Wednesday Dec. 27, 2017
A few of the Latino entrepreneurs in Ogden (clockwise from top left): Javier Chavez, Ana Maria Medina, Gustavo Ortega and Miguel Hernandez. By Tim Vandenack
OGDEN — Ana Maria Medina, who came to the United States from Mexico as a teen, brought by her mom, used to work the fields of California, picking strawberries.
It’s tough, hard work and she eventually moved on to cosmetology, working many years in the salons of others and now, finally, operating her own beauty shop in Ogden.
“She was already running the place where she was. Might as well run her own business,” said her daughter, Gabriela Valencia, who prodded her mom to take the leap. “She went from working in the fields with the strawberries to cleaning homes to being owner of a salon.”
Many in the sizable Latino population here may stick with service-sector and lower-paying jobs, but more and more are flexing their entrepreneurial muscles, launching their own businesses. U.S. Census Bureau numbers show an uptick and it’s the focus of a recent deep dive I did for the Standard-Examiner looking at local Hispanic business operators.
Those I spoke to came from humble backgrounds in Mexico, never saw business as an alternative when they were growing up. Here in the United States, though, they see the opportunity and have seized it:
The online version contains video of those I interviewed and colleague Sheila Wang gathered up some of the data (look here) that offers a glimpse into the Latino community here.
Sunday Oct. 8, 2017
Clarissa was born in Mexico, brought to Ogden as a young girl, but says the United States is home. She’s one of many left wondering what comes next after President Trump’s decision to eliminate DACA. By Tim Vandenack
OGDEN — They’re here lawfully, for now anyway.
But some of the formerly undocumented immigrants who have secured permission to remain in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative, approved under President Barack Obama, are still uncomfortable getting too much publicity. I spoke to two young Ogden women with DACA status in the wake of President Trump’s decision to halt the program, Gisela and Clarissa, but they only wanted their first names used, worried about backlash, chiefly to their undocumented parents.
That shows how touchy the immigration issue is. More significantly, though, their comments shed light on the people most impacted by Trump’s decision, young people who regard the United States as home but, because they were brought here illegally by their parents, live in a sort of limbo.
Here’s the story: Ogden immigrants worry after Trump axes DACA, say U.S., not Mexico, is home.
It’s a big topic in Ogden, as in many places, because of the heavy Latino and immigrant population here. Some are directly impacted, like Gisela and Clarissa. Others are impacted because it affects their immigrant friends and relatives.
Here’s another related story, written in the wake of Trump’s DACA decision: Ogden advocates fear DACA decision will push immigrants back into the shadows.
Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017
Rufino Bocel, who now lives in Centerville, came to the U.S. from Guatemala in 1991, in part to get away from the violence of the Guatemalan Civil War, then still simmering. He’s one of many I spoke to for a package of articles on Central Americans in Utah. By Tim Vandenack
OGDEN — Most of the Latinos in Utah (like the United States as a whole) have roots in Mexico.
But not all of them.
A subset in the Ogden area and Utah as a whole come from Central America, most notably El Salvador and Guatemala. I’ve long wanted to zero in on non-Mexican Latinos and finally put together a package for the Standard-Examiner.
It took several months, gathering information here and there, searching out contacts, visiting people. I attended services at three evangelical churches, which draw a fair number of Central Americans. I also ate at a Salvadoran restaurant here in Ogden, broke bread with a group at a Pentecostal church and dug into U.S. Census Bureau numbers and other data on killings (violence pushes many out of the region).
I knew that gang activity and the civil wars of the 1980s and 1990s have pushed many from Central America, but it was eye-opening hearing the stories over and over of violence. It’s a far cry from the sorts of stories I’ve heard from immigrants from Mexico, pushed largely by economic concerns (though that country has its fair share of violence, too).
Here’s what I pulled together:
SALVADORANS, CENTRAL AMERICANS COME TO UTAH FLEEING GANGS, VIOLENCE: The main story, offering the accounts of the violence many have faced before coming here to the United States, whether legally or illegally. “If I hadn’t come, they would’ve killed me,” Rafael Moreira told me, alluding to the gang threats he faced in El Salvador.
CENTRAL AMERICANS ON FOOD, GANGS AND BEING MISTAKENLY IDENTIFIED AS MEXICAN: This is a series of photos and quick observations from several of the people I interviewed. “Sometimes the customers ask, ‘Can’t you make tacos, burritos?’ We say, ‘No, sorry,’” said Luis Pineda, operator of an Ogden Salvadoran restaurant, La Cabañita Salvadoreña. “They ask us if we’re Mexican. We say, ‘No, we’re Salvadoran. We’re from El Salvador.’”
SALVADORAN WOMAN SEEKING ASYLUM SAYS UTAH OFFERS PROTECTION, PEACE OF MIND: This tells the story of Araceli, who faced extortion from Salvadoran gangs as the operator of a small clothes stand in a market and paid twice before closing her shop and coming to Utah with her family. “If you don’t give it to us, we know where you live,” one of gang members had threatened back in El Salvador.
Some of the people I met, things I saw in reporting a package of stories on Central Americans in the Ogden area and northern Utah for the Standard-Examiner. See the stories at Standard.net, Visuals.Standard.net. Clockwise from upper right: A woman during a service at Shalom Christian Church in Ogden, home to a large Salvadoran contingent; Ana Canenguez, left, and other women making pupusas, a Salvadoran food, in a south Ogden neighborhood; Rufino Bocel, originally from Guatemala, at the Light and Truth Pentecostal Christian Church in Ogden; Iris Mencia, originally from Honduras, now living in Riverdale, photographed in Ogden; and Marcos Candray, originally from El Salvador, at Shalom Christian Church, where he serves as pastor. #elsalvador #guatemala #honduras #utah #ogden #immigration
Sunday Feb. 26, 2017
Employees from Beto’s Mexican Food in Ogden pose outside the restaurant on Feb. 16, 2017, Day Without Immigrants. By Tim Vandenack
I’m now reporting from Ogden, Utah, for the Standard-Examiner, the local paper here. A big change from The Elkhart Truth in Indiana, but it’s exciting to be here and there’s plenty to write about.
I’m writing about the sizable Latino population and immigration — a particularly hot topic with President Trump‘s focus on the issue.
Here’s what I’ve written on the matter:
- “After protest, Ogden immigrants, advocates say fight for reform will continue,” Feb. 23, 2017.
- “As part of Day Without Immigrants protests, Ogden businesses close for the day,” Feb. 16, 2017.
- “Trump’s border wall talk spurs anxiety, resolve, dismay among Ogden Latinos,” Jan. 28, 2017.
Another unfolding story, in a decidedly different vein, has been the case of an expensive house built atop a rise in south Ogden that is gradually disintegrating, putting the home at risk.
Here’s what I’ve written:
Just last Friday, I visited a small community north of Ogden, Garland, to see how people there are coping with flooding, brought on by a particularly heavy accumulation of snow and quick melt-off last week when temperatures rose:
Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.
Wednesday Oct. 5, 2016
In this archive Elkhart Truth photo, an Elkhart police officer holds false identity cards confiscated by the department.
Stealing IDs takes a toll.
I wrote late last month (look at this blog entry) about an undocumented immigrant arrested for identity theft, Candida Rosete. She was brought here as a child by her parents, and she defended her place here, saying the United States is her country, even if she doesn’t have papers to be here.
It was in the context of a spate of arrests by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department of people who used fake IDs to get work and calls for tips about other suspected undocumented immigrants. The sheriff’s department actions generated a lot of criticism from immigrant advocates.
Last week I went for the other side of things and spoke to a man, Joshua Buelna, whose identity had been stolen by an undocumented immigrant. Life has been terrible for him, and he ultimately had to file bankruptcy because of all the debt incurred illegally in his name. Others used his Social Security number to rent homes, get cars, acquire mobile phone contracts and more and he was left to deal with the fallout after they skipped out on the bills.
As with the first story about Candida, the story about Joshua generated a strong response, many sympathetic with his plight:
Monday Sept. 26, 2016
Candida Rosete was one of several suspects arrested by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department for charges related to identity fraud for using false documents to get work. The arrests have generated criticism from immigrant advocates. By Tim Vandenack
With a sizable population of Latino newcomers here, many from Mexico, immigration is a big topic in Elkhart County.
There are many advocates for Latinos and, on the flip side, many who clamor for stronger action against undocumented immigrants. Thus, when the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department started cracking down on suspected undocumented immigrants, asking for tips via Facebook, the issue escalated.
We in the newsroom had been noticing a steady stream of arrests of people allegedly using fake and fraudulent identity cards and we jumped on it, tying it to the Facebook posts. Many in the Latino community had also noticed, and I pulled together a story, contrasting criticism of Latino advocates who saw the law enforcement action as overzealous and Sheriff Brad Rogers, who defended the moves as upholding the law and standing up for victims of identity theft:
I got a lead on one of the women arrested, Candida Rosete, and followed that story with a piece on her, offering up her viewpoint of being undocumented. Now, 36, she was brought here when she was 6-years-old, has a 15-year-old U.S.-b0rn son and sees the United States as her home:
Even Univision, the Spanish-language television, jumped on the issue.
I’m now working on a story offering up the perspective of those who have had their identities stolen, the hassles and problems they face.
Wednesday June 29, 2016
Some of the people I spoke to for The Elkhart Truth series, “Hispanics at Home?” By Tim Vandenack
By now, Hispanics have a well-established presence in Elkhart County.
Aiming to take a closer look at the segment, but wanting to do more than state the obvious — that they’re an increasing share of the population — we took another approach. We’d try to get a sense of how connected the Latino newcomers feel in Elkhart, Goshen and the rest of Elkhart County.
The end result — “Hispanics at Home?”, a three-part series that ran in The Elkhart Truth last month. I helped craft the approach, but it was a team effort, largely involving myself, reporter Sharon Hernandez and Managing Editor Mark Maley. A group of Goshen College journalism students also contributed plenty of material.
A few takeaways:
- Latinos have their own tight-knit community, their neighborhoods, their stores. Latinos have Spanish-language churches, there’s even a soccer league that caters to a largely-Hispanic population. That tends to create a sense of two parallel worlds.
- Still, many leaders have emerged and are emerging, trying to raise the voice of Latinos, get them more involved in the broader community.
- Younger Latinos, comfortable in both the Anglo and Hispanic cultures, bilingual, are increasingly feeling at home here, even if they were born in Mexico or elsewhere in Latin America.
I wrote several stories, shot video and did plenty of social media along the way. I crunched a ton of U.S. Census Bureau figures, which helped document the growth of the segment, where Latinos live and the nature of the population (native or foreign-born, their roots in Latin America). Some of my highlights:
- “Despite advances, integration of Hispanics remains a work in progress in Elkhart County,” May 14, 2016
- “Latinos live in parallel worlds as they forge a place here,” May 14, 2016
- “Undocumented status keeps some immigrants peering in from the outside,” May 21, 2016
- “How do you fix nation’s broken immigration system?”, May 21, 2016
- VIDEO: “Mexican, American, both?”, May 14, 2016
- DATA: “Elkhart’s Shifting Demographics: More Latinos, Fewer whites”
Here’s a promo video I put together to tease the package before its launch:
The immigration issue is big in Elkhart County and the rest of the United States. It’s an issue that draws me, having lived in Latin America, origin of many immigrants here, and I’ve written a lot about it over the years.
Sunday Jan. 10, 2016
The detentions of 121 undocumented immigrants by federal immigration officials, announced Jan. 4, 2016, caused the jitters among Elkhart County immigrants. Elkhart County immigration attorney Felipe Merino discusses immigration issues at a Nov. 25, 2014, presentation in this archive photo. By Tim Vandenack
On Monday Jan. 4, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced the detention of 121 undocumented immigrants in an operation over the prior weekend. He said more action, focused on undocumented Central Americans, could be forthcoming.
That, plus earlier talk of such action, spurred nervousness in the Hispanic and immigrant community in Elkhart County. I received word that evening of Jan. 4 of a supposed raid, ongoing, by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials at an apartment complex in south Elkhart and went. Nothing.
Still, talk was rampant on Facebook and elsewhere about supposed ICE action, the fear of ICE action, and I looked into it, getting in touch with a pair of immigration attorneys and an ICE official, among others. Here’s the story that resulted:
“People are frantic right now,” one immigration attorney told me. “I have folks all over that are on the edge right now.”
Turns out a local law enforcement unit that also goes by the acronym ICE (focused on drug dealers, not undocumented immigrants) had conducted an operation at the south Elkhart complex. They arrested a Hispanic man, but on drug charges, not immigration violations.