Please join us at the American Heritage Center for the first stop on C.J. Box’s Shots Fired book tour!
Watch this video message from AHC director Mark Greene to find out how monetary gifts are used. You’ll find more information about giving to the AHC located here, should you be interested.
“I lived the American dream, building a successful career as a journalist, but I was living a lie…I’m actually an undocumented immigrant,” said Jose Antonio Vargas to radio weekly Democracy Now! in a recent interview. He has shared his experiences with the world since he outed himself in 2011 as an undocumented immigrant in an essay published in The New York Times Magazine (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/magazine/my-life-as-an-undocumented-immigrant.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0). Now a new film chronicles his experience. It’s called Documented: A Film by an Undocumented American.
Documented narrates Vargas’ journey to America from the Philippines as a child and his more recent journey through America as an immigration reform activist. Vargas’ story is told against the backdrop of Washington’s stalled immigration debate to highlight the pain of family separation and the frustration of undeveloped potential for the estimated 12 million+ undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
Vargas was born in the Philippines. His mother flew him at age 12 to live with his grandparents in the U.S. He realized when he tried to apply for a driver’s license at age 16 that he is an undocumented immigrant. He was four months too old to qualify for the Obama administration’s 2012 policy of deferring deportation and offering work authorization to undocumented immigrants who arrived as children.
Jose Antonio Vargas will be the keynote speaker for a symposium sponsored by the Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership, which is housed at the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center. The September 18 event will, among other things, explore the themes of nationhood, citizenship and belonging; values and social otherness; borders; questions of social justice; individual, national and cultural identities; the ways in which people reinvent themselves, their cultures and their worlds in new contexts; and the role language plays in controversial conversations such as assimilation and education.
Information about the symposium and links to the latest news on immigration reform can be found at http://www.uwyo.edu/ahc/about/departments/simpson/immigration/. Information about the film Documented can be found at http://documentedthefilm.com/. The film will be shown in Denver on June 20 at the Sie FilmCenter at 2510 E Colfax Avenue.
-Leslie Waggener, Simpson Institute Archivist
Today the American Heritage Center honors military veterans and those in active duty; and commemorate those who never came home. Thank you.
On this day in 1927 Charles Lindbergh landed his plane in Paris and gained instant fame for being the first to fly across the Atlantic solo. In honor of this day in aviation history the American Heritage Center is excited to highlight some of its aviation collections.
Richard Leferink learned to fly during World War I. When the war ended he eventually settled in Wyoming and started an air cargo business throughout Wyoming, Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, and even Canada. Leferink’s collection includes scrapbooks and correspondence kept through his aeronautical career.
Martin Jensen was an innovator in aviation history by researching and designing new aircraft as well building a place in the business of aviation, including the establishment of his own company. Jensen was also a seasoned stunt pilot, and participated in the 1927 James D. Dole Derby Trans-Pacific Air Race. Jensen’s collection includes photographs, scrapbooks, and correspondence about his aeronautic developments.
Jensen’s collection is not the only aviation collection featuring aviation developments and business. The Manufacturers Aircraft Association encouraged and aided aeronautical development. The association’s records contain information about different companies, designs and patents, expositions, and competitions. Trans World Airlines contain records regarding not only the company but aircraft vendors as well, including Boeing and Lockheed.
American Heritage Center aviation collections also go beyond U.S. history. For example Wolfgang Klemperer’s papers (an aeronautical engineer who did eventually come to the U.S.) contain visuals of German aviation during World War I.For more information regarding the American Heritage Center’s aviation and other transportation records collection guides are available online. In addition, some photos and other material from aeronautical collections have been digitized and are accessible through our digital collections site.
-Amanda Stow, Reference Archivist
Immigration reform is a topic of local, state, and national concern, but why would the Simpson Institute have particular interest in this topic? The namesake of the Alan K. Simpson Institute for Western Politics and Leadership was once at the forefront of the immigration debate. Almost thirty years have passed since the Simpson-Mazzoli Immigration Reform and Control Act was passed in 1986 in order to stem the tide of illegal immigration. Former Wyoming Republican Senator Alan Simpson co-sponsored the legislation together with Democratic Rep. Romano Mazzoli from Kentucky.
Neither lawmaker was a natural fit since this issue little affected their constituents, they were plunged into a position of leadership as chairs of their respective immigration subcommittees. Nevertheless, Senator Simpson had a passion for the issue. He recalled in a March 2014 Daily Beast interview that, as a young lawyer, he saw Hispanic workers flown into Park County, Wyoming to pick sugar beets. They were called “braceros” and by 1964, when an excess of “illegal” agricultural workers occurred, “Operation Wetback” deported them. Simpson recollects, “I helped a lot of them when they were screwed by car dealers, things like that.”
According to Simpson and Mazzoli, the 1986 act had three “legs.” The two politicians noted in a 2006 reflective Washington Post piece, “We quickly realized that if immigration reform was to work and be fair it had to be a ‘three-legged stool.’ If one leg failed, so would the entire bill.” “Leg one” was improved security against illegal crossings at the Mexican border and, for the first time, penalties imposed on employers who knowingly hired undocumented workers. “Leg two” was the H-2A Visa temporary program for agricultural workers, designed to ensure wage and workplace protections and not to be another exploitative “bracero” program. “Leg three” was “legalization,” by allowing some, but not all, undocumented aliens then living and working in the U.S. to regularize their unlawful status and begin to earn permanent residency and citizenship.
What is the legacy of the Immigration Reform and Control Act? Results depend on the eye of the beholder. Thanks to the act, about 3 million formerly undocumented immigrants who had arrived in the U.S. before 1982 were granted residency and a chance for U.S. citizenship. But, instead of slowing the flow of people across the border, illegal immigration accelerated. According to Simpson, “The bill didn’t work because they took the guts out the night before.” This refers to a more secure “identifier system” for workers that received fervent opposition from both the left and the right, who labeled it a national ID card. The security measure was pulled from the bill, effectively killing the legislation. In the aftermath of the bill’s passage, there were raids as the federal government cracked down on employers that knowingly hired illegals, but enforcement lagged, and nothing really changed. “The real irony for me,” Simpson said in the Washington Post interview, “is that congressional Republicans are talking about retinal scans and fingerprints, and I haven’t seen a single article about a slippery slope to a national ID.”
For more information about the Simpson Institute’s immigration symposium, see our website at: http://www.uwyo.edu/ahc/about/departments/simpson/immigration/index.html.
-Leslie Waggener, Simpson Institute Archivist