Immigrants | WYPR

Immigrants

Dominique Maria Bonessi

Late last month, most of the kitchen staff at The Boathouse walked off the job after immigration agents asked the Canton restaurant’s management for their immigration documents. Some of them have returned to work, but the incident sent a chill through Baltimore’s restaurant and Latino communities.

Alma Cocina Latina is just a few blocks from The Boathouse in Canton. The restaurant’s owner, Irena Stein, says starting her Venezuelan restaurant in Canton wasn’t easy.

The International Rescue Committee works with refugees and other immigrants with low incomes who want to put down roots here by buying a home.  We speak with Nahlah Melaih, (center),  who coordinates Individual Development Accounts at the IRC. She explains what immigrants learn about financial terminology, building a credit score, setting up a budget to amass a downpayment and qualifying for matching funds. Then we meet two refugees who have done all that work -- Hamida Ebadi (left) from Afghanistan and Adote Akwei (right),  an asylee and community organizer from Togo, on Africa’s west coast.

Dominique Maria Bonessi

The simple task of dropping off or picking up a child at school became fraught with worry for parents at Hampstead Hill Academy in March when the father of a fourth grader was followed home and arrested by immigration agents. Now, parents, students and teachers at the school at Linwood and Eastern avenues have united behind their Latino parents and students.

"You never know when it is going to happen to you. So you live in fear and you live afraid," said David Rosario, father of a third-grader, in an interview at his office just blocks from the school.