother was victim to a robbery and stabbing. His mother’s injuries required her to undergo many extensive surgeries and the effects of the attack have stayed with her ever since. As a result of the attack, Esteban’s mother became eligible for a green card, per a section of U.S. immigration law. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. immigration law allows non-citizens who have been victims of certain crimes to get a Green Card. Esteban and his parents are now residing under a U visa which allows them to apply for residency.

During Esteban’s junior year of high school, his family met lawyers who offered their services at no cost to him and his family, eventually getting them official work visas. They are currently in the process of applying for residency; a process that requires many documents and much patience. For this process, the government needs proof of residency, passports, pay stubs, tax records, school records, medical certificates/ examinations and any other identifying documents the applicants may have. Presently, Esteban is in the process of getting his Documento Nacional de Identidad, or DNI, which is a national identity document for citizens from South America. After getting his DNI, Esteban then must go to Chicago to renew his passport. Once that is complete, Esteban and his parents present their documents to their lawyers, who then continue the process by presenting the documents to the immigration center.

“After that it’s pretty much just a waiting game,” Esteban said. His citizenship status is still working against him. “I was taught that life is always going to kick you in the butt, especially since you’re from another country, but you have to make the best of the worst situation.”

In spite of the difficult process, Esteban says he wouldn’t change anything since his efforts are worth the reward. “I’ll be one step closer to living a normal life.”

A normal life like that of his younger brother Theo, 17, who is an American citizen by birth. Theo thinks very highly of his older brother.

“Esteban is a great guy. He likes to help people a lot and lends a hand when it’s needed. He’s a happy guy in general with an overall positive outlook and a family first mentality,” Theo said.

Theo, currently in his junior year of high school, looks to Esteban for wisdom and guidance. “Esteban is my biggest role model in life. He is very relatable because he’s gone through the same things that I am going through. He would drop everything and help me out if I needed it.”

One of Esteban’s close friends, Scott, 22, related how Esteban inspires him. “He inspires me to do better in life because he has it harder in life and has lived in fear of being deported. I admire his willpower. He pushes through a lot to get to what he wants to do,” Scott said. “Esteban is also extremely reliable and I like that in a friend. I enjoy his humor, wit, athleticism and he is just an all-around good guy.”

Although Esteban and his parents are in the process of applying for residency, their non-legal status remains a lingering concern. Fortunately for Esteban, his U visa allows him to continue to legally work in the United States. Ultimately, Esteban is not someone who is defined by his citizenship status. His brother Theo certainly agrees.

“I don’t think it will slow him down in any way. Esteban is determined. He is a hard worker in general and since he isn’t a natural citizen it makes him more determined to succeed. I feel that it may be a driving force behind his success.”

The 97 Percent

Planned Parenthood has been providing a range of health services to men and women for 100 years.

The clinic offers much more than abortion services, including birth control, general health care, HIV testing, LGBT services, STD testing, and men’s health care. In fact, men make up 11 percent of Planned Parenthood’s patients according its website. In 2015, nearly 650 Planned Parenthood centers served 2.4 million men, women and youth.

This is despite an effort to defund Planned Parenthoodsin the U.S. In 2015, nine states eliminated Planned Parenthood from public health programs, according to its website.

The opposition also hits home. Abigail Lorenzen is the operationsand media director for Allen County Right to Life, which coordinates the 40 Days for Life campaign in Fort Wayne.

The campaign has three pillars: prayer, presence, and community awareness. Lorenzen said the presence aspect requires participants to be present and pray in front of an abortion clinic.

She said there is at least one person praying at an abortion clinic every day during the campaign and that their presence raises awareness about the issues behind abortion.

Lorenzen said they protest in front of the Fort Wayne Planned Parenthood because although the location does not provide on-site abortions, they refer patients to other Planned Parenthoods that do. Yet according to the Planned Parenthood website, only three percent of their services nationally are abortions.

I Stand With Planned Parenthood protest and counter-protest, Feb. 2017

IPFW senior Sylvia Rusk, a communication and political science major from Fort Wayne, has used these other services offered at Fort Wayne’s Planned Parenthood. Rusk said she went to Planned Parenthood to get contraception after her general practitioner refused to provide her birth control based on their religious beliefs.

Rusk said she had a positive experience at Planned Parenthood, as they were informative and explained the process to her.

IPFW senior Nicole Sanders is an English and women’s studies major from Fort Wayne and is the treasurer for IPFW Generation Action, formerly IPFW Voices of Choice. They are a Planned Parenthood affiliated group that is working to educate students about reproductive health.

IPFW Generation Action hosts events such as “condoms and candy,” where they hand out contraceptives and informational pamphlets about services that Planned Parenthood provides.

Nicole said she advocates for Planned Parenthood because she had a negative experience at her family doctor after getting a pap smear when she was only 16.

“I wish I had had information about Planned Parenthood,” Sanders said. “If I was able to go there, they would have been more gentle, more understanding, and they would not have put me through a physical examination that I was not ready for.”

Fourth Annual North Anthony Corridor Block Party

Dozens of community members gathered in the streets for the fourth annual  North Anthony Corridor Block Party on Sept. 10.

The free, family friendly block party was held in the North Anthony Corridor, the triangle formed by North Anthony Boulevard, Crescent Avenue, and Coliseum Boulevard East.

The party ran from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and had activities like miniature golf, photo booths, and face-painting.

Community Member Erin Brady, who lives near the North Anthony Corridor, attended the block party for the first time this year to see the live local music.

nickel“The development of this neighborhood over the last two years has really started,” Erin said. “The nice sm

all, little local shops that we have here gives people a chance to come and really see what’s in the neighborhood.”

Long-time local record store, the Wooden Nickel, hosted three bands in front of their North Anthony location from 2 to 6 p.m.

The Windows, a group of teens with one member as young as 13, began their set at 3 p.m., and played a variety of covers, including songs from The Velvet Underground and original songs.

All of the members of the band are in high school, and one is still in middle school. Dylan Record, singer and rhythm-guitarist, said they play post-punk and new-wave, and are currently working on new original music.

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Bob Roets

Bob Roets, owner of the Wooden Nickel, has hosted different bands at the block party all four years.

Bob said they pick teenage and college-age bands for the block party, to draw in more families.

Bob said there were about 200 people in attendance at one point this year, and sales were way up from last year. He plans to continue hosting the bands.

“I’m really happy with where it’s going,” Bob said. “It gets bigger and better every year.”

MGMT Headlines Middle Waves Music Festival

Fort Wayne’s Middle Waves Music Festival brought hundreds to Headwaters Park over the weekend.

The two-day festival had three stages packed with a blend of both local and international artists. This year, award-winning band MGMT closed out the festival Saturday night at the St. Mary’s Stage.

The band played some of their most popular hits, including “Kids,” “Time to Pretend,” and ended with “Electric Feel.”

 

IPFW Hopes to Pass Banded Tuition Proposal

Back in August of 2014, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education released a resolution to aid college students to graduate in four years.

The campaign urged undergraduate students to take at least 15 credit hours per semester.

Universities pushed for this by introducing something called banded tuition.

Angela Williams, the director of online and credit programs at IPFW, said banded tuition, if passed, would begin during the fall semester of 2018.

“We are one of the only schools right now that does not have banded tuition,” Williams said. “And with the online courses being the same price, well, that is a huge benefit to students.”

Besides IPFW, only a few other public institutions in the state of Indiana have not switched over to the banded tuition model, Williams said.

Diana Jackson, director of administrative business services at Indiana – Purdue Fort Wayne, explained banded tuition as a flat rate students pay instead of per-credit-hour.

“The band we are proposing will begin at 12 to 18 credit hours, so if you take anything in that band you are going to pay the same amount no matter what you take,” Jackson said. “It is just a set amount of tuition and the mandatory fees that students are required to take.”

Students who wish to take less than 12 credit hours a semester will continue to pay per-credit-hour, while those who would take more than 18 would pay the banded tuition plus per-credit hour for however many credits they would additionally take.

In this proposal, banded tuition will be roughly around $4,120.50, Jackson said.

However, banded tuition will not apply to graduate students or summer courses. Both would be paid per-credit-hour.

Additionally, the proposal is also planning to eliminate the cost difference between traditional courses and online courses. As of spring semester 2017 that difference was $92.95 per-credit-hour.

Under the banded tuition model, the online differential fee will no longer exist. Instead Jackson said a student could take 15 credit hours of just online courses and pay the same as if they were traditional courses.

According to Jackson, the Higher Education Commission had been pushing the banded tuition idea to universities.

“They really want kids to understand that in order to graduate in four years, which is what they really want,” Jackson said, “students really have to take 15 credit hours a semester in order to do that.”

Even though the model is still in the proposal stage and most of the faculty has heard about it, most students were at a lost when it was mentioned to them.

Linnize Richner, freshman biology major, had no prior knowledge of this proposal or what banded tuition meant. Yet, after learning about the idea and what it entailed she said it would be a good thing.

“I know a lot of students, myself included, hate the price difference for online courses,” Richner said. “I feel this could really help with that and stop putting limitations on certain students from being able to take a desired course because of the cost difference.”

Currently banded tuition is still just a proposal at IPFW and will go before the board of trustees in the coming months to make a final decision.

Jackson has no worries that the plan will pass.

“I do think it will happen,” Jackson said. “It will help a lot of students out and they’ll know every semester how much their tuition will be not matter what form of class they are taking.”

Hybrid Courses Gain Interest at IPFW

IPFW will be offering over 50 hybrid courses in the fall of 2017 ranging from topics over engineering economy to romantic literature.

Hybrid courses are designed to have online interaction while combining face-to-face instruction at the same time.

With 28 percent of students enrolled in higher education taking a form of distance learning, according to Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Distance Education Enrollment Report of 2016, hybrid classes are becoming increasingly popular for their unusual structure than the typical online courses.

James Hess, a business professor at IPFW, is currently in his fifth year teaching hybrid courses and said he thinks there are both positive and negative attributes of the course.

One of the positives is hybrid courses meet half of the time in a classroom on campus and the other half online.

“Well, one plus is we only have to be here once a week, that itself can save people a lot of rear-end collisions,” Hess said with a chuckle. “The drawback is sometimes it can take more time to really focus on the foundational elements of a class then what we are allotted when we only meet 50 percent of the time.”

Students enrolled in Hess’ International Business Administration class meet once a week on Mondays, and during the class, he conducts a discussion with the students.

Following the meeting, the class is assigned a discussion board due on Wednesday nights that poses a question based off a topic discussed in class, as well as a current event each week.

Tanya Stier, a business marketing major enrolled in Hess’ course said hybrid courses are more beneficial for students than strictly online classes.

“Sometimes with just regular online courses it’s hard to convey a question or fully understand the material,” Stier said. “When you have the ability to see the professor you can ask your questions and have the professor explain it in person, which I think can be clearer than just asking over an email”.

Brittany Akins, another student in the course, said she has to give credit to Hess for how he organized the course and ties the lectures together with the assignments.

“He makes it relevant and worth my time rather than being a monotonous lecture two or three times a week, which can get overbearing,” Akins said. “We have assignments that are actually related to the lecture that we can do on our own time during the week.”

Akins continued to say the cost of a hybrid course did not bother her because she knows what she is getting out of it. However there was one aspect of the class that bothered her.

“I hate that in this class the book was included,” Akins said. “I could have bought the book for a lot less online. Instead they charge whatever the book price is into the cost of the class without giving us an option to buy it for less.”

Besides for the few unexpected costs, Hess recalled a time when hybrid courses first began and how he sees the future for them.

“At first I thought that by going hybrid, it gave universities a chance to experiment with classes that are traditionally meeting face-to-face all the time, a chance to cut back on some of that,” Hess said. “Yet, now I’m wondering if this is just something universities toy with right now and eventually everything will just go completely online.”