Marlen Garcia

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College dorm in Pilsen says ‘hola’

Polo Briones got a reasonably priced alternative to campus housing when the senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago moved to La Casa, a college dormitory in Pilsen for students attending colleges all over the city. The internship he landed was a nice bonus. …

  • English first? No law is necessary

    I’ll never forget the first time I realized my Spanish skills were eroding. I look back on it with humor and regret. My father was dying but had not stated his burial wishes. I needed to find out if he wanted a burial or cremation. …Read More

  • Jail keeps a neighborhood quiet

    The massive compound that is the Cook County Jail bears down on the Little Village neighborhood of South Sacramento Avenue between 26th and 31st streets. A towering concrete slab walls off the inmates’ exercise yard from the neighborhood, though from the right angle residents can …Read More

  • Getting over the ick factor

    Some will snicker and others will be unnerved after reading this column. Those with a truly open mind about recycling will appreciate the innovation. It’s about turning human waste into organic fertilizer, a process being undertaken across the country by municipalities that dispose of tons …Read More

  • A garden grows in Little Village

    MARLEN GARCIA: The quarter-acre lot on South Troy Street in Little Village, once abandoned, is starting to thrive as a community garden. That means a lot to the residents, including guys I call old-timers, who spend several hours weekly caring for the property that used to be an eyesore with a high stink factor.

    VA scandals discourage recruits

    Looking back on his childhood and early adult life, Vietnam War veteran Ronald Baltierra believes he had an undiagnosed hyperactivity disorder. “I’ve been told I was a good soldier but I couldn’t sit still,” Baltierra, who received a bronze star for valor, says. “In Vietnam …

    The payoff for a brutal winter

    We sloshed through heavy snow amid record-setting frigid temperatures for months and looked forward to spring, only to see typically vigorous shrubs and plants toasted from the winter burn. If there is an upside to a brutal winter, it’s hard to see it. But it …

    These nuns won’t back down

    In a letter she wrote earlier this week to Pope Francis, Sister Noemia Silva asked him to bless and pray for nuns as they fight to close down a Stone Park strip club built awfully close to their convent in Melrose Park. Did she really …

    Berwyn kids clue in the adults

    Years ago, as a high school sports reporter, I learned to never underestimate the intelligence and poise of adolescents. Their brains are still developing and they have plenty of life lessons ahead of them, but they are far more astute than adults think. Berwyn Mayor …

    Antenna TV looks like no free ride

    Back in January, I became one of more than 21 million U.S. residents to hook up a television to an antenna. Cable television had become too expensive, around $100 a month, so I cut that cord. Increasingly, others are doing the same. In April, USA …

    Test question steps over a border

    For children, teens and young adults who struggle with instability at home, school can be a wonderful escape. Students can get lost in a wide range of topics, from English literature to a study hall gossip hour. For undocumented students, school can be a haven …

    Lawmakers clueless on prep sports

    Now and then a reasonable point was made during reprehensible grandstanding by state legislators in a hearing this week on how the Illinois State High School Association is run. Rep. Monique Davis, D-Chicago, called for “fairness at the table,” after asking IHSA Executive Director Marty …

    More upscale scenery for Habitat

    Pioneer Court Plaza in Chicago has been home to art fairs, cultural festivals, even a giant sculpture of Marilyn Monroe. In a few weeks it will be taken over by more than 50,000 pounds of lumber and 400 volunteers for Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity as …

    Sometimes, only a lime will do

    Even when limes shot up to $80 for a case of about 230, Daniel Gutierrez Jr. proceeded with his wholesale order for the restaurant he runs with his father, Nuevo Leon on 18th Street in Pilsen. Not so fast, his father, Daniel Sr., told him and yanked the order. Instead they have been buying less expensive lemons, far from a hit in Mexico and with anyone who loves Mexican cuisine. “How can you compare lemons to limes?” Daniel Jr., 43, asked.

    Home loans hit immigrants hard

    About 10 years ago, before the mortgage crisis hit, banks and other lenders started aggressively tapping into the immigrant market. Undocumented immigrants were encouraged to apply for home loans using individual taxpayer identification numbers, or ITINs. The Internal Revenue Service issues the nine-digit ITINs so …

    Does majority even want diversity?

    In April 1997, when golfer Tiger Woods won his first Masters tournament in Augusta, Ga., a then-colleague of mine at the newspaper I then worked at offered a well-intentioned but jarringly inappropriate quip in a front-page sports column full of one-liners. “You da Master,” he …

    Undocumented youth need support

    MARLEN GARCIA: A tall woman with blond hair and blue eyes nervously grabbed a microphone to tell her story about growing up in despair because she is undocumented. “Does my lack of a social security number make me less of an American?” the woman, Egle Malinauskaite, asked rhetorically.