Tag: WNYC New York Public Radio

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Mortgage Modification Swindlers Prey on Desperate Homeowners in Hispanic Area in Brooklyn

After President Obama announced a $75 billion plan for homeowners in distress, shady companies started offering Bushwick residents help with their mortgage modifications… for a fee.

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Immigration Reform Postponed ’till 2010: FI2W’s Diego Graglia on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show

Following President Barack Obama’s announcement postponing Congressional action on immigration reform until next year and the outcry from immigration activists, Feet in 2 Worlds web editor Diego Graglia appeared Monday on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, New York Public Radio, to discuss the situation.

Also featured was Amy Gottlieb, director of the Immigrant Rights Program at the American Friends Service Committee, who talked about problems with the immigration detention system.

You can listen to the segment here or visit the show’s page.

[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/bl/bl081709dpod.mp3]
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In Memoriam: Frank McCourt – A New Yorker With Feet in Two Worlds

He was born in New York, reared in Limerick, Ireland, and then returned to the U.S. as a young man. After decades as a public school teacher, fame found him when he published Angela’s Ashes, a Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir of growing up in a poor Irish family. Even in his later years he had “unfinished emotional business” with the city of his childhood.

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Author Frank McCourt, who died Sunday at age 78, truly had his feet in two worlds. Hence, it was fitting that he provided his words –and his unmistakable Irish accent– for the narration of the radio documentary that gave birth to the Feet in 2 Worlds project, back in 2005.

Feet in 2 Worlds. Immigrants in a Global City was set in New York’s immigrant neighborhoods and told by immigrant reporters. McCourt’s first lines —read the full transcript here– were:

You arrive here as an immigrant and make a new life for yourself, but you never completely leave the country where you were born. It’s hard to find a home away from home.

In the introductory segment, McCourt said:

My name is Frank McCourt. I was born in New York and taken to Ireland when I was three. I returned to the U.S.A. when I was nineteen. Since then I’ve returned to Ireland frequently, even thought of going back and living there, but that’s another story.

Yes, going back and forth can be confusing. You wonder who you are, where you belong. Sometimes people ask me, “Do you consider yourself Irish or American?’” For a long time I didn’t know how to answer that question. I love both countries, but the people asking the questions were not satisfied, and I wasn’t quite satisfied till, somehow, the answer came: I am a New Yorker. This is where I was born. This is where I came when I was nineteen, and this is where I’ve decided I’ll live forever.

You can listen to the Feet in Two Worlds radio documentary at the WNYC, New York public radio, web site (on Real Audio.)

And you can read more about the documentary here.

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Stunning Comeback in Mexican Elections: FI2W’s Diego Graglia on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show

Feet In 2 Worlds web editor Diego Graglia was interviewed Tuesday on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, New York public radio.

Together with David Shirk, director of the Trans-Border Institute and assistant professor of political science at the University of San Diego, Diego spoke about the mid-term elections in Mexico, where the PRI, the party that controlled the country for seven decades until 2000, has made a stunning comeback.

You can listen to the interview below or go to the show’s webpage.

[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/bl/bl070709epod.mp3]

The election had a turnout rate of less than 50% and it saw almost 6% of voters casting nullified ballots as a protest against the political party system.

In a poignant gesture in this age of democratized communications, Twitter user @priscilliana decided to vote for the social network’s Fail Whale:

(Photo: Priscilliana/TwitPic -- Click on image to visit.)

(Photo: Priscilliana/TwitPic -- Click on image to visit.)

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Immigrant Business Owners on Staten Island Struggle Against the Recession: FI2W Reporter Aswini Anburajan on WNYC

By Aswini Anburajan, FI2W reporter

Immigrant business owners have breathed new life into the North Shore of Staten Island, New York’s least populated and least diverse borough.

Feet in 2 Worlds partnered with WNYC, New York public radio, to produce a profile of Victory Boulevard, one of Staten Island’s major thoroughfares, for the Main Street NYC series, which examines the recession’s impact on neighborhoods across the city.

You can listen to the story by pressing play below or visiting WNYC’s web site .

[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/news/news20090511_main_st_staten_island.mp3]

A Mexican grocery store on Victory Boulevard in Staten Island.

The history of Victory Boulevard is like that of a lot of American Main Streets.

It was once part of a thriving downtown area until the development of suburbs drew the middle class community away from an urban center, and left areas like the northern end of Victory largely abandoned.

However, immigration to Staten Island over the past ten years has revitalized this part of the Island, which has stores that represent virtually every corner of the globe. While immigrants were once one out of ten residents in Staten Island in 1990, they are now one out of four residents. Ten percent of these immigrants own their own businesses, but the recent economic downturn has left many business owners struggling.

Wigs on display at A&C Beauty Supply

A&C Beauty Supply is a store that serves the Island’s African community, largely made up of Liberian and Senegalese immigrants.

Its owner, Adam, who is from Senegal, says that he noticed the downturn more than a year ago. Customers who were once avid purchasers of wigs and hair care products, now barely enter. On the day I stopped in, Adam had no customers in his store.

Island Roti's owner Kelvin Hanaf

Kelvin Hanaf is the owner of Island Roti, a Carribbean takeout joint that serves food from his native Trinidad.

When I spoke with him he was at his wit’s end. “No one’s coming in,” he complained, saying that he would usually see weekend traffic start to pile into his store on a Thursday afternoon.

He joked that customers are cutting back so much that if they want to eat chicken roti they order a roti and cook their own chicken. Hanaf has cut prices by 50 cents on every item, and says that he just can’t afford to take the prices any lower.

Mosen Ibrahim at Moe's Cafe

Mosen Ibrahim also complains that penny pinching by the Island’s residents has taken a toll on his business. Moe’s Cafe, which he started five years ago, is one of the few places on Staten Island where you can find Mediterranean food and other dishes from Ibrahim’s native Egypt.

He was lured to Staten Island for the same reasons that many immigrants came — affordable home prices, the chance to start a business on the cheap and a small immigrant community from his native country. However, since the downturn Ibrahim has had to turn to his bank to stay afloat. They extended his mortgage, but he doesn’t mince words on what business is like right now. “Times are tough,” he said. “They’re tough for everybody but for the food business, when 80 percent of the people stop eating outside…” He trailed off with a laugh.

AgainstDaGrain

So who is doing well on Victory? Some of the haircutting salons like Against Da Grain Barber Shop report that even in a slow economy you still have to look good. This is one of the few stores on Victory that was crowded with customers the day I visited.

A hair braiding salon, named after its owner, Bissou, also reports that business is slowly picking back up. “A few months ago we were sitting here doing nothing,” Bissou, a Senegalese immigrant, told me, “So I can say that business is getting a little bit better.”

Tulcingo Travel, one bright spot amid the crisis

The one success story on Victory Boulevard, and perhaps for the future of immigrant-owned businesses on Staten Island, is Tulcingo Travel, a Mexican paquetería that facilitates the shipping of remittances and care packages between the United States and Mexico.

Immigrant entrepreneurs usually cater to their own communities, and in recent years the Mexican population on Staten Island has spiked, providing store owners who serve this community a buffer in these tough times. A Tulcingo worker told me that business had dropped off for about two months when the crisis first hit last fall, but things are back to normal now.

Could this bright spot on this struggling street mean that there is a silver lining to this crisis after all?

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Obama In Translation: Diego Graglia on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show

Obama and Piolín. (Photo: AP)

Obama and Piolín in 2007. (Photo: AP)

Feet In 2 Worlds‘ web editor Diego Graglia was a guest today on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, New York Public Radio, to talk about President Barack Obama’s recent statement on Spanish-language radio about his plans to start working on immigration reform this year.

On his interview with Los Angeles-based Eddie “Piolín” Sotelo, the President said he was “very committed” to having the reform passed in Congress. But the news was mostly ignored by English-language media.

As we wrote after the interview, this is not the first time Obama shows this different approach, tailored to the Latino, pro-immigrant audience.

“When he was running for president, virtually the only place where Mr. Obama talked about the issue of immigration was in Spanish-language media,” Feet In 2 Worlds‘ John Rudolph wrote. “His Republican rival, Senator John McCain, followed an almost identical strategy. As a result, consumers of Spanish-language media heard a debate over the two candidate’s positions on immigration that was missing from mainstream media.”

You can listen to Diego’s conversation with Brian Lehrer by pressing play below or you can visit the show’s page here:

[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/bl/bl030309epod.mp3]

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Deepening Economic Crisis Could Be Sending Polish Immigrants Back To Poland

Poles going back to Poland, a trend that was first noticed two years ago, may be getting a boost from the economic crisis in the U.S. Speaking recently on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, FI2W journalist Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska talked about the growing number of Poles who are returning to their home country for economic reasons.

A variety of factors have encouraged reverse migration, chief among them is Poland’s admission into the European Union four years ago. EU membership has opened up work opportunities for Polish citizens in a number of European countries. Ewa, who reports for Nowy Dziennik/The Polish Daily News, also noted that some younger Poles have moved to Poland in the belief that their American education gives them a competitive advantage in Poland’s economy. But she also said that like the U.S., Poland is experiencing an economic slowdown, so the benefits of moving to the Eastern European country may not be as great today as they have been in recent years.

Press play below to listen to Ewa on WNYC or click here to visit the show’s page.

[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/bl/bl112608epod.mp3]

Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

Ewa was recently honored by New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. at a Polish-American Heritage Celebration. Thompson hailed Ewa’s “truly impressive record of achievement that augurs a great body of work still to come.”

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Immigrant Voters in New Hampshire: Eduardo de Oliveira on New York Public Radio

Eduardo A. de Oliveira, a Brazilian-born reporter for New England Ethnic News and a Feet in 2 Worlds contributor, appeared this morning on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, New York Public Radio, to describe the scene in the battleground state of New Hampshire.

You can listen to that segment of the show here.

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Polish Immigrants Returning to Poland: FI2W’s Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska Reports on WNYC

Feet In Two Worlds reporter Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska recently produced a feature story for WNYC News. Her radio piece about New York Poles returning to Poland aired locally during NPR’s All Things Considered.

From WNYC News:

The troubling economic times here are making some immigrants think about going home. Nineteen years after the collapse of communism and four years after joining the European Union, Poland is booming and young Poles in the United States want to profit from these changes.

They’re following the example of Irish immigrants who have been lured home by the Irish economic miracle. For undocumented immigrants the decision to return is sped up by anti-immigrant sentiment that is forcing out foreign workers from many parts of the world. As part of our occasional series, Feet in Two Worlds, Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, of the Polish Daily News has this report.

You can listen to Ewa’s story here.

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Feet in Two Worlds Reporters Discuss Republican National Convention Speeches on The Brian Lehrer Show

Feet in 2 Worlds continues to provide the immigrant press’ views and analysis on the conventions with regular appearances on WNYC.

This morning, reporters Pilar Marrero (columnist and political editor of Spanish-language La Opinión) and freelance journalist Aswini Anburajan were guests on The Brian Lehrer Show to discuss last night’s speeches at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Pilar explored how Vice Presidential nominee Governor Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech and nomination might resonate with Latino and Latina voters. Listen here:

[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/bl/bl090408apod.mp3]

During the second hour of the show, Aswini discussed the role of entrepreneurship, high-tech industries, and H-1B high-skilled immigrant workers in shaping an economic platform for the future, as well as what 21st century jobs might look like.  She also shed some light on immigrant community views on free trade agreements and how they influence their party choices. Listen here:

[audio:http://audio.wnyc.org/bl/bl090408bpod.mp3]