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Amber Duke: Edgardo, thank you for your time today.

Edgardo Mansilla: You're welcome

AD: For the recording can you acknowledged that you signed the consent form that I gave you?

EM: I did.

AD: Perfect. Can you say and spell your name for the record?

EM: Edgardo Mansilla E-D-G-A-R-D-O M-A-N-S-I-L-L-A

AD: Can you tell me when and where you were born?

EM: I was born Lomas de Zamora, provincia de Buenos Aires, Republica Argentina. April 14, 1953.

AD: And can you tell me how you ended up here in Louisville?

EM: I had a scholarship to study at the Southern Baptist Seminary at the old and now closed school of Social Work.

AD: Ok great. And from what I understand you are also part-time faculty at the 1:00University of Louisville's Kent School?

EM: Yes, I am part time at University of Louisville also, part time at Bellarmine University.

AD: And you are the Executive Director of the Americana Community Center, can you tell me about the work you do here?

EM: I am the Executive Director yes, and about the work. We provide several services to the low income populations surrounding the center but also all over. We have people who come from 90 countries, 9-0. We have about 35 different zip codes representative among the participants of Americana.

We focus on multi-education. We have what we call adult education, that will be GED classes, with people born in the United States mostly. We have ESL classes targeting internationals who need to improve their level of English. Most of 2:00them can communicate in basic survival English, but not at a higher level. We have a family education program that is not parenting. We combine English classes as a second language. We combine education to the parents about the development of the child especially in areas like eye/object coordination, language acquisition, motricity. Trying to be sure the parent can see the child is more or less on the track that it's supposed to be at that age. Understanding of different cultures. Most of the time what you expect for a three year old in the United States, is not what is expected in other parts of the world. So we combine these things.

We also teach to the parents systems. How the school system works. How the University works, how the police works. How social welfare works. And then we create activities for the parents to interact with the child here at the center 3:00and then at home. The family program goes in the morning Monday through Thursday and at night also Monday -- Thursday. So there are two different groups of parents attending.

By the way the other program depends on how many classes you have to take. ESL is twice a day, 4 days a week, Monday through Thursday. And there are classes between 10 and 1 in the morning and between 6 and 8:30 at night. Family education is morning and night. Then we have the after school program or programming with youth, we call "The Whole Abrel Americana serve youth." During the school year we have after-school program the kid is supposed to be doing homework. And after they finish homework they have what we call enrichment activities. There could be music, dancing, sports, hip hop music, computer 4:00classes. After they have dinner, and homework they can participate in one of the activities and/or go back and do more homework. It depends, homework is the priority.

And then, during the summer program, during the summer months, we have a summer program. In the mornings we partner with Jefferson County Public Schools. We have had this partnership for the last 17 years we've been here, we are doing this with kids with low grades or grades who need to improve. Or kids who are new in the city are coming for math, science, grammar. And then in the afternoon we have more recreational activities. But in reality we are cheating them, 5:00because we are giving math exercise and grammar exercise without them realizing that they are working on the school stuff. We have breakfast, lunch, snacks --

AD: And that's with Kids Café.

EM: The Kids Café for that, yes. And then we have what we call Fiberworks Women's Club. The persons who learn English and the systems also learn how to do some craft. Could be knitting, could be whatever they want to learn. We have a community garden, we have a rain garden, and this is for everyone who wants to be part of both gardens. I think that is more or less what we have right now.


AD: Okay. And I want to say I also talk with my hands, so be careful because because you are right in front of the mic and it picks up when you hit the table.

EM: Yeah, we are going to hear a lot of nosies like this.

AD: [laughs] I want to talk about fair housing issues related to immigrants and internationals. And in the literature about these things, the terms immigrants and internationals are used. I don't know if you use those terms but sort of to contextualize this interview will you sort of give your definition of those terms.

EM: I would prefer to use internationals because internationals include refugees and immigrants. And they are two totally different populations. They are different laws for them, different process. For example, if you are an immigrant you have to have a show place before you came to the United States. If you are a refugee, no. If you are an immigrant you cannot apply for any kind of federal aid. If you are a refugee you can apply, you are able to apply. So it's two 7:00different populations. You are an immigrant you choose to come to the United States in one way. If you are a refugee you are escaping death. You escape your country to a second country. From the second country you apply to come to the United States. You could be like the Burundi right now; they spend 38 years in a refugee camp, versus myself who needs one year and a half to do the whole paperwork to come as a student. So I am an immigrant, but most other people who come to the center are both immigrants and refugees. So again, they are two totally different populations. So internationals is a big umbrella term.

AD: How many, if you can estimate. How many internationals are living in Louisville right now?

EM: 100,000, it would be the closer number to reality. This means that almost 1 8:00in every 7 residents in Louisville is born in another country. People don't gather this number.

AD: And how many of those 100,000 are Hispanic/Latino?

EM: I would say it's about 60,000. Sixty to 65,000.

AD: Okay. Can you describe some of the housing issues? Obviously there are two different tracks of refugees and immigrants that are facing internationals in Louisville.

EM: Well there are more than that because then you add into the immigrants and refugee, you have the social class issues. And it's a reality. Most immigrant coming to Louisville they will be from the management position up. Louisville is not such a huge city in the world that everyone wants to be there. You are coming here with a place to work and that means you have to have a security code at the top. For refugees, the first wave of refugees, the first group of 9:00refugees for any war, would be the ones who have more education; they are close to the power system both locally and with the United States. So when there was the war with Vietnam, the first wave of refugees was the military, the politicians, and the professionals. The same happened with Bosnia. The same happened with Cuba -- you always have the first wave who are ready to go and then you have the second, third, and fourth wave populations. So it's changing. The big change since 2005, 2007 on, is for the first time we are getting refugees who are Black. Coming from more African countries. Didn't happen before that. We used to have refugees, other than Vietnamese, we had Bosnians--all 10:00white. So now we start to have from the early 90's [unintelligble], from 2005 on, we start to have people from Burundi, Rwanda, from Sierra Leon, from Liberia, change the color of skin, all those people. The big problem with some of the populations coming, like the Burundis or the Somali Bantu, is they have a very low education level in their own country. You think a population -- I will go back to Burundi, the war thing. You have a population who spent 38 years in a refugee camp, so you have three generations without having any sense of what is normal life. They went to Kenya, the United States it called a third country, so you need to go to a second country and apply to come to the United States. So they went to Kenya. The Kenyan government says you cannot leave the refugee 11:00camp, so in reality; I will call it a concentration camp. You have the generation who escaped in 1972, you have the kids' generation getting old and getting married in the refugee camp and you have the kids born there. So you have at least three generations with the trauma and without any sense of what we'd call a minimal normal life. And then one day they are put on a plane and they arrive to Louisville. They don't speak the language, they don't understand the society. They don't know, literally, what is a car, they don't know what is a bathroom. They don't know what is a bed. They don't know what is a roof. So it is a huge - coming from the middle of the jungle literally, and not because they 12:00choose to be, but because they are escaping for their lives coming here.

So this is an example of how the adjustment to a new society can be so deep and so stressful. So when we are talking about alternatives for housing, how much do you know to take care of a house? But also, did you ever own a house? Do you know what is a checking account? Do you know what is a savings account? Do you know how to write a check? The most stressful thing, and I am talking from my own experience, was how to write checks and make sure I did not misspell the way to write the check. And then, why "one thousand two hundred" would be twelve hundred, did not make sense at the beginning. So you learn --

AD: Right, I can see that, that's confusing.


EM: Ok how you say this. How do you write this thing down? How you write this is different from how you say it. And then it's a tradition in your country -- when I come from Argentina 22 years ago, my tradition was you pay everything with cash. You don't use a check. If you use a check you would be looked at with some kind of suspicion.

AD: Oh wow [laughs].

EM: So you are here and everything is the other way around. And now with technological support I think few people carry cash anymore because you have a debit card. I don't want to have credit cards, so I have a debit card. So everything is like cash, it's still like cash. I don't carry cash with me, but its cash. So how do we explain this to a person who never owned one cent in their life? How do you explain to go to work and get dressed and etc., etc.. So there is a whole piece of education that I don't think we are not prepared yet 14:00to provide to a large population.

You asked me about Hispanics. Let's say that we are 60,000. There are 60,000, 44-46 would be undocumented. What does it mean? It means you have a large number of people who did not finish elementary school. Who are here because they want to work and they would be working in two, three, or four places. Everything is work. That they are afraid to be deported at any moment. Sadly, very sadly for me, President Obama holds the record on deportations. It's over one million persons who have been deported in 3 years. President Bush A in eight years deported 750,000. And I swear, for my life I want to understand this and I cannot make any sense. Because then you are asking me to support you and the 15:00promise was to change immigration law and you didn't. Yes, I know the political thing; the other side could be worse, and for you, you don't have alternatives. Perhaps we are going to have alternatives at one moment. But the point is, the immigration piece is really confusing. A, because you have different labels. B, because immigration law is crazy.

Today if you are an immigrant from Argentina, you are gay, lesbian whatever is your sexual orientation, you can get married in Argentina. It's legal marriage in Argentina. Now let's say we are a lesbian couple and I find myself here. From the moment I write down that I have a partner, the application is turned away to get the VISA, because the immigration law says homosexual people cannot come to the United States.

AD: Wow, I was not aware of that.


EM: So when we are talking about the need to change immigration law not just give a pass to the undocumented, it's because there are many things in the law that are absolutely out of time with the society that we have today. So this is one piece among other pieces of immigration.

So connected to housing. Most of the people would be renting. So the big difference - this is a whole conversation here. Until 2005 -- I would say any family coming to Americana was buying a house in three years.

AD: Before 2005?


EM: Any refugee first wave or second wave, in three years, most of them bought a house. What is the difference now? When you have widows, female widows, 26 years old with 4 or 5 or 6 kids there is no way in heaven that they can buy a house. They are going to be poor forever. And we can talk about, "Okay, when the kids become teenagers they can go to work some hours. That mother is going to be poor and rent forever and ever and ever. So unless we have a different look to support families to be independent, we are going to have the poor with us for the rest of the time. It's a totally different ball game that was before that. And this is not about the market. It's not just about the economy. The economy is a factor, no question, but, it's also you have a degree you are an attorney 18:00from Bosnia, you are not going to be an attorney here, but you can move in a different level of the power structure. It's going be longer, it's going to be harder. Perhaps you need to work in an area that it's not the law. But you know where you are going. When you never work in your life, what does it mean to go to the line, do the repetitive movement all the time? What does it mean that you don't have to speak, so you are not afraid to mess up and these are the low-skill work. So, it's a whole consequence when you have low education level refugees and low-education level immigrants. Hispanics I know because they want 19:00to work in the roof, landscaping, hotels, all jobs A, that no one wants to work and B, you don't need to interact with anyone. You just go, work and leave. And this happens when your English level is very low so you don't expose yourself to more depression than you already have.

Another component of what this all means for internationals, both refugees and immigrants, is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The social work literature say that 99.9% of the refugees are depressed. We used to have a needs assesment survey in the area. Actually we are planning to do it again. The last time we 20:00did it was about 4 or 5 years ago. And we started the first one in '94. So we have like 3 needs assesment in 20 years. And the consistent number is that 40% or 38.9% of the population that we survey around Americana, the old center and the new center are in the same area. Almost 40%, 38.95, something like that, were thinking about killing themselves 3 to 5 times per week. So this is the level of depression, we are not talking about I feel blue I want to be in bed for a couple of days because I don't want to move my body. This is talking about, do I kill myself or no and how do I do this. So the other side of the coin is resilience, how can you overcome whatever. We have kids who come to the center who have already killed people. We have kids who saw how their mother was raped, their father was raped, their parents were killed, and their grandparents were killed. And whatever horrible horror movie you can make with the human 21:00being at the low level, most of the population coming to the center already experienced that first hand. And there are -- the fact they are alive and moving is just amazing. So it's a lot of baggage you need to be sure one noise could be a trigger. One smell could be a trigger. One voice could be a trigger. One color of the wall could be a trigger. We don't know what could be. Three years ago in the summer program -- the summer program has over 125/150 kids, depends on the 22:00day. We know behavior is an issue. We know the game. That particular day everyone was going bananas, there was no way we could control. Every child in the center was like, crazy. And we were going around saying, "What is wrong today? What is wrong?" Finally one of my staffer said, "Hey, we have the plane above," and he had a good relation with one child and found a way to talk and the child say, "We are afraid they are going to bomb or drop soldiers." Things that never cross our mind. So we took all the kids outside to the parking lot and say this is a plane, see UPS, UPS, UPS, Southwest, Delta, Fed Ex, UPS. For 45, 50 minutes. Look at the sky and point out the planes and seeing--because we are five blocks away from the airport, so when they are going to land, they are going literally--depends on the week--above us. So after 45 minutes, 50 minutes, we say to the kids, "See, there are no soldiers, there are no bombs." Everyone 23:00was relaxed and we can do the programming.

Now in other centuries they had to live with that. Because one can imagine, I was talking, like talking with you right now, with a guy, with a guy from Bosnia who is 6'3", 6'4", professional, talking about issues and refugees and one of the plane goes down and this guy was under the table in one second, I don't know how he did it, I could not do it and I am only 5'10". I don't know how he did it. It's not just that he got under the table, he had to get out from under the table and feel the embarrassment to see a colleague saw that he got under the table. Because we are friends, no worries, I know why you did this, so let's move on and not talk about this. Because it's a natural reaction, but this 24:00didn't cross your mind ever, that at each plane, that your life could be endangered. So, how you move this experience to find a job that can provide enough money to have a house is some kind of challenge.

The other piece that you have mostly with refugees more than immigrants, but also immigrants that have this issue, is the role of the woman. Second class. So suddenly you have a widow that is open game for every man that is staying in the in the group, saying that if I buy you groceries, you are going to have sexual relations with me. It's not that way, but the culture is in that way. So I go to you with two bags of groceries and the response is supposed to be, "Thank you for the groceries, here is my body." It's not prostitution, but -- This is the 25:00culture. So how do we teach the role of the women in the different culture without violating the culture of their upbringing? How do we respect the tradition that you have, and at the same time say, you have rights here. And then are the stereotypes. Hispanic women say the idea that the man is the macho, is the head of the house. We are the neck, and we move the head in whatever direction we want. So you see the family structure of Hispanics, most of the time I would say 95% plus, the men give the whole salary to the wife. And the 26:00wife is the one who makes the decisions about how to spend the money. Also, the wife is the one who says to the kids if you don't behave I am going to tell your father you are not behaving. So the whole idea that the macho thing among Hispanics is, I would say, check out your glasses first,because most of the time it is stereotype. Yet, there are men who abuse women. There are white men who abuse women. There are black men who abuse women. There are yellow, purple, green, men who abuse women. So no, they are not perfect, not even close, but it's not what the stereotype says. Women are submissive and second class -- yes and no. Plus for me as an Argentine Latino, was a total surprise, the reality that, because I am man, I want to make more money than a female in the same 27:00position. This doesn't happen in Argentina since I started to work in the early '70's. I don't know of it ever happening. Because at least if I am going to work, it is about your responsibilities, it's about your salary. The fact that your genitalia is different is not a factor. So for me it was a huge adjustment to understand why this is going in the best country in the world.

The same thing about a lack of care to the poor. I'm tired of listening to people saying, "You are poor because you are lazy." I'm tired of it because it is not true. The thing that also bothers me a lot is this: I am Christian person. I go to church three times a week. Prayer meeting on Wednesday. Sunday 28:00school- I teach Sunday school and I attend service. I am well-involved in my faith. But I feel that I cannot communicate the values of the gospel in a society that uses religion to cover up whatever injustice is outside. My definition of a Christian is a person who is engaged in social justice. The way I read the Bible is, if you are not doing something for social justice, sorry you are not Christian. I am very nasty about this. Why? Because it is a system of injustice and we keep looking into charity. Everyone feels the heart full of joy, at Thanksgiving and Christmas, giving away baskets. So my question is why 29:00the heck do we have to do this. Because most of the people that are receiving this are the same people who got it last year and will receive it next year. So what is the system that is effecting this particular individual. That needs to be changed. And what we are doing to change this injustice? And the answer, is we don't care.

In my country, we went under military governance. I was detained because I refused to shave. And I thought I was going to be killed, so the fact that I am alive, I am happy. Women were prohibited to wear pants, because it's a man thing. But Christians who are not Catholic have to have special permit to open 30:00the church. I'm talking about Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopal, Methodist--everyone who is not Catholic has to have a special permit from the government to have a sanctuary. So I was a second class citizen in my own country. I knew that. I was not able to be president in my country because I was not Catholic. In the constitution--so okay, I grew up second class. What about coming here and being second class because my skin color is not white? I didn't know I was Hispanic. I did not know I was Latino. I knew what Latino was the general Latino language coming from the Latin, French, Romania, Spain, Portugal, and all Latin America. I never knew that was so important to have a box with my 31:00ethnicity. This is unjust because race is a social construct creation. We create race as a divider. We create a separation. We are not doing enough to change the education, the concept of what is race. The fact that any human being can have kids with any other human being with any shape way or form of body you have means that there is not a genetic difference. Why are we talking about race? Why we pretend we are supposed to be color blind, when there is no way you can be color blind?

AD: And how do you -- as we are talking about as people are coming in and have to learn everything. People have to learn that system here.

EM: You learn by experience. And you learn by deceiving. And you learn why I 32:00cannot get what other people get. It's not the same laws, but you don't know. You are an immigrant; you do not have the same rights you would have as a citizen. You don't have the same law, there are different laws. And people think the laws are for everyone. It's not equal, it's a lie. There is no way you can -- I want to use the right word because I don't want to be confused; the one that is coming to my mind is not a nice word. You can take from poor people millions and millions of dollars. And you going to spend 40 hours in jail and get out, and no one is going to say nothing. You go and steal a chicken and you will spend the rest of your life--more, and you cannot go vote again because it's a detention. So when you have this kind of law there is a big difference 33:00between the have not and the haves. Something is wrong in the system. I argue with all respect to my government, the United States, when I was a citizen. That from almost the beginning of the time, I would say from the beginning of the time, we don't have a government for the people by the people. When we have a Constitution, we the people, we the people were white Anglo Saxon male with properties. This was we the people. Then we had to make all the amendments to include more people. Then we get in to the civil rights movements, and okay we have now the rights to vote and we fight for that and etc... So suddenly Mr. Reagan starts to import drugs from Columbia and many in the CIA who are supposed 34:00to be working outside the United States work inside, and create a huge culture of drug addiction among who? Black people. So now we have a new Jim Crow area, it's a book, it's amazing, so nice. I know you read it.

AD: Yes, Michelle Alexander came and did our lecture.

EM: So you know we don't need to explain the book to you. But the point is, the goal is very clear: disenfranchise the poor of the system. And legally we cannot call it slaves, but we can call poor, "working class people." So again, how you can come from another country and understand you are going to be that label. Swallow hard because you are going to be in that label, but kill yourself so your kids can go one up. For me, coming to the United States was not so hard. I did not have to go through a huge cross-cultural shock. The clothes were the 35:00same. The time was almost the same. The weather was almost the same. I knew what a microwave was. I knew how to drive a car. I don't understand a bunch of stuff about physical space. I didn't understand the thing about hand symbols. I insulted a couple of people without knowing. Without the mic, I am going to tell you one experience later. I adjust to the checking, banking system. No big deal.

But I have a hard time adjusting to what is public schools. Singing Christian songs when supposed to be a separation between school and church. So I argue 36:00with a professor and the professor say, well because there is a huge Christian tradition in music. Okay, I can see that. Mostly because we are thinking on Europe. Do you do the research on other countries on the music they have on China, or any other Asian country? No. So how you can say, only you use Christian music when it's tradition when you don't have a clue about other traditions? But you know, Thanksgiving Day is Thanksgiving Day and Christmas time is Christmas time. And be prepared, because when your child is public school age, in first grade or kindergarten is going to come with a bunch of what I call, "Christian values" -- and again I am a practicing Christian. But for me if we have a separation we have a separation. The bottom line, the conclusion I 37:00come to is, it's a big difference between what we say that we are and what we really are. When France gave to us, the Statue of Liberty, was empty. We, the United States, add this poem, come we welcome everyone who escapes etc... [Amber begins to recite]-- We add this. We as a nation say this is we say what the statue is going to stand by. But the way, we are not going to do it.

So talking about immigrants we welcome people from Cuba. We kick all people from Haiti. Most of them come from the same situation: economical crisis, both of them. One has some political gain, the other [Inaudible] people for ever and ever. Another difference is you have black Cubans, but everyone in Haiti is 38:00black. It's a color picture there; actually it's what President Carter say. "We are rejecting Haitians because they are black, not because of anything else." So, you have a social injustice around housing and whatever way you go around. So how we can educate a person to adjust in your society understand the rules of the game, try to play by the rules of the game and at one point in life own a house? Again, like I say earlier, before 2005 people could make it. I don't see any hope for the next several years.


AD: One term that always comes up when talking about internationals is this idea of clustering. Some of the clustering of people from the same country, culture, language groups is voluntary. As in, because of all of these things you have to learn and face when you move into a new country, it's easier to move into an environment with people who come from your culture because they can help you. But then, how much of that is voluntary and how much is related to residential segregation?

EM: If you are an immigrant you can choose to live wherever you want. So mostly you are going to go to places where you know people so you can get the new social net. If your child is sick who is going to take care of your child when you need to go to work? I was talking with teachers the other day; we have forty elementary teachers, a nice group of folks, forty of them. You never thought of 40:00this when you are doing fundraising for the school and they send papers and all of the crap that they make you sell--

AD: cookies, ice cream.

EM: - whatever is it. You are assuming you have a social net where the kids can go--church, neighbor, aunts, uncles, grandparents. When you are from another country you don't have nothing like that. So your child is going to be the one who is not going to make a contribution to the common effort. And you feel terrible because you cannot buy because you don't have the money. So your child is never going to wear the special rope for the hair society, whatever it is, because they aren't going to put money in the pot. And it never crossed your mind, I'm sure it never crossed your mind, but that's part of the reality. So 41:00how do you live with that? Simple thing. How are you dealing with going to work? I am personal friend of the director of TARC; I am friends with Barry -- we very good friends. I'm tired of talking about public transportation. And it's not his fault in reality and I understand his point. We live in a society that believes one person one car. We don't think to ever talk to our neighbors. Hey, we are going to the same place perhaps two blocks apart. What about one week I drive you? We are not going to do that -- and this is one of the books at one point in my life I am going to write--

AD: [laughs]

EM: --the change in the United States from the 1980s on. From the 1980s on you 42:00have two big things in the United States in my theory. The young generation becomes more conservative than the older generation and this never happens in history before. And this is for me when society goes back because the young is supposed to be the ones change society not perpetuating the problems. The second problem from the '80s is we create a culture President Reagan was very smart I got to give him credit. To be in a culture, I myself am me. So it's a new whole thing of values that change from the '70's and I don't like so much TV, but you can make the point or I can make the point. In the '70's you have Chico and the Man. You have Barry Miller. Barry Miller is a police guy in New York and you have and Asian police, a police Hispanic, a white. You had diversity everywhere. You had shows like Dick Van Dyke, The Dick Van Dyke show. And Dick Van Dyke had 43:00a neighbor who would open the door, go into the refrigerator. And that was the way it was supposed to be at that time in the '60s. Today we would kill that person for trespassing because we went so far on the right about this is my property, this is my rights, that we don't create any environment to conversation. We don't use the porch anymore. We don't use sidewalks. Plenty of neighborhoods don't have sidewalks. That's intentionality there. Just for definition. And the other thing we become so used to air conditioners and furnace that we push the button in the car, the garage door open, we park, close 44:00the garage and I go into the cold air conditioner in my house. I was talking with my wife and kids the other day, I grew up and until I was 37 years old, we didn't have air conditioner in our house. Never. And you know what, we didn't need it. Today I cannot go one day, one hour, without air conditioner. So part of it is what we develop a habit, because unless I'm forced not to have air conditioner for the rest of my life, I will survive. I survived 37 years so I know that can be done. But the comfort thing, my comfort thing is so important. 45:00That I value my comfort over my relationship with people. And this is the change in society. So how we are also going over these things so-- cultural values, community oriented versus individualistic values. So when you are coming here you are learning that it's you, yourself, and good luck my friend because no one is going to give you a hand. You learn that the public schools are supposedly equal, but not so equal. My other son went to Central High School. He is a big guy.

AD: Central High School?

EM: Central High School. He a big guy, single. Looking to find a girl who want to meet him because he is not going to meet anyone. 6'5" Huge. [--] Big, big guy. He was playing football. That is another word football and you play with your hands. Football. This is for another conversation. So what I found out was 46:00that Central at that time did not have a field for training. They did have nothing. And we were going to play with Fern Creek; we were going to play with Ballard. Three, four fields; so understand today. How is this thing--all I think was public schools, why? It is a tricky thing the tax system, right? Depends on the neighborhood. If the person touches the taxes that you are giving to the local schools. This is another way to perpetrate injustice. Poor neighborhoods are going to have poor schools without resources. Rich neighborhoods are going to have a school with all the pieces of [--] So, perhaps the system needs to be changed to put all the money in the pot and divide it equal among the church- among the schools. I think that would be more equal than what we are having. So 47:00you need to learn with these kinds of injustice. You need to learn- you're talking about going back to original question is, you move to a neighborhood that you know people for social- neighbors for assimilation. This is an immigrant, you are a refugee. The actions that brought you here places you. You don't have a voice in the whole thing. You could live in Americana, [--] or you can be living New World, or living in six um, I don't know, whatever it is. In the '90's and I can tell you this because this is true, we can check the records in Metro Council. The elder [--] at the time, Mr. Johnson, who is Metro Council, [--] not Johnson. He was able to pass legislation saying that in order to spread out the cultural values of internationals coming to Louisville, your taxes and 48:00my taxes will go to give a subsidy to Catholic Charities and Kentucky Refugee Ministries to rent apartments in the East part of town and the subsidy would pay the difference between what they were supposed to be paying in Americana for example and what they would pay to Breckenridge in six months.

AD: And what year was this?

EM: It was, I would say '94, '95,' 96. Probably '96 or '95. So and the thing was on and perhaps it's on now, I don't know how the books from the city to the mayor's thing was-- So, few people realize that the idea was not to let the Asians to only live in this part of town. So--because he didn't want to have so much diversity. He says it a different way. Today he changes his mind, but that 49:00is another conversation. The point is we were giving a subsidy to agencies to put refugee's families in other places. I can tell you because I was working at Kentucky Refugee Ministries for year and a half and I can tell you where we were placing people. We were placing people in LaFontaine, Hikes and Bardstown Road, on Mellow Greens on Hikes on the left; there is a Bosnian group of people living there. By the Myers Middle School is a huge section of Cubans there. We were renting for Bosnians in Breckenridge in six months. So, yeah, we use the money all over, part of the east. Or east of here. That gives the refugees different schools to go, different neighborhoods to live etc--


The internationals both low income immigrants and refugees tend to buy houses close to work. So they are going to work and trying to buy a house close to work because they don't have transportation. Or if they need transportation they make sure there is a TARC line so they don't mess up. We have programs -- we have a partner with Highland Baptist Church in '94, '95. What we were doing is, they were funding members who donate their car and we would give the car to one refugee with the agreement that they would provide rides to other family members working, other refugee families working and the way to--this person goes to work. So with one car we were sending four families to work. And we got the cars 51:00until we didn't get any more cars. there was no chance, a free car is a free car, but you were supposed to provide rides for people who did not have a ride to work. So you make some value in the donation.

So again, you find a place to work and you try to find a house close by. And for the 3 millionth times, I don't see the actual population of refugee are going to buy a house in the near or long term future. Unless something happens - totally different happens in the system today. Even with the trust fund, I don't see how. Because there is the other political gain. Hey, you are the new on the block so you need to go, we were here first. I listen to this from black political leaders. I say to myself. I listened to this from white people. I say to myself. First class political activists, blacks say, I don't care. You are the new one, go to there.

It's the population, even 100,000 people is huge, it's huge - and even for the last twenty years the only growth that the city is having is with internationals. And we are in a state at least officially, right now that has more sympathy to internationals than used to have in the past. Kentucky is a white state -- as a state. Kentucky is a very conservative state. I argue with my political friends, they don't like me but I say the same, I don't care. Kentucky has one political party with two faces. A Republican party with a moderate Republican, that would be the Democrat, and the right wing Republicans. Any Democrat from Massachusetts would be scared to death here, actually they are. They cannot believe. Because we don't have any -- I will argue this and say this on the record, other than Mr. Yarmouth, you don't have any progressive thinker in the whole political spectrum that is officially Democrat. I don't know what they are, I don't know them. Everyone in the system very clear. The old boys club. You can change the faces; the people who hold the power are the same, fifteen families who use the power, including the African American families. This is not a white thing. This is a structural power by definition.

So how can we access housing, even low income housing? When you have loan from HUD to rent. You have kids working who are different sexes you have to have one room for each one. Why? Who decided that it is wrong for a mixed gender family? Because you know -- my family is all boys so I don't know from my own experience, but I have plenty of friends who grew up with sisters in the same room and they are normal, wonderful, regular people. Why? Because you are forcing the family to rent a bigger house. And in order to do so you are poor, you are sending them to a low income neighborhood. So who decided a woman's role is to be working or be at home. So if you are poor, you are to be out of your house and at work. Because if not, you are lazy. And a queen social welfare queen.

AD: A welfare queen.

EM: But if you are middle class up, you are supposed to be at home because your responsibility as a submissive wife is to take care of your kids. Who decide that? White men in Congress. This is connected to the political game. How your voice can be listened to? You are supposed to be a citizen. Right? So you wait five years to apply. And you apply and they lose your papers. You have to pay the whole thing again to apply again -- it's not cheap. And then it's "okay, you have to pass the medical test, the mental test, the historical test, the writing test", etc-- Okay, this could take years. They are reviewing cases from 1995 today. We are in 2012. And actually, I'm surprised because I know when Clinton ran for the second time they were moving papers like zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom, because they needed more votes for the Democrats. So the papers were like running. I think we are so far behind that they didn't catch up. So they are processing applications from 1995. Interestingly enough, if you are an immigrant now, immigrant -- and you can invest, I think that it's--it depends on the country, between $500,000 - $1 million and show that you are going to have jobs--up to three USA citizens, you go to the front of the line--

AD: [laughs] of course.

EM: - and you get residency within 48 hours and this is the law. This is the law. So, little for justice, so much for politics and human abuses.

The houses the people are living in [--] could be better, could be worse. My house, my personal house I live in Belmede, East End it's in the east. It's bigger than my house in Argentina -- what was my house in Argentina. The sizes of the houses are different; when you come from a big city the houses were small. I came from a huge city so the houses are smaller than here. The comfort area would be the same. I don't feel any difference. The crazy part is I know I'm going to be dead the day I am supposed to pay off my mortgage so I don't know how my kids are going to do that. Because I'm not going to be alive at the time. But you need to know the system - [Phone rings] Sorry.

You need to know the system to play -- you need to know the system to play the game and you don't know the system. So what you don't know is if you go to a bank that is in the West End, your rate will be higher than if you go to a bank that is on Hubbards Lane. You don't know that. You don't know that the realtor can help you put point, 1/3 or 1 point down or it depends on how you fill the paper. You don't know what financial institutions are there to take advantage of you or help you. So it's a lot uncertainty and you trust your friends. So for example there is a woman in Danville, KY, four blocks from Centre College who is helping Dreamers, do you know who is a Dreamer.

AD: mm hmm

EM: - to fill out the papers. This is a person taking advantage of the ethnicity, to cut people because if they pay $750 they can have the papers done. It's a huge lie, because the paper isn't even approved yet and this is a presidential order, Homeland Security, yesterday, sent some forms to be filled out. Yesterday. President Obama announced the fair..the DACA. So you have people from your own ethnicity trying to take advantage of you, so you do you trust? I know realtors who because they speak Spanish are making a lot of money. This is going to benefit the immigrant? Not necessarily. And the same happen with other groups not just Hispanics. So how do you know the person who says they are going to help you are really going to help you. So it's a truth element. Just trust. What the teachers say, what the doctors says is God talking to you so you will say yes to anything.

AD: I want to go back for a second when we were talking about the HUD regulations, about you know having the separate bedrooms for different genders and I know that is something that come up with international families and in some case because of large family size for people who are going into public housing, them not having units that have enough bedroom or enough space --

EM: Or they have to rent a huge house when they can rent an apartment or they are renting an apartment that has to be two apartment together.

AD: Oh okay.

EM: So, you have to spend 100% more than that you are spending. And this is part of the problem. Yes it's happening. So families are forced like any other family with many kids -- are forced to go to area that they are not supposed to be -- not one that they choose to be. But Section 8 is not going to cover that thing, so you need to [--] whether you are going to be homeless or no --

The other piece about housing before I forget is I have big concerns about the homeless population. I think it is used to - how to say be nice, be friends -- I think the homeless are used to perpetuate a population that need services, without working enough, hard enough to prevent homeless. I think that with 50% of the money we spend to put people to sleep every day we would save more families to go to the experience to become homeless. I think that we are not doing anything because of business, in a way. There are not intentionalities -- I don't see any intentionality coming from the federal government, the state, the local government, to focus on prevention. And it's a historical problem in the United States; you focus on the reaction to the problem and not prevention of the problem. What would be cheaper, safer, and healthier for everyone is if we can prevent the family to be in a shelter. Then wait for the family to get to the shelter before we act. It doesn't make sense at any level.

But we follow regulations. So you then you have the people living with this. I understand with the homeless am very clear -- you are going to have a population that is chronic homeless, they want, they choose, they prefer to be homeless -- fine. But I cannot swallow the fact that 12,000 kids according to what I was told are sleeping on the street. Because A - I don't think that is true, I don't think that it's true. So I want to know how we are counting these kids. B - If it is true, it's absolutely a shame that Louisville, Kentucky has 12,000 kids are going to sleep in a shelter tonight. I don't think there is room in any shelter for 12,000 kids. So it doesn't make - 2 + 2 = 4. If you are counting kids who are in the middle a family crisis, so the kids are sleeping at grandmas is one thing they are not homeless so don't count the kids as homeless. If you want to inflate the number, you can do that. I don't think it's ethical but you could do that. But we are talking about kids who are sleeping literally on the street; I don't think you can have 12,000.

AD: I think a lot of that number is the couch surfing, you know this person's house was foreclosed so they are living with grandma and grandpa.

EM: Well, this is not homeless yet. So then becomes, part of what I call the violin -- symptom.

AD: Yes [laughs].

EM: But you're right, the effort is not of prevention. So if we can go more in prevention we are going to have less headaches.

AD: As we wrap up here, do you have ideas about housing initiatives that are going on in other cities or even here in Louisville that are/could be positive for internationals.

EM: I don't know of anything, but I am going to share a couple of ideas. One is cooperative building. And this is something that is done in other counties, I did it in Argentina. So I know it can be done. Let's say that entity gets the money to buy the lot and you can get -- a machine to make blocks and you can get materials for the electrical installation, all the permits, all the things you have to have. You can ask 15, 20, 10 families to work on each other's house -- to build the house. And when you have the house built, at that time, you can say, "okay, number 5, this is number 5, number 7 (to) number seven. So no one knows which one will be their house - so it will be an equal effort because perhaps you're a building your own house right? So you don't want to mess up there. So a cooperative effort. The cooperative it has no sense of use in the United States - it can be used for food, for housing, it can be used for farms, you can create this equal system of cooperative. So housing as cooperative. I think it's something that potential that can be used and developed and improved.

The other is throw the political game with loans and all the crap -- and targeted families by neighborhoods or by needs. And offer better-- I would say --better banking opportunities. I'm not talking about Bank of Louisville, I'm talking about okay, if I need to pay a loan, a mortgage, and the best rate I can get is 4.2 what happens if I don't have credit history? So it would be 4.27 or 5. Or 7.5. So why we don't lock in some rates for a group of families that would not be cheaper than it's supposed to be, but not higher than it could be. I don't know what is the rate today, if the rate today is 3.9, let's make it 4.2 so everyone is making money, but you don't get charged 5.3 because you don't know the system. The other thing that we have to do better is that if someone can explain in plain English how the interest works for a mortgage, because there is a way to rip you, you know that.

But it has to be this way; the banks cannot keep making money it would be in a different projection, so you pay more of the principle and not all of the interest for many, many years. Because this is another thing, when I look the way I pay my mortgage it says, interest, interest, interest. I understand that they want to save their money, to serve the public and they are serving their pockets not the public. So don't lie. But how we can influence, can we have any community bank? Looking for an alternative way to serve the public. Can we have the city sponsoring some of these initiatives? Maybe not for everyone who is poor, but we can get the poorest of the poor something totally different.

I think the idea is how we can be more in cooperation with each other. More community orientated. I don't know of any project since I started living here that has a the word cooperative at all and we are kicking ourselves for that because it could be done. I know it could be done. It's done in third world countries. If it could be done there, it could be done here. We have more resources and it can be done.

And then we could look at areas in the past, and I don't know, I know the one the non-profit the River City Housing Cooperation and they used to have a different name in the past and I know because my wife used to be the director years ago when they start. I am very clear about the project they were having, buying houses in middle class neighborhoods and providing second soft mortgages so let's say the house market value is $100,000, we'll give you $20,000 discount if you are living there ten years. So the mortgage will be for $80,000 not for $100,000 - A. And B if you live for ten years this $20,000 forget it, it will be forgiven you don't have to worry about that. You have to live there for ten years and after that you make $20,000 for nothing. So this was part of HUD programming.

Why we are not intensify this type of programming. Why we are not working to provide more tools for the people who know how to do it and create opportunities for families. Because right now the only way that we have is Habitat. And Habitat is a very interesting model. But Habitat will be close to the cooperative system that I was saying, it's different what I'm talking about let's choose twenty families and they work. We can have volunteers too, but the point is that it's more of a self-effort to achieve the goal. I think there are alternatives. It's just, let's think outside the box. There is no way in this rich society that we don't have alternatives, there is no way.

AD: Anything else you want to mention that you didn't have a chance to on the recording?

EM: I think that's enough you need to clean this thing just in case.

AD: [laughs]

EM: Everyone to listen to that. No, I think that is it.

AD: Thank you so much.

EM: Thank you to you.