Immigrant Connect Chicago is an online network for immigrants, refugees, their families and communities.

By Jack C. Doppelt

Thurs., July 28
Social mores have come a long way from arranged marriages to same-sex marriages. That isn’t to say that as one has come, the other has gone. Arranged marriages are alive, well and adjusting to the times. Read our companion stories – Arranged marriage: A tradition endures among Indian-Americans by Alexandra Holterman and Digital disruption: Arranged marriages adapt for Indian-Americans by Justin Deffenbacher.

To read all the stories, click on the photo to the right: SIX IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES THIS ELECTION YEAR.


Tues., July 19

If you’re not familiar with Chicago’s Polish Triangle or Pierogi Wagon, you’ll want to read this while there’s plenty of summer walking around time to spare – Polish-American cuisine: There’s more to it than pierogis by Taryn Nobil

To read all the stories, click on the photo to the right: SIX IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES THIS ELECTION YEAR.


Thurs., July 14

It is often said that the heart of the The Second Amendment is the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense within the home, but what if the violence comes as it often does from within the home and family? Read how diverse immigrant communities are dealing with it, in A Muslim confrontation: Using the Qur’an to teach about domestic violence by Lauren Sonnenberg and Domestic violence: A closet for immigrant vulnerability by Nicole Bauke.

To read all the stories, click on the photo to the right: SIX IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES THIS ELECTION YEAR.


Tues., July 12

Jeremy Yuan-shuo Li wants to make the Lee Association like mah-jong, welcomed by both old people and young people. There are more than one hundred million people with the surname of Lee (Li) around the world. Chicago’s association is located in the heart of Chinatown, one of the nation’s most bustling and thriving Chinatowns. Yet “we only have old men playing mahjong,” he says, using the game as an insight into the Chinese-American community. Explore the dilemma in Yi (Julian) Cao’s companion stories New blood: The future of Chicago’s Chinese community and It’s all in the name: Lee and Lee Family Association of Chicago.

To read all the stories, click on the photo to the right: SIX IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES THIS ELECTION YEAR.


Sat., July 2

Korean families started the trend. Families separating so fathers could continue working while mothers and their kids would move to an English-speaking country for their children’s education. The Chinese have picked up on it. Follow the flight patterns of these goose families in Chinese “Goose Mothers”: Their separation and sacrifice by Wei Wei
Ni, whose son Yuri came to the U.S. in 2012 and just graduated from a public high school this year, says children can’t get the same care from a host family as they can from their parents. She says they won’t get the spiritual support, the right food, or even the rest that they need.

To read all the stories, click on the photo to the right: SIX IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES THIS ELECTION YEAR.


Fri., July 1
What does Independence Day signify this Presidential election year weekend when Britain, the colonial power from whom the U.S. gained its independence 240 years ago, has now declared its own independence from the European Union? What policies and treatment cause disruption on such a dramatic scale? Look no further than the gentrification that displaces families that are caught in the path of “progress.” One group’s gentrification is another group’s urban development.

Read more: No Se Vende: Chicago and its Displaced Latinos by Zachary Basu
For years, researchers have struggled to accurately map displacement and relocation because of a lack of reliable data. Latino immigrants, especially those who are unauthorized, tend to leave without a trace, flying under the radar with little housing protection or concern from their local government.

To read all the stories, click on the photo to the right: SIX IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES THIS ELECTION YEAR.


Wed., June 29
Demographics matter this presidential election year. They’ll also matter once we have a new President and Congress. Think about these three overlapping population shifts:
The elderly population in the United States has multiplied.
So has the elderly immigrant population in the United States.
And on top of those, the Hispanic elderly immigrant population is now surging. From 3.6 million to a total of 21.5 million by 2060.
Read more: Perfect storm: The threat to health care for elderly Hispanics by Anika Hope Henanger
“I can’t tell you how often they sit down to just help the older adults translate their mail, whether it’s bills, utilities, forms, notices. Work that is not even in their care plan,” says Illeana Gomez. “They are taking time to sit there and help them — help them manage life.”

To read all the stories, click on the photo to the right: SIX IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES THIS ELECTION YEAR.
Sat., Jun 25
Glohan Choi wants to change the world. As a university professor, I beam when someone in their 20s stakes out that claim to the future. Who knows what will come of such impassioned naiveté if set loose? One in every seven Korean-Americans is not in the country legally. Choi is one of them.
Ironically, Thursday’s Supreme Court deadlock in U.S. v. Texas that left the futures of undocumented youth up in the air doesn’t even affect most Korean youth. Only 1.5 percent of the DACA applicants have been Korean, though three-quarters of those who applied were accepted into the program.

Read Choi’s story to appreciate why. Philosophical, articulate and stuck: The life of an unauthorized Korean-American by Jenna Lee

Even if Glohan Choi knew about DACA, it would not have made a difference. He wishes he could be a DACA recipient because he wants to travel freely.

To read all the stories, click on the photo to the right: SIX IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES THIS ELECTION YEAR.
Thurs., June 23
Periodically during this year’s Presidential election campaign, attention turns to immigrants. It did again today when the U.S. Supreme Court’s inaction left millions of unauthorized parents and children without the short term protection against deportation that President Obama’s executive orders had tried to ensure them. Fitting that it comes the morning after the House of Representatives’ more dramatic display of inaction on gun violence.
We return from those momentary attention grabbers to the national dialogue which tends to be foreboding – the need for a wall, the impulse to keep Muslims out, the call to deport those living without authorized status, and a Presidential election in which all the marbles are on the table. The traditional flag waving of candidates who tout their family’s proud immigrant heritage has been swallowed whole, with not even a gulp of self-awareness.
We spent 10 weeks in six of Chicago’s vibrant immigrant communities to get a sense of some issues immigrants were dealing with on a day to day basis. We focused on issues that were specific to particular immigrant communities and that were also relevant to other immigrant communities. As the summer of national party conventions comes and goes, there will still be the these stories from the Korean-American, Hispanic-American, Chinese-American, Muslim-American, Polish-American and Indian-American communities. Enjoy and let us know what you think.

Here’s the first —Korean adoptees: Left behind, now fighting for citizenship by Rachel Yang

Kevin Vollmers says the lack of active support from adoption agencies and the greater adoption community is why the 2000 act had more widespread support than the Adoptee Citizenship Act of 2015, which currently sits in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

To read all the stories, click on the photo to the right: SIX IMMIGRANT COMMUNITIES THIS ELECTION YEAR.


Chicago is steeped in the immigrant tradition and alive right now with the energy and natural chaos of recent arrivals to the city and suburbs. This project and site bring together the personal stories that emerge from the multiple immigrant communities in and around Chicago, and the committed reporting on issues of interest to immigrants and their families.

Here are a few good questions you might be curious about. If you read the answers, you’ll get to know some immigrants and families whose stories are worth sharing —

After the primary victory of Chinese American Theresa Ma for Illinois State Representative, what is needed for more Chinese American political representation? by Wei Wei

What are some of questions that remain up in the air for undocumented Korean-American immigrants? by Jenna Lee

Are mental health issues more of a problem for immigrants than for others? by Alexandra Holterman

Do immigrants change their names more than others, and more than they once did? by Justin Deffenbacher

What does birth tourism mean to different groups of people? by Yi (Julian) Cao

Why are so many Latino immigrants food insecure and what is being done to combat the issue?  by Zachary Basu


Meet our staff and contributors and read our stories. Start with these:

You don’t look Argentine by Zachary Basu

Backroom banter with my curious Albanian co-worker by Nicole Bauke

I have become Run-xuan by Yi (Julian) Cao

That first meal with the family by Justin Deffenbacher

A family bond, as volatile as an ocean, casts empathy and forgiveness by Anika Hope Henanger

It’s all in the family by Brian Hofmann

An immigrant shares a mattress, and a tip on watching horror movies by Alexandra Holterman

Hiding who I am is no way to connect by Jenna Lee

Immigrants like Millie could change the future of this country by Taryn Nobil

An American, an Israeli and a Parisian fulfill their end of the bargain by Lauren Sonnenberg

A Chinese daughter learns to bond by Rachel Yang

Chinese professor puts aside her language to become another self by Wei Wei

Meet others on our staff and more of our contributors and read their stories too.

Past Featured Projects:

 Finding triumph for Chicago's refugees

Education dream of immigrants more than an Act  Celebrating Chicago's refugees