Fieldnote, 16 September 2013

Long day of running back and forth, but also teaching. I went as ambassador to a high school on the north side of the city, North High School let’s call it. NHS. At NHS, a Spanish instructor had contacted folks working with Viva Mexico, who reached out to me to do some community work. I said of course, I always do.

Once I arrived, I learned that two Spanish teachers wanted me to speak to their classes. That would work fine. Mostly sophomores, some juniors and seniors. I was to have about thirty minutes each. And also to speak to them about the Year of Mexico at the UK.

The first class was pretty excited to see me, I guess. They asked me lots of questions about my life, where I came from, what it meant for my family. The teacher had done his research on me, and he knew about some of my work. I brought copies of the LOL book and I read a story about a language broker. I also spoke about the my autoethnography project and how I’ve used education and learning to critically unlayer aspects of my identity. I felt like I was doing my conference presentation from the weekend over again–twice again for this day.

The first class had about twenty students, arranged in grouped desks of four, the center of which had a flag from a different nation in Latin America and Spain Some of the students spoke while I spoke, but most listened to me. The teacher did his best to keep students in line, but I kept speaking, I think I handled it well. I did have to call out one student who for some reason or other was taking off his shirt in class. I think I won him over by the end after I read the LOL story though.

They asked me about my career, where I grew up, what it was like to be a researcher and teach at the university, what it was like being the first person in my family to attend college . . . basically all the stuff I love to talk about.

The second class was shorter, and we engaged in that class with more discussion about immigration, as well as the book project. In that class the students were “advanced” which meant more females and less discipline. I could feel the difference. The teacher in this class was female. The classroom was smaller. The desks were arranged the same way. There were no flags in the center of reach group though.

In this class I had a stool to sit on while speaking. In the first, there was no such option. That would have been nice, I thought, as I sat on the stool to speak.

“Bueno, voy a hablar poquito en espanol, pero, not much, porque hablo espanol bien feo. Entonces, voy a hablar en Espanglish. Para mi, it’s better to speak that way. Bueno, today I’m going to tell you a little bit about me, about my work, y otras cosas in the UK.”

Yeah, did I mention I practiced my Spanish in front of the class. Eventually I went back and forth. I was able to use more Spanish in the first class, but in the second I was very frank with them, and I admitted that I spoke “bad” Spanish, with groserias naturally, and that if I were to speak to them properly I would have issues. The teacher seemed to be understanding. The first teacher spoke with a Spaniard’s accent, and also Argentine. The second teacher was from Argentina. They could appreciate my Chilango-isms.

Later, I went to the Village Branch and worked with two students. The first was J. She’s a fifth grader at the immersion school. We did some math problems, and I spoke to her in Spanish. I did well with my Spanish today, creo. I asked her how to read numbers in her problems in Spanish. After we read two chapters together in a book about a boy in the wilderness of Maine during the nineteenth century. She reads well.  She was very independent and resented when I would correct a word when I hadn’t given her enough time to figure it out for herself.

The second student I worked with was a tenth grader. She needed help with her geometry. Turns out she was a student at Dunbar. I gave her a copy of the LOL book. I think she’ll enjoy it. Her math was difficult, and I only was able to help with a few problems. I think I may have confused her, but it appeared I was the only tutor able to take it on. The high school teachers hired at the center are not able to tutor this subject. This is an issue that I think I’ll have to address with the manager when I start writing my reports.

Fieldnote, 28 Aug. 2013

From Lexington Herald Leader

People across the nation celebrated the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s iconic “I have a dream” speech and the March on Washington.

In Lexington, a crowd came out to the Courthouse Square for a special observance of the 1963 March. The event was organized by the Lexington NAACP and the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice. People of all ages came out to honor the anniversary.

In Washington, that march has been remembered in a week-long series of events, which culminated in remarks from President Obama on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey and Jamie Foxx were among a list of speakers.

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Fieldnote, 19 August 2013

First night of tutoring for the school year, first night opened to students. I was the first tutor to show up for the year, and I was welcomed by Betty and Carolina, as well as introduced to the new staff member leading the homework program, Kelly.

Worked with two students, Yaneli, first grader the first. She coded colors, matching colors to numbers. She had difficulties distinguishing certain colors: red, blue, purple. She also needed help recognizing numbers. When I spoke to her in Spanish, she was quick in response. When I asked her about translations of colors and numbers, she had difficulty.

Next I helped Yvonne, one of the twin sisters. She’s in third grade this year.  We worked on math flash cards, two’s and three’s times tables; we build cards from folded and cut paper with her sister. When we finished we had to read for twenty minutes–the instructions for her homework sheet. We chose to read La Vo de Kentucky, the local bilingual newspaper. We read an article about a back-to-school backpack drive that served 8.000 local needy families. There was one line in the article, which we read in English: “One less thing for these families to worry about. Yvonne and I discussed the meaning of the sentence. She understood that poverty meant worries, and that the price of a backpack as being one, albeit small, way to help.

“Because some poor people can’t buy backpacks for school. But me and my sister got new ones because my mom spent a lot of money.”

“Then you’re lucky,” I said.

“She says we cost a lot of money, so she’s not going to buy us McDonald’s for a long time. But in the summer she bought us McDonald’s for breakfast on Mondays. That was good.”


Notes from Translating Childhoods: Immigrant Youth, Language, and Culture: Zones of Proximal Development

The sociocultural potential for scaffolding language brokering into language arts curricula:

“Language brokering work is [a] domain in which the assumptions that adults are experts and children novices should be challenged. Language brokering involves activities in which children, often taking the lead with adults, facilitate their parents’ abilities to accomplish tasks that these adults would not be able to accomplish on their own. In the process, children also support their parents’ acquisition of English language and literacy skills. Thus, in many ways, translation episodes represent zones of proximal development for parents, where children serve as the experts” (104).

“[. . .] parents also support their children’s work as translators in various ways. They ask questions, call for clarification, prompt their movement through text, offer procedural guidance, provide background information, correct children’s Spanish pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary, and otherwise work with the children to make sense of texts. They do this in varying degrees, across contexts, relationships, situations and tasks, and the nature and degree of their support certainly matters for children’s experiences of translation and for what they learn from their experiences. Thus, zones of proximal development of language brokering are dynamic and shifting. Children and parents mutually scaffold each other’s learning in these events, and they advance their skills together. THis can include their acquisition of the two languages, literacy skills, procedural knowledge, and knowledge about the social world. Both parent and child may provide different kinds of expertise, and zones of proximal development may modulate dynamically in interactions over tasks” (104).

Notes from Translating Childhoods: Immigrant Youth, Language, and Culture: Homework as Domestic Duty

“Homework is a powerful artifact, one of the few items that regularly crosses the divide between home and school. Homework brings school into homes and shapes household rhythms” (51).

Homework is schoolwork that is done at home, an activity that imposes itself on children’s daily lives and family life, often inflexibly and inexorably. But families’ experiences with homework are little known in part because homework, like other labor performed in the domestic sphere, is an ‘invisible’ sort of work. Like housework, it is generally unremunerated (except indirectly by teachers’ rewards, praise, or classroom grades), and it csometimes causes considerable stress and strife in homes” (51).

What Orrellana deems as unremunerated indirectly, classroom grades, rewards, and teacher praise) are incentive enough to do the work for some students to feel rewards from their work. Likewise, rewards and praise are incentive for doing housework. When becoming “chores” or tasks with little agency or motivation, the feeling of unremunerated work sinks in.

“homework is also housework–labor done in the domestic sphere–and it is consequential to families, yet largely invisible to the public eye” (51).

For Orellana’s multi-sited research, “Everyday, at-home interpretation of English texts was the most common kind of translation work that immigrant children engaged in” (52).

Argument: “I want to bring greater visibility to this hidden labor and explore the assorted kinds of translation work that children did in everyday ways at home for their families–as both household contributors and activities with at least as much potential for fostering children’s language and literacy development as offered by school homework exercises” (51).

“Reduced home language development meant that younger siblings were ill prepared to take over translating tasks, even as it potentially introduced the need for another kind of translating–between Spanish and English speakers in the same family.” Translation skills suffer, development of translation competencies.

Group translingual events: group translations of texts.

“Everyday, at-home interpretation of English texts was the most common kind of translation work that immigrant children engaged in” (52).

Factors weighed in to determine which child in the family became the “designated translator”:

1. Perceived dispositions of the children: their willingness to engage in such tasks

2. Perceived abilities: shaped by their dispositions, but also shaped through practice and experience

3.  Availability: access to the children when necessary (53)

Gendering for the designated translator: “When brothers and sisters were close in age a gendered division of labor sometimes took hold. This gendering seemed partly shaped y the girls’ greater general willingness with household chores, and perhaps by parents’ greater expectation for their daughters than for their sons to do such chores. But it was also relational; children translated for their mothers more than for any other adult, and girls often spent more time with their mothers than with their fathers. [. . .] our observations suggested that gendered patterns took a stronger hold as children moved through adolescence because of the gendered nature of family relationships and different constraints on boys’ and girls’ movements outside of the home” (53).

Spanish-dominant parents assisting with English homework: “Even when parents did not speak much English, they supported children in translation tasks. They did this by supplying background information and Spanish vocabulary and negotiating meaning with them” (55). Role-reversal? Rather solidifying of roles in the family domestic duties, including helping with homework with strengths different family members bring to the table.

Fieldnote, 14 August 2013

Filled out paperwork for parents at the library–schooling forms for their children dealing with release forms, responsibilities for parents in assisting their children with homework, dues to pay, and also signing-up for free-or-reduced lunch.

On the reduced lunch form, there was a box for SSN, and next to it another box which read “No SSN”. WIth one of the mothers I helped, this question was not intrusive, and we passed it without issue. For another mother, I could see it caused a sense of momentary judgment, as in, who is this person I am telling this information to. Another reason for me thinking I’ve yet to develop the trust for the community in the manner I had for MANOS. As I see it now, this will require a larger commitment of my time, but also the need for me to make more connections with parents. For it will be with the parents that I must pursue the study, to find more about their perspectives, but also their permission to carry the study further. In this case, then, it seems right for me to volunteer as much as possible for the first few months, getting to know parents, then holding off on the IRB stuff for a bit, that is, getting signatures . . .

WIth one of the mothers I helped, I filled out the paperwork for her two sons attending PLDHS. I didn’t mention my book project with her, but I expect to meet her sons in the future, hopefully through LOL. She has three children, two in high school, and her daughter in middle school. She couldn’t remember the name of her daughter’s middle school. This mother works at Qudoba, and she raises her three children on her own.

With the other mother I helped, we filled out her daughter’s reduced lunch form. This mother did not work, but she lived with her husband and had two children.

There were three other volunteers helping mothers with homework. Of the volunteers helping with homework, I spoke Spanish the least, and I was also the only Latino.

RSA Translingual Workshop Note

Translingual rhetorics/languages

Translingual literacy: the path ahead:     (progress . . .)

“The concept of language as a rigid,  monolithic structure is false, even if it has proved to be a useful fiction in the development of linguistics. It is the kind of simplification that is necessary at a certain stage of science, but which can now be replaced by more sophisticated models.” –Haugen, The Ecology of Language 1972, pg. 325


monolingual orientations (assumptions)

translingual rather than multilingual: not multiple monolinguals / complete literacies / tactics

action activity rhetoric

language repetoire tactics

decreased instances of contact / linguistic solitudes: languages in isolation, no interaction between languages.

Notes from the UMass Transnational Literacies Symposium, July 2013

Our assumptions seem to be that we can do this work at all

–there’s a productive end goal

–transnational is a sub-speciality to literacy studies

–still pointed to our central concepts


Our questions are after how transnationalism is different from other phenomena

–how what goes in one place affects another places

–the kinds of insights a transnational lens provides


Out struggles seem to be modes of analysis

–describing object of study, methodology, lens

–how we position ourselves within and across disciplines


Our current moment is changing technologies

–mass migration

–nation state power diminished to corporate power

–individual literacies: movement



TimeSpace scales: draw attention to how events, moments, movements in which scale shifts are strategic maneuvers for power.


(Collins, Slembrouck, and Bayhnam, 2009)


GIS Geographical Informational Systems HOMELAND SECRUITY WEBSITE, look at data for projects


American Community Survey: find website



transnational literacies: big data (quantitative) little data (qualitative);

Global Englishes in the transnational frame, how the global Englishes impinge on nation states, including those that have English-speaking majorities, such as former British colonies.


The Macro to the Micro: the time-space compression of technology, instant communication.


Transnational literacy practices, institutions which sponsor certain practices and the ramifications this has on the micro scale


Bottom-up literacies: “folksonomy”; tactics of user-driven learning, as in immigrants seeking out homework mentoring, or students learning grammar structures of English and practicing with their Twitter/Facebook feeds


Vertical and horizontal frames: top down or side-to-side

What goes on in one place flows to others, emanating from certain sources of power


NEED TO DO: look more at transnational flows of writing, using geography to track movements of people, languages, texts, practices (exchanges or remittances? “paper trails” credentials, etc.); literacies compelled in response to state control of migrations.


Transnational literacies: taking into account historical narratives of movement, directionalities, positions, social fields, or networks.


Free-write: Sitting here typing and thinking about what to write about transnational literacies and the experiences I’ve had networking with folks at this writing workshop. It’s been helpful for me to learn about all the work this “trans” group has come together to share, and where my work fits. I see my work as transnational in the sense that I study immigrant communities who maintain connections with family abroad, but overall my study at MANOS focused on how one immigrant community set up a “safe space”: how this underserved group existing in the shadows become cultural citizens. The issue is not so much going back and forth since legal status does not permit. Rather, the transnationalism or the homeland always dwells in the current context, either through connections to family there, or in forming emotional connections with folks from the same region, or from simply the remembering or nostalgia for the home. What’s interesting is that for some going home will never be an option, and for others home is not the place they ever want to return to, and they don’t conceive of themselves as transnationals.


From MANOS: Gina and David as Language Brokers

Gina’s nine-year-old brother David, for example, was familiar with informal registers of Spanish and English—in different contexts he referred to me as chavo (guy), caballero (gentleman), dude, and sir. Mentoring with MANOS youth, I have learned that for children, linguistic exchanges in everyday practice in all families move between formal and informal varieties of languages. Conceived in this way, we all broker formal and informal registers and literacies in our social encounters. How we exchange communication in the linguistic marketplace depends on the different rhetorical configurations of audiences and situations, or contexts. What we understand and acknowledge as the formal varieties of languages are institutionalized, standardized, and legitimated into positions of authority through schooling (Bourdieu and Passeron; Labov; Gee; Heath), and the informal localized varieties of language, though not published or publicly presented, are conducted with practical intentions. For bilinguals, brokering between formalities in different languages is a complex skill that develops through years of social practice, and requires schooling both at school and in everyday life in general.

Translanguaging Event: Censorship and Humor

            Little Gloria Montez, age four, was beginning to use more English in her regular speech, in part because of her participation in MANOS since she was an infant, and also because of her pre-school program which worked as a sort of bilingual primer to kindergarten. Several MANOS students mentioned during interviews that their English learning began during pre-school years. This particular Tuesday a group of children were playing in the art room at MANOS—Gloria, eight-year-old Samantha, seven-year-old Flor, and four-year-old Pablo.

I heard Gloria say something to Pablo with a very pronounced southern Mexican accent. I asked Gloria what she had said, but she didn’t respond to me. Then to the group, I asked,

“What was Gloria saying?”

“She said that her dad is going to hit Pablo,” said Samantha.

“But how did she say it in Spanish?”

“Papi te va’a chin-gár.”

“Papa que?” I asked.

“Papi te va’a chin-gár.”

“Papa tepa?”


“Te var?”

“Papi te va’a chin-gár,” said Flor.

“Papi te va’a chin-gár,” said Samantha.

“Tevare chingar?”

“Papi te va’a chin-gár,” said Pablo.

“No: tu—papi te va’a chin-gár,” said Gloria to Pablo.

There was laughter from all the children, and myself included even though I wasn’t exactly sure what they were saying.

“She said chingar?”

Silence. No more help? Then I asked, “But you said chingar?”


“That means that—to hit you,” said Flor.



“So she said ‘my dad’s going to hit you.’ Why?”

“Because he took her crayons,” said Flor.

 “Papi te va’a chin-gár,” said Gloria taking back her box of crayons from Pablo.

According to Gloria’s older sister Nansi, she picked up the form of Mexican slang from watching Spanish language television, and also from the way her uncle spoke to his friends who occasionally visited their apartment. Nansi said these young men used the word chingar a lot and also the word güey (guy, dude). Gloria, as well as most of the children I played with that evening at MANOS demonstrated how working-class Mexican-origin youth were assimilating to low-distinction Mexican speech form, along with low-distinction urban English from their playmates at school. Standard Spanish and English both contrasted with the home languages of the MANOS youth.

The linguistic predicament of MANOS families was a social predicament involving their class location from which they internalized cultural capital of low distinction. The speech codes of urban New York City English were incompatible with the speech and writing codes of the New York City schools. Their casual use of chingar exemplified the colloquial Spanish MANOS youth absorbed within their urban Mexican community of Foraker Street. At the same time, the colloquial English the performed, as when MANOS students pronounced ask as “axe,” was also heavily influenced by the African American Vernacular (AAV) codes of the neighborhood.

            The meaning of the verb chingar from Mexican Spanish is quite literally to have intercourse, or metaphorically “to fuck” or “to screw” (Farr 124). It’s a commonly used Mexican swear word. Mexican Nobel laureate Octavio Paz describes its ubiquitous meaning in The Labyrinth of Solitude as “a magical word: a change of tone, a change of inflections, is enough to change its meaning. It has as many shadings as it has intonations, as many meanings as it has emotions” (76). The same could be same for the colloquial “fuck” in English. It can be a verb, an adjective, an adverb, a noun, or a particle. It could be used to express anger, pleasure, dismay, and on. Like chingar, “fuck” is a versatile word used for multiple purposes and contexts. The versatility and utility of the two words give them a powerful place in everyday speech, which is forbidden in schools given school formality and school circulation of standard usage.

Hearing the words come from little Gloria’s mouth both bemused and shocked me because it was one Spanish word I was familiar with, but what immediately struck me was the Mexican accent in which she said it. The tone in her voice sounded less child-like and more like the adult language spoken within that particularized speech community, spoken with authority or membership (Limón). My own membership, however, in trying at odds to pronounce the phrase after hearing it was not even a matter of questioning. Language groups construct certain norms that identify certain words or phrases as incorrect or slang (Anzaldúa; Paredes). Vernacular literacy and community, or nonstandard dialects, use slang in everyday communicative events (Martínez 22), and in the case of a speech code of low distinction, the important task this presented to the MANOS youth was grasping code-switching along with grasping English.

Little Gloria, by the way, did get her crayons back.

Fieldnote, 2 July 2013

ImageKentuckians advocating for Legalization with Dignity met with Rep. Andy Barr today to discuss immigration reform. We arrived first at Raising Cane’s–a fast food chicken joint–to discuss our plan for approaching the congressman. Our goal was to speak of our experiences, to teach the congressman our side of the issue, and where we stood. Before we arrived, Barr had met with immigration attorneys for a few hours to brush up to speed in terms of what the issue looked like. When we arrived, the whiteboard in the conference room looked like the following:


We had a fruitful discussion, but with the congressman was firm with his stance on increased border security. What struck me was his reading of a proposal which mentioned that the same militarized technology used by the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq would be used on the U.S.-Mexico border (particularly surveillance drones and a “surge” of personnel). 

When I came to my turn, I spoke about my educational trajectory. I also mentioned about the LOL book and how that came to be. I presented Rep. Barr with a copy of the book. He thanked me and said he looked forward to reading it. 

Newspaper Coverage of Living Out Loud

The Lexington Herald-Leader wrote an article about Living Out Loud, featuring one of the students at a local teen reading. I was interviewed a few days before, and it seems that the reporter focused on the “feel good” angle for the report. The hope is that this will generate exposure, and potentially buyers for the libro. The full report is here below:


The words, by Ana Contreras, are from Living Out Loud: Our Stories, Our Struggles, a new book written by Latino students at Lexington’s Paul Laurence Dunbar High School. The writers describe what it’s like growing up and attending school in a sometimes alien — and not always welcoming — country.

All proceeds from sales of the book will be used for scholarships for Latino students at Dunbar, where about 14 percent of the student population is Latino. The book retails for $9.99 and is available on It will also be available soon at The Morris Book Shop in Lexington.

The idea for the book came from members of Latino Outreach Leaders, an organization at Dunbar created by Latino students.

The book’s publication marks a big moment for the students, said Maria Ortiz, 18, a founder and former president of Latino Outreach Leaders who graduated from Dunbar last month. She read selections from the book Thursday night at Teen Howl, a once-a-month reading of poetry by middle and high schoolers at The Morris Book Shop.

“I really hope it inspires Latino kids and shows them that they can succeed,” Ortiz said. “Many times, they don’t have a support system. Our club’s basic goal is to get Latino students excited about school and feeling empowered. We don’t want to see them drop out.”

The story of the book, and the club that created it, goes back four years, when Dunbar social studies teacher Sharessa Crovo noticed that some of the Latino students in her ninth-grade social studies class weren’t trying.

They were bright kids, capable of mastering classroom work. But they were shutting down.

Crovo started asking them why.

They replied, “Why bother?”

Crovo was surprised to learn that many of the students were not born in the United States and were undocumented, which effectively locked them out of consideration for scholarships and most college financial-aid programs, which typically require proof of citizenship. The discouraged students saw no hope for college and little reason to study.

“They were telling me these stories, and I’d never heard anything like it,” Crovo said. “Many of the kids had come here when they were only 2 or 3 years old. But because they were undocumented they were kind of living in the shadows.

“They said things like, ‘What’s the point?’ They said, ‘I can’t do anything, even if I graduate.’ Others said they didn’t feel like they belonged; that they didn’t feel like they fit in; that they didn’t feel like anybody cared.”

Crovo, who’d recently moved to Lexington from South Carolina, knew little about immigration issues. But she knew she had to help the students.

So she offered them a deal: if they would study harder, she’d help them find sources of money for college.

Some of the students were reluctant at first; others said “maybe.”

But slowly things began to happen. More Dunbar teachers helped. Monthly meetings were held to assist Latino students with problems. Evening sessions were organized at the Lexington Public Library’s Village Branch to help Latino parents assist their children.

Jim Adams, coordinator of Dunbar’s Student Technology Leadership Program, offered to establish a technology program for Latino students. The kids, however, had a different idea. They launched a club of their own, Latino Outreach Leaders.

Meanwhile, Erin Howard, Latino outreach director at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, helped the growing Dunbar effort. Students like Ortiz started attending BCTC’s annual summer Latino Leadership and College Experience Camp, taking what they learned back to their classmates.

Crovo spent every spare moment reading and searching online for college information and assistance programs that did not require proof of citizenship, passing the information on to the Latino students.

When the Obama administration launched its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program in August, Dunbar held a fair at which students could get details and assistance in applying for the program. DACA doesn’t guarantee citizenship, but it allows undocumented youngsters to remain in the United States legally to attend school or work.

Later, when the Latino students at Dunbar came up with the idea of writing a book about their experiences, Stephen Alvarez, an assistant professor of English at the University of Kentucky, stepped up to do the editing.

“Dr. Alvarez had just arrived at UK, so all of the pieces kind of fell together,” Howard said. “Some other schools in the area have clubs for international students. But the Dunbar program is really the first that focused on providing a space and a voice for Latino students to encourage each other and plan for college. It’s unique because it really started from the students.”

The effort is important, Howard says, because immigrant youngsters — documented or not — often struggle when they’re the first generation to move into a new community.

“They’re learning a new language; they’re trying to understand new cultural norms,” she said. “They wonder, ‘Where do I fit in? Where do I belong? No one is talking to me about having high expectations for my education or myself.'”

Ortiz knows what that’s like. She was brought to the United States, undocumented, when she was 3. She has no real memories of life in Mexico.

When she was a sophomore at Dunbar, Ortiz decided to tell other students in her advanced placement world history class that she was undocumented.

“It was really, really tough,” she said. “But I thought that if I told people my story and made them understand what immigrants are really like, they would see things differently.”

Ortiz, who has been accepted into the DACA program, recently took the big step of getting her learner’s permit to drive, something she couldn’t do previously because she lacked proof of citizenship. She’s also considering several colleges, including UK and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She loves art.

Ortiz thinks her future looks bright, thanks in large part to the program for Latino students at Dunbar.

“I love my culture,” she said, “but I definitely consider America my home.”

Meanwhile, Crovo still gets a little misty-eyed remembering last month’s Dunbar graduation, when she saw many of those Latino kids who were shutting down four years ago cross the stage to receive diplomas.

“These are innocent kids who are kind of caught in the middle,” she said. “All they want is to get an education, go get a job and build a life like other people.”

“I struggled a lot in this country … Now this is my home. I know nothing of Mexico … I’m Kentucky. I’ve been here for nearly my whole life.”


The “news” of the article, however, becomes the public’s responses, which I post here below, and which I will come back to later in order to analyze some of the arguments surrounding the discourse:


  • kymom2

    What is wrong with educating people who want to do something positive with their lives?  Being a minority does not give you a leg up in college when you cannot pay for it.  Not sure if you realize this but if you don’t have a social you’re not eligible for federal aide, student loans or state funds.  They have to pay for everything out of pocket or cannot go.

  • Yong Guan

    I am glad that you are here.  This is your country and you belong here.  I look forward to reading your book.

  • offwithishead

    Funny……white people complaining.

  • tafugate

    please go home and learn about your country of origin.  that’s where your family is, other than the criminals that brought you here illegally.  you’re not wanted here.  the intelligent, prudent option would be to…go home.  you’ll make new friends.

  • Sundance

    Is it Hispanics in general or just the illegals that are not wanted here by you?

    I just wonder how many of these kids brought here illegally when they are infants or toddlers have the necessary “legal” paperwork that is required for them to re-enter their “country of origin”.

    In other words, maybe it is prudent to return, but the question is how they get back in and prove citizenship of that country?

    If say, Ellie Mae was taken to Russia illegally when she was 2 and grew up there, only spoke Russian and then having reached maturity wanted to return to Pikeville but had no documentation.  What would be the process so that she could come back and make new friends?  How does she prove she is Ellie Mae, that she was born here, that she is a citizen here?

  • tafugate

    nothing against hispanics at all.  nothing at all against, and hopeful all legal immigrants from everywhere, find the united states as wonderful as the rest of us.  i wish them the best of luck in all their endeavors.

    you pose an interesting dilemma.  i suppose someone that claims they have no parents, they somehow ‘woke up’ one day and they were living a lie in a country they don’t belong, there’s not a lot you can do.  in that case, i suppose some kind of perpetual visitor status could be arranged.  but in no way should citizenship be bestowed on someone who’s not american (and that’s excluding central and south american).

    i have no doubt other countries don’t want these criminals back any more than we want them here.  but if you have a country sending criminals illegally to the united states, that’s an act of war.  i don’t think we’d have to launch on mexico city, but i’m sure there exists enough economic sanctions we could work something out.  once they’re back where they belong, that country can treat the criminals as they please.

  • Sundance

    No, I never said that Ellie Mae had no parents.  I said, just as these kids she was taken to Russia after birth, that implies she was taken there by her parents.

    Are you suggesting that simply on the word of the parents, who may or may not even be able to identify as American citizens she should be let back in?  No, your saying Ellie Mae is not a citizen and should not be given citizenship.

    How can we place political sanctions on a country to accept individuals they nor the individuals themselves can prove are citizens of their country?

    And so what happens to these individuals, you don’t want them here, they don’t want them there, what should be done with them then?

    What happens to Ellie Mae, she’s born a US citizen yet you refuse her citizenship for lack of proof, as would I?  Is it Russia’s problem then for what to do with her?


  • tafugate

    i don’t buy the crapola if a child is born in the united states, they’re automatically u.s. citizens.  they’re citizens of whatever country their parents hold citizenship.

    and if a criminal child doesn’t have the documentation to go back where they belong, and the country where they hold true citizenship won’t take them back, and we can’t prove where they belong, then as i said, they can remain here in a permanent state of visitor status.  that means no government assistance of any type.  they can attend private schools if they can afford it.  or the school wishes to extend them a grant.  no medicaid/medicare/social security.  if that’s not satisfactory to parents, they shouldn’t have brought them here illegally.  life’s tough all over.

    i’m really liking immigration reform.  it’s not nearly as difficult as politicians make it out to be.

  • Sundance

    That’s a pretty narrow view of a complicated problem.

    “…a criminal child…” now that’s one I’ve never heard before.  So, if I go to rob a convenience store and take my 6 month old along with me, he’s a criminal?

    I’m not always very compassionate but I think in most all these cases the children are victims, not criminals.

    And your idea of a perpetual visitor is really just, how can I best put this, government sponsored shadow society.  Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, your solution is to collect their names and give them some government number to keep track of them.  Let them work and pay taxes but don’t allow them any benefits, or perhaps you don’t even want them to work?  Anyway, if they pay taxes of any kind whatever services those taxes were targeted for should be available to those who paid for them, legal or illegal.

    My idea of immigration reform is find a path to citizenship for all those, both children and adults who have committed no other crimes other than entering illegally.  Place sever and permanent punishments on businesses that hire illegals.  Mandatory prison sentences for Owners, CEO’s and managers of businesses who hire illegals (ignorance of activity is no excuse).  Forfeiture of all assets associated with businesses hiring illegals, including all assets of corporations like Purdue Farms.

    The problem of illegals disappears when you take away the economic incentives for everyone involved.

    From a very narrow perspective, your not legal so leave, you can’t stay here immigration reform is very easy.  A viable solution is not so easy, not because of any political or special interest interference but simply the complexity of the problem.

    These kids in the article are trying to explain their experience, your not hearing any of it, your not open to understanding others.

  • tafugateCollapse

    i generally read your comments with great interest.  you’re usually very logical.  but i’ll end this thread with this thought…if my parents robbed a convenience store when i was 6 months old, once i was old enough to understand what they did was wrong, i would give them the chance to turn themselves in and/or make restitution.

    same for children of criminals entering or staying in the united states illegally.  once they’re old enough to understand what their parents did was wrong, it’s up to them to make restitution.  playing victim, i didn’t know, not being able to understand they’re criminals, isn’t an excuse.  they have the opportunity to do what’s right.  how they respond speaks volumes to their true character.

    edit: sorry, i didn’t read your comment beyond the first couple of sentences. it was uncharacteristically pointless drivel. looking forward to future conversations.

    • Sundance

      I’m sorry you feel that way.  I took great care in trying to make a coherent and logical argument.

      I’m a little surprised by your view on this subject, which hints to me that your not being all that honest about why you feel the way you do.  I’m sure that’s personal to you though.

      I’ll rightfully assume that all those men who escaped the draft by leaving the country should never have been pardoned and allowed to resume their lives.

      It’s hard to argue about the law, it is what it is and it isn’t anything different than what it is.  All those who failed to go through the proper immigration process and entered the country illegally have committed that crime.  And in the laziest interpretation of those laws should be arrested and deported to where they came from.

      I can’t imagine but a very small minority of us that never break a law of some sort or another.  If we fail to admit that I think that says more about our character than the breaking of any such law would say.  That is to say, I would be careful throwing stones in a glass house.  Or as Jesus liked to say, he without sin cast the first stone.

    • katie1986

      Well being hispanic/latino will give them a foot up on college and employment competition.  UK, UL, Cincy all love getting their quota of hispanic/latino and will offer free “rides” for many if they attend their school. My great grandmother is from Chile, maybe I should jump on that bandwagon.

    • Sundance

      I’m game, prove it, that they’ll have a foot up.

      Quota, there is a quota, what quota, do you have a list of the quota’s required by these schools and who requires them?

    • tafugate

      oh, c’mon, sundance.  don’t play stupid.  i know you know better.  of course it’s politically correct nowadays every educational institution has quotas to attract disadvantaged, foreign, downtrodden, whatever the let’s stick it to the taxpayer reason du jour.  educational institutions have x number of seats for students, when they give those seats to people who shouldn’t be here in the first place, who loses?

      same for some companies i’ve been involved with recently.  they actively recruit foreign, less educated help, for the specific purpose of not having to pay equivalent salaries.  i realize everyone has the right to make a buck, but a lot of illegal immigration is a direct result of the new, widely accepted, system of slave labor.

    • hailiebug

      It is unfortunate that these kids are caught in the middle of a complicated issue. However, they were brought here illegally and should not be eligible for assistance meant for citizens. I would prefer to help them though and crack down on those that are abusing and gaming the system.

Anonymous Poem

 The Stride as we Thrive 

Many were able to rise and many have fallen

The future of the undocumented has not yet been

recorded due to the restrictions of not being pardon.

As undocumented hearts and souls become weary

By this country’s law for being greedy, we still, however,

Stand faithful to this our only known mother country.

We try to show it is not our fault, instead

they seem to nail us the wooden cross. They grew to hate

us but only if they knew. O, never did I mention the positives

we bring this country? Never did I mention that the majority of

our high school’s valedictorians are undocumented? Well, this is

much old news because we have been much more good use.

We don’t dwell on the flaws, we will pick up our paws and never

Cease our walks. Our walks are to be made know that with

Documentation or not, we will forever stride,

Holding up the banner of what seemed to be never.