The Lower East Side’s reputation as a haven for immigrants dates to the 19th century and holds true today: More than 40 percent of the neighborhood’s population is foreign born. With the Trump Administration’s crackdown on immigration dominating the national political discussion, the NYCity News Service teamed with The Lo-Down to listen to residents of a neighborhood intrinsically linked with the American Dream. The stories our team uncovered are as rich and diverse as the Lower East Side itself.
A Family Separated
Ramon Vargas waited four years to get a visa so he could leave the Dominican Republic and join his wife and children in New York. But he also left other family behind, Kim Avalos reports.
‘Follow Your Constitution’
Mufti Qasimy of the Assafa Islamic Center says attendance is fluctuating amid deportation fears. The Bangladesh-born Qasimy, who became a U.S. citizen in 2006, called on President Trump to “follow your Constitution,” Prachi Bhardwa reports.
A Radio Host On a Mission
Angel Diaz uses his religious radio show to share legal information geared toward helping immigrants. The Puerto Rico-born host sees his neighborhood a “wonderful garden” that welcomes newcomers, Constanza Gallardo reports.
‘The Land Belongs to All of Us’
Amy Velez said she wasn’t welcomed in the U.S. when she fled oppression in Colombia 35 years ago. She doesn’t blame President Trump for the current anti-immigrant backlash: She believes the country has long been hostile to new arrivals, Milana Vinn reports.
The Freedom Swimmer
At age 19, Ming (Chris) Chung swam eight hours to Hong Kong to escape China’s Cultural Revolution. Chung, who arrived in Chinatown in 1974, calls the U.S. a “freedom country” and embraces President Trump’s “America First” credo, Mallory Moench reports.
Staying Positive, Working Hard
Fernando Lopez recently opened Factory Tamal, which serves tamales inspired by the ones made his grandmother and other relatives. The Mexican immigrant hopes hard work, staying positive – and his tamales – will prove a recipe for success, Maritza Villela reports.
Ready to Take a Chance Again
Rolando Calle, an immigrant from Italy, established himself as a restaurateur. He lost his business to the financial crisis and now works in someone else’s Little Italy eatery. But he’s eyeing a comeback, Cherese Butler reports.