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Tag: legislation

REPOST: Getting to know thy neighbor (Sun-Times Media)

President Barack Obama’s announcement today reminded me of this article I wrote about a year ago, documenting suburban Chicagoan Jesse Oxford’s efforts to start “a media-driven, culture-shaping movement seeking to inspire and mobilize young evangelical Christians towards championing the needs of immigrants.” It’s called “UN-Documented,” and you can watch a short video, choose an experience and join the conversation about it on Oxford’s website, UnDocumented.tv.

No matter what your opinion on immigration policy, or the Obama administration’s plan to not deport some young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, it’s worth watching, experiencing and conversing about how that fits into how the Bible says we ought to love “the foreigner” (see Zechariah 7:10).

ELGIN — When David Miller glanced at his hand resting on the steering wheel of his car, it made him think twice.

The black, inky stamp on the back of his hand said “UN,” as in UN-documented, and it was part of an experience called “Become the Stranger” he organized at Judson University last week.

That experience asked participants to put themselves in the shoes of an undocumented immigrant for a day. They were to leave their identification at home and wear the stamp, both to encourage them to think about what that would mean and others to ask questions.

If he really were undocumented, Miller thought, would he risk driving over the speed limit, getting pulled over for speeding, being found without the proper documentation to be in the country?

Taking notes in class at Judson, the Algonquin resident glanced at his hands moving across the keyboard of his laptop.

If he really were undocumented, would he be able to afford that computer? He could have been a businessman in another country — but here, without documentation, he could be working as a “laborer,” he said.

“It makes me thankful for what I have. It’s so easy to take for granted,” Miller said.

“You grow up in Algonquin, you don’t think about this. I went to Dundee-Crown (in Carpentersville), but I was in band and all honors classes. It never occurred to me there are people walking in the hallways who are dealing with this.”

At the end of the day, he said, it made him frustrated more than anything: He had hoped the experience would spark conversation, but he had passed out only about 30 stamps to other students interested in participating. Only two people had asked him about the stamp on his hand. Nobody cared, he said.

That’s an experience an undocumented immigrant can relate to, said Jesse Oxford of East Dundee.

Oxford, who created the “Become the Stranger” experience around his eight-minute documentary “A New Dream,” pointed to a statistic from the Billy Graham Center: Less than one in 10 immigrants ever will be welcomed into the home of an American.

“That is an experience we are actually trying to change,” Oxford said.

For the rest of the story, read Getting to know thy neighbor (Sun-Times Media).

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Catching up after a full week in the Northwoods…

I spent most of the weekend catching up on sleep, and most of the workday Monday catching up on email after I spent the first week of June with my nonprofit, Hope for the First Nations, on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. I plan to write more about that trip Monday on the blog.

Meantime, here are all the articles I wrote that week and this week for my day job at Sun-Times Media:

Photo credit: File photo for Sun-Times Media.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Legislation, contracts, charter approved

I tried something new in May, wrapping up all my short stories for The Courier-News in one post at the end of the week so as not to overwhelm anybody’s feed reader. I think I’ll stick with the format. This past week was short one, but still a good example why. In addition to today’s cover story about the new Native Medicinal Garden at the Elgin Public Museum, I wrote:

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Hallelujah! The end of the U46 trial is in sight!

I’m trying something new this month, wrapping up all my short stories for The Courier-News in one post at the end of the week so as not to overwhelm anybody’s feed reader. This past week was a good illustration why that could be a good idea. What do you think of this format?

In addition to cover stories on prom and transportation funding, I wrote…

Photo credit: Jeff Cagle for Sun-Times Media.

Where will school bus funding stop next? (Sun-Times Media)

ELGIN — Natalie Olsen’s daughter finally was at the age that the Elgin mom didn’t have to worry about getting her to and from school. The South Elgin High School student was old enough to walk herself to and from her bus stop, Olsen said.

Then Elgin School District U46 changed the stops.

Those changes, made at the start of the school year, cut all bus stops for high school students. Instead, the district picks up and drops off those students at nearby elementary and middle schools.

For some students, that means walking up to 1.5 miles in the early morning hours, before the sun comes up during the dark winter months, to the nearest school. That included Olsen’s daughter, and that didn’t feel safe, she said.

“For us, that worked out great. My husband was able to take her on the way to work,” Olsen said.

“That’s not the case for everybody,” added Olsen, a member of U46’s Citizens Advisory Council.

That’s just one example of cuts that area school districts have made to services such as transportation in the past few years to save money as the state of Illinois has continued to cut and fall behind in its payments to districts.

And this spring, transportation funding once again was put on the chopping block as state lawmakers considered changes to the way Illinois reimburses school districts for transporting students.

“Overall, transportation funding has been and will continue to be an issue for School District U46,” said Tony Sanders, chief of staff for the district.

But, Chief Operations Officer Jeff King said, that’s just one of “a lot” of unknowns that Fox Valley school districts must factor into their budgets for the coming school year as they wait on action by the Illinois General Assembly.

“There are a lot of unknowns right now — a lot of big ones,” King said.

For the rest of the story, read Where will school bus funding stop next? (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.