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Marlen Garcia

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Mexico’s shame shades its beauty

There is beauty throughout Mexico. From the cactus plants in the north to the palm trees in the south and the Sierra Madre Mountains that stretch through the country, I have seen its beauty up close. I have walked along dirt roads thinking this is …

‘Somebody is thinking about them’

Outside the immigrant detention facility in Broadview, Minister Bobby Lawson of Matteson approaches distraught families who bring clothes and money to loved ones about to be deported. He meets them at their cars. “Habla Ingles?” he asks them. He speaks a little Spanish, he tells …

Making a fresh start in Little Village

The question is routine, appearing on just about every job application. “Have you been convicted of any law violation (except a minor traffic violation)?” I pulled that one from a fast-food restaurant application, but anyone who has applied for a job, whether it’s entry level …

Something smells in Little Village

If not for its unbearable stench, Collateral Channel would go unnoticed in Little Village. Covered by trees and brush, the slip of water on the north side of the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal is barely visible to traffic along 31st Street near Cook County …

They won’t quit immigration reform

Ashley Moy-Wooten spent her own money and on her own time raced to the Iowa caucuses in 2008 to rally support for Barack Obama, then running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. “We believed he was different,” Moy-Wooten, 31, said this week. “We …

Blindness doesn’t slow 9/11 survivor

Michael Blizzard Hingson was born in Chicago during a snowstorm. That’s how his parents came up with his middle name. His parents gave him an ordinary life in Chicago and later in California. He played outside with cousins and was roughed up by an older …

Heavy young men get labeled

Devonte Washington, in his second year at Kennedy-King College on the South Side, hauls a backpack in Army camouflage colors when he goes to school. It looks like an itty-bitty thing against his imposing 6-foot-2-inch, heavy frame, and it is useful for more than carrying …

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 …