Chicago Sun-Times Latest news from the Chicago Sun-Times Online en-us (Editor) Newspapers Chicago Sun-Times 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Playing for dollars, smiles at O’Hare ]]> Lead story image

Long before sunrise, Sharon Dawn Middleton gets out of bed to pile on layers of clothing for her commute to O’Hare Airport from her Northwest Side home. Middleton, 74, catches a 5 a.m. bus, then the Blue Line L for her gig as a street musician on O’Hare’s ground floor. She would like to arrive earlier, but there is no earlier bus. Bitter cold doesn’t deter her; she showed me a nifty vest she wears with battery-operated warmers, “a dandy thing to have” to combat subfreezing temperatures, she said. In the airport, Middleton sets up a short camping stool, a … ]]> Fri, 19 Dec 2014 00:25:48 -0600 <![CDATA[ A busy and special life on the run ]]> Lead story image

Banners once swayed at Soldier Field to commemorate the inaugural Special Olympics summer games held in that stadium in 1968 with more than 1,000 competitors. One poster featured an almost life-size photograph of an 11-year-old girl, Amelia Hernandez, sprinting to victory in the 50-yard dash, her feet a few inches off the ground. That banner now hangs in the gymnasium at Piotrowski Park in Little Village, where Hernandez is still at it 46 years later, training for Special Olympics competitions. “I never quit,” Hernandez said. “I just keep going.” Special Olympics has athletic events for intellectually challenged children as well … ]]> Fri, 05 Dec 2014 11:23:33 -0600 <![CDATA[ There’s an art to making artists ]]> Lead story image

A group of curious teenage art students jotted down notes at the Garfield Park studio of Karolina Gnatowski as the artist talked about her installation pieces and the musicians who inspired them. A few teens scribbled reminders to look up rock stars Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin and Jim Morrison of The Doors on Google. The musicians and their bands are iconic figures to generations of fans but new to some young millennials. The generational gap became insignificant as the teens absorbed Gnatowski’s informal lecture on her work with fabrics and fibers as well as the research that goes into … ]]> Fri, 28 Nov 2014 02:16:45 -0600 <![CDATA[ A personal crusade against deportation ]]> Lead story image

When Alejandra Renteria began attending rallies for immigration reform years ago alongside her mother, the significance of the movement didn’t register with her young mind. After her father was deported to Mexico four years ago, the crusade became more personal. “I started going to more things,” Renteria, 17, of the Southwest Side, told me. “If I want something to change, and I’m not personally doing something about it, nothing is ever going to happen.” Change is coming. “Finally,” Renteria said of news of executive action by President Obama that is expected to allow millions of undocumented immigrants to live and … ]]> Mon, 24 Nov 2014 12:12:06 -0600 <![CDATA[ ‘Have you experienced desperation?’ ]]> Lead story image

As the skyrocketing number of migrant children fleeing Central America for the U.S. attracted substantial news coverage in the summer, American government officials offered a plausible explanation for the illegal migration. They attributed it to widespread rumors in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador of unaccompanied minors and parents with young children gaining legal entry to the U.S. If only it were that simple. Yes, misinformation played a role but it was small compared with a more dire reality: Pervasive violent crime engulfing those regions leaves children desperate for a way out. That was the view of experts at a Loyola … ]]> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 06:17:47 -0600 <![CDATA[ Obama falls short on immigration ]]> Lead story image

We know politicians will say just about anything to get elected. A hallow promise in a slick marketing campaign can be dismissed with a shrug or an eye roll. Sometimes unfulfilled promises come back to haunt, creating uncomfortable moments for those who made them. That is happening to President Obama, who remains notably unpopular with immigration reform advocates, even as he prepares to use his executive authority to address a broken immigration system and risks backlash from Republicans now controlling the Senate and the House. Wednesday, Obama affirmed he will issue an order by year’s end to allow some undocumented … ]]> Mon, 08 Dec 2014 10:21:13 -0600 <![CDATA[ Students not legal — but superb ]]> Lead story image

A few years ago Dr. Mark Kuczewski of Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine heard from a West Coast math professor with a dilemma on his hands. The professor, Herbert Medina, had mentored a star student at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles who wanted to become a doctor. Although the student was raised in the U.S., she was not a legal resident. At the time medical schools were not accepting such students. “The student was phenomenal,” Medina said by phone. “Had she been a permanent resident, medical schools would be knocking on her door.” After that, Kuczewski, chairman of medical education … ]]> Mon, 01 Dec 2014 17:33:12 -0600 <![CDATA[ Will Obama do right by immigrants? ]]> Lead story image

As midterm elections near the finish line, there is a self-imposed, not-so-concrete deadline approaching for President Barack Obama. By Thanksgiving or Christmas, we should know what kind of relief he will extend to millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. How many will qualify under the highly anticipated order, which was expected last month before the White House kicked it down the road to steer clear of the elections, is being debated. Advocates for immigration reform have said since last year that Obama can and should stop deporting those who meet the requirements for legal residency under the Border Security, … ]]> Tue, 25 Nov 2014 06:23:40 -0600 <![CDATA[ Country says ‘you can’t be a family’ ]]> Lead story image

Shortly after Amy Godoy-Guerra married husband Carlos in 2007, the couple sought to remedy Carlos’ status as an undocumented immigrant. Carlos’ best chance to obtain legal U.S. residency required the end of his unlawful stay here, and the couple decided to ride out the wait for his green card together by living and working in other countries. Stops included Spain, Mexico and South Korea. Seven years later, they live in separate countries. She’s back in West Chicago, and he’s in Mexico. They are still in love and resolute on being together, yet drained financially and emotionally as they continue maneuvering … ]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 06:22:53 -0600 <![CDATA[ Mexico’s shame shades its beauty ]]> Lead story image

There is beauty throughout Mexico. From the cactus plants in the north to the palm trees in the south and the Sierra Madre Mountains that stretch through the country, I have seen its beauty up close. I have walked along dirt roads thinking this is how the Earth is supposed to smell: dewy all day long. I have been on Mexico’s city streets reeking of car pollution, noticing the hurried life, which is a lot like our urban areas. Women hold their purses a little tighter in such places. Maybe because Mexico isn’t too far removed from being a third-world … ]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 02:02:01 -0600 <![CDATA[ ‘Somebody is thinking about them’ ]]> Lead story image

Outside the immigrant detention facility in Broadview, Minister Bobby Lawson of Matteson approaches distraught families who bring clothes and money to loved ones about to be deported. He meets them at their cars. “Habla Ingles?” he asks them. He speaks a little Spanish, he tells them. He will walk with them to the facility’s door and remind them they cannot enter with purses or cellphones. Mostly, he is there in case they need to lean on someone. Some families have driven through the night from other states. They will have maybe a minute, no more, to say goodbye. All they … ]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 06:16:50 -0600 <![CDATA[ Making a fresh start in Little Village ]]> Lead story image

The question is routine, appearing on just about every job application. “Have you been convicted of any law violation (except a minor traffic violation)?” I pulled that one from a fast-food restaurant application, but anyone who has applied for a job, whether it’s entry level or high level, has seen a variation of the question. A “yes” response is likely to doom the applicant. Even an arrest is likely to show up on a background check and could affect whether someone is promoted or hired, though in many cases it is illegal for employers to use arrest records to gauge … ]]> Mon, 27 Oct 2014 17:55:00 -0600 <![CDATA[ Something smells in Little Village ]]> Lead story image

If not for its unbearable stench, Collateral Channel would go unnoticed in Little Village. Covered by trees and brush, the slip of water on the north side of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal is barely visible to traffic along 31st Street near Cook County Jail. But residents who live nearby cannot escape the smell produced by sewer overflows and a century of pollution. Hot, muggy days are the worst; windy days bring a respite. “If it’s not windy, you can smell everything,” said Ruben Quintero, 70, who lives on Albany Avenue near 31st. “If there are dead animals in … ]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:29:35 -0600 <![CDATA[ They won’t quit immigration reform ]]> Lead story image

Ashley Moy-Wooten spent her own money and on her own time raced to the Iowa caucuses in 2008 to rally support for Barack Obama, then running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. “We believed he was different,” Moy-Wooten, 31, said this week. “We were inspired.” Additionally, Moy-Wooten helped the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights register 10,000 voters before that presidential election. “Why did we do this?” an anguished Moy-Wooten, a senior organizer for the west suburban action group PASO, said Wednesday. “We believed we were going to get immigration reform. He said he would do it.” … ]]> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 11:25:47 -0600 <![CDATA[ Blindness doesn’t slow 9/11 survivor ]]> Lead story image

Michael Blizzard Hingson was born in Chicago during a snowstorm. That’s how his parents came up with his middle name. His parents gave him an ordinary life in Chicago and later in California. He played outside with cousins and was roughed up by an older brother, attended public school and rode his bike cheerfully around his neighborhood. Ordinary things. Yet, to outsiders he was viewed as an extraordinary boy because he was blind. At 64, he is an advocate and unofficial spokesperson for the blind. He gives lectures all over the world. He can talk about the staggering unemployment rate … ]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 06:22:26 -0600 <![CDATA[ Heavy young men get labeled ]]> Lead story image

Devonte Washington, in his second year at Kennedy-King College on the South Side, hauls a backpack in Army camouflage colors when he goes to school. It looks like an itty-bitty thing against his imposing 6-foot-2-inch, heavy frame, and it is useful for more than carrying books. It alters his image. “Nobody bothers me when I have my book bag,” Washington, who is black, said after leaving Kennedy-King on Wednesday. “I don’t get a second glance.” Without his book bag, he might get a suspicious look from police patrolling the neighborhood, but that probably also depends on what he’s wearing and … ]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:10:36 -0600 <![CDATA[ College dorm in Pilsen says ‘hola’ ]]> Lead story image

Polo Briones got a reasonably priced alternative to campus housing when the senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago moved to La Casa, a college dormitory in Pilsen for students attending colleges all over the city. The internship he landed was a nice bonus. Briones’ aspirations to be an urban planner resonated with staff members at the Resurrection Project and led to his hiring at the Pilsen nonprofit. La Casa was opened two years ago for students who cannot afford the steep price of living on their college campuses and have grown tired of long commutes. “I’m learning about … ]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 06:27:13 -0600 <![CDATA[ English first? No law is necessary ]]> Lead story image

I’ll never forget the first time I realized my Spanish skills were eroding. I look back on it with humor and regret. My father was dying but had not stated his burial wishes. I needed to find out if he wanted a burial or cremation. Our relationship was a bit formal; he could be tough to approach. Shortly after initiating the conversation, I flubbed my words because I didn’t know how to say cremation in Spanish. “I don’t know what you want, Dad,” I told him in Spanish. “Mom says she wants to be burned when she dies.” I said … ]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 06:35:02 -0600