Monthly Archives: November 2010
Thanks to Monica and Lindsey at Rep Mike Quigley’s office for helping us secure the United States Capitol Visitor Center Congressional Meeting Room South on WED DEC 8th from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, where we will screen the 17 minute version of Tony & Janina’s American Wedding!!! – we’d love to have you in attendance – director Ruth Leitman and Tony Wasilewski will be in attendance – More info coming soon!!!
Tony’s lawyer Royal Berg has been a great supporter not only of Tony and the Wasilewski family, but also of the film, and has been a great ally for our efforts to screen the film, do outreach, and work toward compassionate immigration reform. We spoke with Royal today about how the film might be able to help Tony’s case, and be used to overturn 212 a(9)b, the 10 year bar that keeps Janina from returning to the US. Through Royal’s efforts, his colleague Richard Hanus is familiar with both Tony’s case, as well as the film. Attorney Hanus took it upon himself to draft letters to Sen Dick Durbin, and newly elected Sen Mark Kirk, asking them to review the 10 year bar, and overturn it, using Tony’s case as exemplified in the film as evidence that the penalty of the 10 year bar is out of scale with the ‘offense’ of being in this country and trying to obtain legal status. Please see Richard’s very powerful letters to these Senators below. Support Royal Berg, Richard Hanus, the Wasilewski family, and thousands of other families by going to the TAKE ACTION tab on our site (in the red bar across the top of our page), where you can quickly and easily send a message to President Obama demanding an end to the deportations, as well as urging that he take action to bring Janina and Brian back to the USA. Please use Attorney Hanus’ letters as an example of what each of us can do now to support a more compassionate immigration policy.
Blog Post from Ruth 11/21/10
It’s amazing what can happen in a week’s time:
We broadcast the film on WTTW Chicago, our local public television station, to an audience that includes the largest Polish community of any city outside of Warsaw – the broadcast received tremendous ratings… Stronger than public TV’s signature Doc series POV & Independent Lense – thanks for tuning in!
The next day, we screened at the Polish Film Festival to a new audience of Polonia – some were folks who saw the broadcast who wanted to meet Tony and hear more. They were asking themselves what happened to the activist Polish community of the 70′s and 80′s in Chicago? We have a new generation of engaged people here in Chicago – perhaps not as comfortable as their parents as the economy sinks and immigrants of all races are slapped with the blame.
A few days later, we screened the film at Agnes Scott College and met some energized young women studying art, religion, immigration & law. “What can we do?,” many asked – so we gave them some ‘home work’. Tony & I were joined on the panel by Immigration Attorney Sue Colussy, who spoke so knowledgeably about how convoluted US immigration policy is, and Professor Marie Marquardt, who was so passionate about how we change the natural patterns of migration, cultures and the global economy when we exercise intolerant policies towards immigrants in America.
We returned from Atlanta to Chicago in time for Tony to finally lose the fight to keep the Wasilewski family home. But Tony always picks himself up everyday to keep fighting the good fight. He always says, “We lost the battle, but we will not the lose War.” There IS a war in this country against the undocumented, and especially on people of color, in this case Latinos – this was self evident on the MSNBC town hall forum on immigration broadcast this week, where a group in small town Nebraska admitted that they did not like the changing face of their community. Inherent in their words was the sentiment that they don’t like the immigrants that are coming to their community, whether legal or undocumented. Talk of wanting to keep ‘illegal aliens’ out of their community seemed less interested in whether the immigrants have papers or not, and more about resisting the changing fabric of our country, and seemed tinged with racism. Their words made it clear that they have an issue with more than hearing Spanish spoken on their streets and in their businesses.
This is another reason why Tony’s story is so important now: Tony’s plight is reflective of the situation many Latinos find themselves in, and mirrors what happened to many white people who came here at the turn of the Century in search of the American Dream.
It is our aim to help the immigration reform movement to restore that dream to the students who wish to go to school and serve in our military, and to the families who have been forced apart by our government.
It is amazing….Everyday, someone tells us that we have changed the way they look at this issue – and everyday that happens, we know we are doing the right thing.
There is a vote scheduled in Congress for the Dream Act, Rep Gutierrez is in NY today and LA later this week garnering support. We have some people to move here! – so let’s go!
It’s been a whirlwind of screenings, meetings, outreach & press since we premiered the film just a few weeks ago. We have been getting so many thoughtful comments & letters sent to us and we wanted to share some with you.
If you have been to any of our screenings you have heard us mention that anti- immigration activists are writing their Representatives 10 times more than those of us who are who are pro-immigration reform. 10 TIMES AS MANY. That’s why when someone writes an article in the mainstream press that is pro- comprehensive immigration reform, it is usually followed by much hateful language perpetuating the stereotyping of the undocumented as the enemy.
So we fully expected to get inundated with anti-immigrant comments. Thankfully, WE WERE WRONG. We received very few of those. Always awaiting for the other show to drop, of course… But Most of what we have received were letters of outpouring support for the film, the family, the issue, how they can take action, help the Wasilewski’s and….. THAT THIS STORY CHANGED THEIR MIND. This is something I always knew was possible and why we worked so hard with very little financial & mainstream organizational support for this family & the film. We knew it could change hearts and minds. AND WE WERE RIGHT!
Have a look at some of the comments people have written directly to us. Add your own if you would like, share a comment or story. We would love to hear from you. Please help us continue to spread the word & TAKE ACTION
Thanks so much for all of the support. It means to much to us.
From the Tony and Janina’s American Wedding Facebook page:
De’Andra wrote – Tony & Janina I saw your documentary on wttw this morning and I just want you to know that your family is in my thoughts and prayers. Your family is in my heart! Just know if you need anything please reach out to my husband and I.
Michael wrote – I saw this documentary last night. I’m embaressed of my country’s immigration laws and the fact that Poles still need a visa to come into the US.
Christine wrote – Wow. Just, wow. Amazing yet frustrating. How can a nation founded by immigrants be so anti-immigrant? It doesn`t make any sense! Thanks for making this film.
Morayma wrote – It was a great but very sad documentary. I was glued to watching it, especially I’m from IL and an a child from immigrant parents. After it was over I was left with Great sadness. I am married, have a son and would NEVER want to be in a situation where my family is torn apart. My heart went out to Tony, janina and their son. I hope things are looking up for them. Please post updates as well.
Anabel wrote – working in a counseling center where we often do reports for immigrant familys, it’s heart breaking to see how the system is abusing this family..and on the same foot how scary to see so clearly the desperation, depression and suicide ideation from which Tony suffers. I truly hope he is getting help for himself….
Milena wrote – GREAT FILM RUTH!!!!!!!
Jady wrote – We under estimate the power of family and love-however, it is more than just an emotion or feeling its a fire that burns within us and will always prevail to stay strong no matter how far the distance, how long the journey, or how intense the suffering may be. At the end it is all worth it to be able to spend even one more minute with the one person you love….
Stay strong, I KNOW that it may be easier said than done, but you are in my prayers! ‚ô•
Please go out and support this cause!
Amy wrote – After watching this film, I learned I know nothing about the immigration laws in this country. It’s a must see. It will be on WTTW next week! Check out the website.
From the TonyandJanina.com emailbox:
Donna wrote: I just saw the documentary, and saw that Tony and Janina have spent over $90,000 since Janina was deported. Is there a fund set up to help the family? That needs to be done!
While I at first questioned why Tony waited until after his wife was deported in order to become a US citizen, now that does not matter. An American citizen – especially one who continues to fly the US flag, and who plans to give his son a US flag when he can finally return home – should be able to have his family here with him.
I hope the family can keep their faith that they will be reunited soon, but in the meantime, I think they probably need serious financial help. Please let me know if there is a fund for the family!
Darin wrote: i hope one day tony i can meet you, its 11/11/2010 and its about 930 and see your special on TV, im 46 years old and cant tell you how much i cried and how touched by your story. I could just give you a huge hug and cry with you. its a horrable thing and it total sucks, i do hope you get this message and we can write each other
Beattie wrote: I saw your story in PBS tonight regarding the plight you family has endured. It is beyond believe how barack Obama as a senator and Durbin as your senators fail you! And there is no excuse for Obama, as a president not to entervene in your case, at least get you the waiver. I was a democrat all my life; I saw how full of bs the democratic party is, I switch to be indepent. Rahm was conning to get your vote too. I feel really bad for your and especially your boy. There was not reason for this government to treat your this way. You might want to contact the newly elected senator, senator kirk to ask him for help. My advice to you, if rahm E is running for mayor of chicago…please do yourself a favor, DONT vote for him! You are now an American, ther must be a way for you to bring you wife and your son here asap! Please contact senator, Kirk’s office as soon as you can. As a naturalize US citizen myself…I am very angry at Durbin and Obama for ignoring your plight! PLease feel free to email me.
Anette wrote: I just saw your film on WTTW 11 tonight. My parents too are immigrants from Poland, but they immigrated here in the ’70s. Since I am a natural citizenship, I have taken for granted all of my rights and privileges as an American citizen. I wish you the best in getting Janina and Brian back to the US. My prayers are with you.
Lorna wrote: What a moving documentary. I first learned of this from the article in the Sunday Trib. I caught the interview on Channel 11 and started watching your story midway through. As an African-American woman, I have been removed from immigration matters in my own life. I am saddened that our immigration laws are so ridiculous. Tony and Janina, I will be praying for your continued strength and that you will find that secret place in God allowing you to live in His grace. (God’s grace is His ability to work in your life so that you are not doing it in your own strength.) I commend you that in this test, you have sought to do this in a way that honors who you are- a man and woman of integrity. I thank God that while your son may not understand now, he has such a magnificent example of what it means to do things the right way because it is the right thing to do. The result is that you, unknowingly, are bringing others, including myself, to a common understanding of the decisions we make and the impact it makes on others. We are truly a part of the human race. Your pain is my pain. Your joy is my joy. Your stance is bringing all of us together for the greater good of justice for everyone. Thank you and God Bless.
Gerald wrote: Interesting story, have you tried changing your wife’s name in Poland then obtaining a visa for her with her new name. Then marry her with her new name. Then apply for her new status. There is statutory law and non-statutory law which is common law of the land. Meaning there is a commerce name and the living person, if she changes her name legally in poland then that is her living person name. This is not fraud because she has changed her name and was in the country on a different name, I would look at the application for citizenship to see if there are any questions related to this just to make sure. Also, I would send Mark Kirk an email or stop by his office and say that this would be a good opportunity to line up the Polish vote since I see you voted Democratic. I am against immigration reform but believe if someone goes through the process like yourself that you are entitled citizenship for your entire family
Marek wrote: Shame on you! stupid Polish people helping MEXICANS with immigration agenda.What did you get from this stupid?
Ruth and Tony will present the film, and lead a Q&A with members of the Agnes Scott faculty, and representatives from Georgia’s immigration movement on Monday Nov 15 at 7pm at Agnes Scott College in Decatur GA.¬† Special thanks for LISA ALEMBIC – it’s because of her that this event is happening!¬† See you in Decatur tomorrow!
Join Ruth and Tony in Chicago at the Polish Film Festival in America screening at the Gallery Theater at 9pm on Friday November 12th, and again in Decatur, GA at Agnes Scott College on Monday November 15th at 7pm. Looking forward to screenings and hope to see you there!
This week is shaping up to be very busy for T&JAW.¬† Thursday 11/11, Tony and Ruth will be guests on CHICAGO TONIGHT, the long running public television show on WTTW, for a pre-broadcast interview at 7pm.¬† Then, at 8pm that night, WTTW (Channel 11) will broadcast the film.¬† Be sure to tune in!¬† Friday 11/12, the film plays at the Gallery Theater as part of the Polish Film Festival.¬† Then, on Monday 11/15, Tony and Ruth head to Atlanta (well, Decatur actually), GA to present the film at Agnes Scott College at 7pm.¬† Hope you can join us at one of these events.