Guatemalan Consulate yields varied panel

By Cris Marshall

The Guatemalan Consulate comes to Fort Wayne every year to help Guatemalan nationals renew their Ids and passports. Parishoner Jaime Palma is a leader in our local Guatemalan community. This year, Palma and local businessman Fernando Zapari hosted a guest panel to address issues affected new residents in our community.

The panel consisted of: Mayor Tom Henry, City Hispanic Liaison Vanessa Myers, Bishop D’Arcy, Father TimWroczek of Sain t Joseph’s Catholic Church, Sheriff Ken Fries, and Guatemalan Consulate Gustavo Lopez Calderon. Each talked a little about their role in community relations with newcomers and then fielded questions from the audience.

Mayor Tom Henry acknowledged the challenges faced by the city in welcoming newcomers - he said, “This is good because it shows we are a good city - it is a good place for people to be; but it is also a challenge because we need to be able to provide resources - I stand with you to ensure that you believe that Fort Wayne is indeed a good place to be.” Henry also discussed the possibility of the city’s investment in an Immigrant Welcome Center. He also introduced Vanessa Myers as the Hispanic Liaison for the City of Fort Wayne.

Calderon thanked everyone for helping the Guatemalan community - showing support - and said he hoped that in the future “the ID obtained today, with high-tech fingerprint technology, would someday be able to be used in Fort Wayne as a “real” photo ID.

Bishop D’Arcy appealed to everyone to “live up to the law of God and City - but churches give the word of God. We give sacrament to everyone - documented or undocumented - we see everyone as children of God. But, as the great Pope John Paul II said, ‘Education is the only way out of poverty.’ There need to be more Latinos in schools - and colleges.” D’Arcy also reminisced about his own parents’ flight=2 0from Poland and how if it were not for the ability of their immigration into the United States, they may not have been able to live. Wroczek acknowledged the same dedication to immigrants in St. Joseph’s parish.

Sheriff Ken Fries was asked many questions about alleged abuses of power of jail employees and sheriff patrolmen. Fries said that he had fired many people but that he had not heard of specific complaints alleging mistreatment of Latinos in jail or on routine traffic stops. Fries stated, “If there is a complaint, I urge you to go through the proper process and initiate an official complaint.”