[This text was originally published in AREA Chicago #11 in July 2010]
This video series interviews people from a range of Chicago immigrant communities.
Gretchen Hasse and Jen Blair have a sharp critique of immigration policy, the way immigrants are depicted in media, and of the racism and xenophobia that is so easily engaged in order to get people acting against their own social and economic interests. However, they are not interested in putting words into anyone’s mouth, nor will they edit the interviews so as to de-emphasize what the interviewees actually want to say.
Fundamentally, they want to emphasize that people who immigrate to Chicago are central to the life of the region, and that they have interesting things to say and sometimes advice to share.
The project title is taken from something Fred Tsao (of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights) said in a panel talk. Fred was comparing the level of harassment that immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, face in Chicago versus in the rest of the country, and he said “well in a way, Chicago is a kind of haven.”
As of August 2011, Gretchen and Jen have completed three interviews. There is roughly 90 minutes of footage for each of the interviewees, and they plan to eventually upload longer-form versions of the interviews.