Voices in Focus: On Empty Stomachs, Vendors Cook Through Ramadan

Today marks the kick-off of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, through which as many as 1.76 million young undocumented immigrants may be able to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation. We have a selection of stories on this milestone from New York City’s ethnic and community press, as well as a video on how Muslim food cart vendors cope with Ramadan fasting and a feature on the first Latino man to play the lead role in an Italian festival in El Barrio.

* The photo gallery that Aaron Leaf of Feet in 2 Worlds put together is more than just a collection of images — each photo links to a piece of the publication’s previous coverage of the struggle for a DREAM Act, and of the students, activists and politicians who fought for the legislation, which still languishes in Congress and in Albany.

* Also at Feet in 2 Worlds, Erwin de Leon put together a round-up of coverage from New York City and national publications in advance of today’s kickoff.

* Longtime immigration lawyer David Sperling has created a new foundation to help undocumented youth find their way through through the deferred action program, Tribuna Hispana reported in the excerpt translated below:

The news of the foundation’s establishment was announced during a cruise on Freeport beach, completed last July 24, his birthday, which he celebrated among family friends and a small group of “DREAMers” that were present at the birth of the organization, which hopes to become a center of support for young students on Long Island, according to its founder.

Amid the celebrations, some were quick to point out that the new program’s provisions fall short of the DREAM Act, and fail to provide a path to citizenship. Still, Sperling sounded optimistic that the program will eventually lead to a permanent solution.

“Finally there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I have no doubt that this passage, announced by president Barack Obama, can be the path that leads young immigrants to permanent residency,” said Sperling, who provided his services pro bono last year to Emily Ruiz, a girl born in New York to Guatemalan parents who was mistakenly deported and who then returned to New York after her odyssey, where she reunited with her parents.

Anthony Rodríguez is the first Latino to play the role of ‘El Giglio’ at an Italian religious festival that takes place in El Barrio. (Via El Diario)

* In other news, for the first time ever, a Puerto Rican man took the leading role in an annual Italian religious festival that takes place in El Barrio each August, El Diario reported. Here is a translated excerpt that explains the significance of the festival:

El Giglio is an Italian religious festival with roots in the 20th century celebrated every August in El Barrio, and which culminates with the hoisting of a platform that weighs more than two tons, on which sits a tower more than 70 feet high. The tower is decorated with images of Saint Athony of Padua, whom the festival is dedicated to, and other saints.

* The high temperatures this summer have been hard on many New Yorkers, but for Muslim street vendors fasting for Ramadan, even the momentary relief of a gulp of cool water at the height of the afternoon heat is out of reach, reported City Spoonful’s Ishita Singh in the video piece above.

At the Comme Ci Comme Ça food truck, chef Samir Afrit, who grew up in Morocco, and all of his cooking staff also are fasting for Ramadan. Being around food all day is hard for Afrit and his crew.

“That makes it even like harder to do Ramadan inside the truck because, like you said, you have the food, you are cooking the food, from the morning until, like, 3:00[p.m.] and you cannot even touch it—and plus the water,” says Afrit. “But when you have your faith, so everything in life gets easier.”

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