The State: The Impossible Dream?

Latino immigration is driven by family values. Immigration law is not. The result is a mess for immigrants and lawmakers alike.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph by Keith Mosher http://kamphotography.com

 

During a trip to visit family in Mexico, Manuel, a naturalized United States citizen and a Wilmington resident since 1996, met Juanita. In February 2001 he returned to Mexico, married her, then applied for an alien residence card (ARC), which would make her a legal resident of the United States. He was told it would take five years for Juanita to receive her papers.

It was their dream to live together here, yet Juanita, unwilling to remain separated from her new husband for so long, decided to slip into this country illegally. She made it to Wilmington in January 2002, then, over the next 3½ years, gave birth to two children. She also received word that approval of her legal status was ready.

There was one final requirement to fulfill: Juanita had to return to Mexico to obtain her ARC. She would then be able to re-enter this country as a legally documented alien. So in September Manuel bid his wife Juanita and their two children a warm good-bye, expecting to see them again in a few days.

But during an interview at the American consulate in Mexico, Juanita made the mistake of admitting her original illegal entry into the United States.

The hammer came down.

Officials told Juanita that illegal entry would bar her from returning to the United States for 10 years. She could reduce that wait to perhaps one year, provided she obtain a waiver claiming an extreme hardship in remaining separated from her husband.

So Juanita waits in Mexico for that waiver. In the meantime, her children are being Mexicanized rather than Americanized (their births here make them United States citizens), while Manuel fights loneliness and bouts of depression back in Wilmington, wondering when he can reunite his family.

The family made one mistake in trying to immigrate here: They tried to do it legally.

It is a story repeated countless times by what the Census Bureau estimates to be 8 million to 9 million illegal immigrants in the United States. In Delaware, estimates run from 13,500 up to 35,000. Immigrants are driven here by crushing poverty in their homelands, yet the story seems equally driven by a legal immigration system that is beyond repair.

"Most of the legal issues are related to a legal immigrant trying to get a family member into the country now," says Rich Hogan, a Wilmington attorney who specializes in immigration issues. For him, immigration is as much about family and family law as anything else. And immigration law is not working in favor of family.

"The attempt to reunite family members legally, even when all documentation is in place, can easily take five years or more," says Hogan.

And depending on your country of origin, it can take a lot longer. According to the U.S. Department of State, Mexican applications filed in 1993 for entry of the unmarried sons and daughters of legal residents are only now being considered. In other words, parents who left newborns in Mexico in 1993 are still struggling to bring them here legally. Those newborns are teenagers now.

Even some of "illegal" immigration's most vocal critics express surprise at the delays faced by legal immigrants who are trying to reunite their families. Elsmere councilman John Jaremchuk had introduced two measures to curtail the flow of undocumented immigrants into his town. When presented with data on the lengthy delays in processing legal documentation for entry into the country, Jaremchuk expressed surprise and sympathy. His solution, however, was a short and simple one.

"It should be fixed at the federal level," he says. "The problems are unfortunate, but with the consequences we're suffering, it shouldn't have to become our problem. It's also unfair to those who have come here following the legal process."

Through Elsmere Police, Jaremchuk, chief of investigative services for the Court of Common Pleas, can cite first-hand accounts of criminal activity he claims is on the rise in Elsmere as a result of illegal immigration.

"There have been gang-related murders involving illegals, as well as an increase in sexual predators," he says. "And there is an increase in violations related to unregistered vehicles, invalid or no driver's licenses and proof of insurance." Jaremchuk also points to the increased congestion and eyesores caused by multiple occupancies of single-family residences and automobiles parked on lawns.

"I've knocked on a lot of doors in campaigning for the state Senate, and it is darn near unanimous that people here in the 13th district are angry about illegal immigration," he says.

Jaremchuk believes there is a litany of ills associated with illegal immigration, including job losses, depressed wages, strained social services and health care, and rising crime. What makes Jaremchuk different from critics who rely on the stereotypes and prejudices against foreigners is that he bases his position on personal experience and the experience of others to whom he has spoken.

"I know African-American bricklayers who lost their $10-an-hour jobs to temporary agencies hiring unskilled and undocumented aliens for $6 an hour," Jaremchuk says.

Undocumented immigrants in Delaware received an estimated $7 million under Medicaid programs for pregnant women and children under 19. A recent Pew Hispanic Center study calculated $52 million in additional costs to educate the children of undocumented immigrants in Delaware. This compares to a 2004 Federation for American Immigration Reform estimate of $53.8 million for Delaware to educate both undocumented immigrant children and the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. (The Delaware Department of Education has no statistics.)

Yet those who support Delaware's immigrant population, legal and undocumented, cite experiences that cast a very different light on the issue.

"My experience with undocumented immigrants is that they come here simply to work, because they realize if they don't work, they don't eat," says Margaret Reyes, a member of the board of La Esperanza, a Georgetown-based group that helps immigrants find employment, get education, and achieve self-sufficiency and citizenship.

"The crimes they commit are ones of necessity," Reyes says. "Motor vehicle violations related to registration, licensing and insurance are all due to undocumented status. Being in this country without documentation makes it impossible to change that status under current law. So they must live with the constant risk of being caught for violations of law they're unable to comply with in the first place."

As an analogy, she cites the looting that took place in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. "Would anyone want to see those people who looted stores for milk, food, diapers and other necessities for their survival prosecuted as criminals? It is out of necessity only that these other laws are being broken."

Further, Reyes does not believe undocumented immigrants are taking jobs from Americans. "There's been no rise in unemployment, and since reputable employers must pay either federally established minimum wages or those set by terms of immigrant work visas, there is no evidence that wages are being depressed."

She also believes undocumented immigrants do not avail themselves of many social services or free medical assistance, for fear their status will come to the attention of authorities. "My experience is that most undocumented immigrants will pay cash for emergency room services," Reyes says.

Reyes' and Jaremchuk's experiences, perceptions and conclusions are very different. Perhaps both are right. The first lesson of this experience with the country's history of immigration is that no one set of facts fits every reality. The stories, conditions, behaviors and effects of undocumented immigration are as varied as the immigrants are individual. But most stories seem to begin and end with family.

Vicente arrived in Georgetown from Mexico eight years ago. He had planned to work a year to send money home to his parents and six siblings. "I wanted to earn enough money to help my parents buy some land, build a home and then farm it to feed ourselves."

The family earns the equivalent of $8,000 a year. Vicente sends them about $15,000 a year of the money he earns as a line supervisor in a Sussex County poultry plant. But he has not seen his family since he left Mexico, and he no longer views going home as an option.

"I did not learn English when I first came here because I did not believe I was going to stay," Vicente says. "Now I am learning English in order to get a better job here."

Others describe their native home as one of overwhelming poverty, where working from five in the morning until 10 at night still does not provide enough income to feed a family, even on a subsistence diet of beans and rice.

Guadalupe could earn, at most, $60 per week as a housekeeper in her native El Salvador. Here she earns $400 per week. She has been able to provide a home for herself here, as well as two for her extended family in El Salvador, where they had previously been able to rent a home about half the size of a school classroom. "My mother is sick and needs expensive medicines, which I can only provide by working in this country," Guadalupe says.

Guadalupe lives here under a temporary protected status visa. It can be revoked at any time, and her future legal status is not guaranteed. If her visa isn't extended upon its expiration in September, she could fall into undocumented status.

And this is one of the under-reported facts of undocumented immigrants: They arrived with legal status, but have since lost it through no fault or action of their own. Facing dim prospects upon their return home, many choose to remain, taking a chance that the system will not catch up with them.

Maria's mother fled civil uprising in El Salvador, where both her mother's husband and her father had been killed by rebels. Her mother's application for asylum was denied in 1991, so she came here illegally. She remained separated from Maria and the rest of the family for almost 10 years. "My mother considered bringing us in illegally, but did not want that kind of life for us," Maria says.

Her mother finally obtained legal residency in 2000, allowing her to bring Maria and others into the country legally. "But I was separated from my mother for all that time," Maria says. "It's very hard to get back to being a family again after being separated for so long."

Estrangement from family is the theme that binds all immigrant stories. For a country that trumpets its commitment to family values, the United States immigration system often disintegrates family ties with the same effectiveness slavery once did.

Delaware may be one state where the pain of separation may be softened. Latino immigrants come because the state seems to share the same values and environment many immigrants had to leave behind, according to Maria Matos, executive director of Wilmington's Latin American Community Center.

Matos says the two hours it takes to traverse the state and the lack of big cities create a "sense of smallness" most Latino immigrants find comfortable. "In communities such as Georgetown and Elsmere, you can walk from one side of town to the other," Matos says. "It's that kind of size that makes Delaware attractive to Latinos."

Along the main drag in Elsmere, new businesses with names such as El Amigo, Taqueria Laras, Mariscos Los Del Fines, Manos Latina Restaurant and La Columbianita show that our newest immigrants are here to stay and working their way up the economic ladder—the way previous generations of immigrants did.

"Latinos of all nationalities are drawn together by their common language and culture," Matos says. "And they enjoy sharing their national differences such as food and music."

That sense of community transcends the matter of documentation, Matos says. "Undocumenteds are quite open about telling their fellow Latinos they have no papers," she says. "And the legal immigrants embrace them even more intensely, perhaps because they are aware of how some have been treated."

This would seem to undermine the argument that legal immigrants resent illegally arriving

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January 2017

January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

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The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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January 14, 15, 16 – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Invention Convention Lights, camera, action! This year’s Invention Convention features hands-on video...

Cost: $8 for adults, $6 for children between 4 and 14, and free for children under 4 a

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Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
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Sponsor: Hagley Museum
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
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Belly Dance Classes with Zahra Beginner & intermediate classes open to teens and adults Sundays in January starting Jan 8th Beginner: 2:30-3:30 p.m. Intermediate: 1 - 2 p.m (must get...

Cost: $15-$42

Where:
Take the Lead Studio
320 Lantana Drive
Hockessin , DE  19711
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Sponsor: Take the Lead
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Elements of Nutrition
4710 Kirkwood Hwy
Wilmington, DE  19808
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Sponsor: Rocker Soaps + Herbals
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Contact Name: Rachel Binkley
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The Pond Ice Arena
101 John Campbell Rd
Newark, DE  19711
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Sponsor: Diamond State Curling Club
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society will present its popular What Makes Us Tick? program during the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, January 13-15. This analytical film and discussion series...

Cost: $9 - $10

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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Cost: $12 ADV- $14 DOS

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
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Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-658-9111
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Cost: $20 for Members, $25 for Non-Members.

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
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Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

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Cost: Free with Admission

Where:
Delaware Museum of Natural History
4840 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Telephone: 130-265-89111
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January 14, 15, 16 – Saturday, Sunday, and Monday – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Invention Convention Lights, camera, action! This year’s Invention Convention features hands-on video...

Cost: $8 for adults, $6 for children between 4 and 14, and free for children under 4 a

Where:
Hagley Museum
201 Hagley Creek Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Hagley Museum
Telephone: (302) 65802400 x 238
Contact Name: Jessica Eisenbrey
Website »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
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Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
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East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmers Market Nov 8, 2016 - April 11, 2017  11 am- 2 pm 25 vendors Location:  East Coast Garden Center 30366 Cordrey Rd Millsboro, DE 19966 302-945-3489

Cost: frr

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Telephone: 302-945-3489
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East Coast Garden Center Indoor Farmer's Marke 25 vendors

Cost: Free

Where:
East Coast Garden Center
30366 Cordrey Rd
Millsboro, DE  19966
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Telephone: 302-945-3489
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A four-week series of ballroom dancing classes taught by teachers from the BlueBallroom. Tuesdays starting Jan. 10. Classes are $30 a lesson for Non-Members. Non-Member slots are limited. For...

Cost: $30

Where:
University and Whist Club
805 N Broom St
Wilmington, DE  19806
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The Cinema & the Arts film series proudly presents a screening of the documentary ART BASTARD on  Tuesday, January 17, 7:00 pm, at Cinema Art Theater, 17701 Dartmouth Drive in Dartmouth Plaza,...

Cost: $9

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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Cost: FREE

Where:
Legislative Hall Library
411 Legislative Ave.
Dover, DE  19901
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Sponsor: Division of Public Health
Telephone: 800-282-8672
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Do you want to learn how to make soap? This is your chance! Join me for a fun and informative class @ Liquid Alchemy. I will teach you how to create your own recipe and the in-and-outs of soap...

Cost: 45.00

Where:
Liquid Alchemy
28 Brookside Dr.
Wilmington, DE  19804
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Sponsor: Rocker Soaps + Herbals
Telephone: 302-544-0391
Contact Name: Rachel Binkley
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Do you want to learn how to make soap? This is your chance! Join me for a fun and informative class @ Liquid Alchemy. I will teach you how to create your own recipe and the in-and-outs of soap...

Cost: 45

Where:
Liquid Alchemy
28 Brookside Dr.
, DE  19804
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Sponsor: Rocker Soaps + Herbals
Telephone: 302-544-0391
Contact Name: Rachel Binkley
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30AM-12:00PM Fall session: Thursday, Dec 1st thru Thursday, December 15th Winter session: Tuesday, January 17th thru Thursday, March 30th   Drop in on Nature is...

Cost: see description

Where:
The Annex
501 Chandler Mill Rd
Kennett Square, PA  19348
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
Website »

More information

Thursdays from 4:00PM-5:30PM Fall session: December 1st, 8th and 15th Winter session: Starts January 19th, every other Thursday until March 30th This program is based entirely outdoors and is...

Cost: Cost: $30 for TLC members / $40 for non-members

Where:
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
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Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
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Guest speakers Patty Dailey-Lewis, executive director of the Beau Biden Foundation, and Delaware Family Court commissioner Loretta Young will discuss how participation in social media can too...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilmington University - Doberstein Admissions Ctr.
320 N DuPont Highway
New Castle, DE  19805
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Sponsor: Wilmington University College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
Telephone: 302-295-1164
Contact Name: Dr. Johanna Bishop
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The 3rd Place and Bike Lane Cafe along with WestSide Grows and Delaware Permaculture bring you the West 7th Street Bazaar.  Happening EVERY 3rd Thursday from January through May, there will be...

Cost: Free Admission

Where:
The 3rd Place
1139 W. 7th Street
Wilmington, DE  19805
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Sponsor: West Side Grows
Telephone: 302-690-9459
Contact Name: Delaware Permaculture
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January 19 – Thursday – 6:30 p.m. Research Seminar: Amyrs Williams (Wesleyan University) – Reimagining the Modern Farm The seminar is open to the public and is based on a paper that is...

Cost: $0

Where:
Copeland Room, Hagley Library
298 Buck Road
Wilmington, DE  19807
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Sponsor: Hagley Museum & Library
Telephone: (302) 65802400
Contact Name: Carol Lockman
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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
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Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
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HIGH & MIGHTY BRASS BAND There’s a reason that musical trailblazers from Galactic to DJ Logic have recently chosen to collaborate with High and Mighty Brass Band! and legends such as Dr. John,...

Cost: $15

Where:
World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

Tutto Fresco has live entertainment every Friday night from 6:30–9:30 p.m. Call for details. http://tuttofrescode.com/

Where:
Tutto Fresco
514 Philadelphia Pike
Wilmington, DE  19809
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Cost: $10

Where:
World Cafe Live At The Queen
500 N Market St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Meeting every Friday, Bayhealth Kent General Hospital, 640 s. State Street, Dover, 7:30 pm., Private Dining Room #3 in the basement. For those who have, or think they may have a gambling problem....

Cost: 0.00

Where:
Bayhealth Kent General Hospital
640 S. State Street
Private Dining Room #3
Dover, DE  19901
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Telephone: 800-855-2CALLGA
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Ah, typecasting—the baritone is always the bad guy! In Devils, Drunks & Dastardly Dudes, we’ll go on an operatic journey of men behaving badly. We’ll add a tenor to the mix, too… but we...

Cost: $29-$59

Where:
OperaDelaware Studio
4 South Poplar St.
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Sponsor: OperaDelaware
Telephone: 302-442-7809
Contact Name: Mary Wilcosky
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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

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January 3 - 28  “Winter Group Show” Rotating Group Show features a variety of art in different styles and media. Custom Framing & Gift Certificates are always available. Gallery Hours:...

Cost: free

Where:
The Station Gallery
3922 Kennett Pike
Greenville, DE  19807
View map »


Telephone: 302-654-8638
Website »

More information

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Cost: $30 per person

Where:
Delaware College of Art and Design
600 N. Market St.
Wilmington, DE  19081
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Sponsor: Delaware College of Art and Design
Telephone: 302-622-8000 x 123
Contact Name: Mark Tajzler
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From foxes and beavers to cats and dogs, all mammals benefit from open space! Discover the signs of mammals in winter and learn about human impact on mammal habitat and population survival. Join...

Cost: FREE for TLC members / $10 for non-members

Where:
Bucktoe Creek Preserve
432 Sharp Rd
Avondale, PA  19311
View map »


Sponsor: The Land Conservancy
Telephone: 610-347-0347 ext.104
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Cost: $15 - $25

Where:
Cape Henlopen High School Theater
1250 Kings Highway
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 130-264-59095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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The Rehoboth Beach Film Society announces the next play in the exciting series of National Theatre Live screenings. National Theatre Live is a groundbreaking project that presents the best of...

Cost: $18-$20

Where:
Cinema Art Theater
17701 Dartmouth Drive, #2
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Rehoboth Beach Film Society
Telephone: 302-645-9095
Contact Name: Jeri Kaplan
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Cost: $30. Ages 10-18 and one adult per youth.

Where:
Bethel United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall
Fourth & Market Streets
Lewes, DE  19958
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Sponsor: Coastal Concerts, Inc.
Telephone: 888-212-6458
Contact Name: Edna Ellett
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Cost: 45

Where:
Ballroom at University and Whist Club
805 N. Broom St.
Wilmington, DE  19806
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Cost: $20 General Admission

Where:
Frankford Fire Hall
7 Main Street
Frankford, DE  19945
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The Resident Ensemble Players, Delaware’s professional acting company performing at the University of Delaware, presents The Bells by Theresa Rebeck. During the great Yukon gold rush of the...

Cost: $15 - $30

Where:
Thompson Theatre, Roselle Center for the Arts
110 Orchard Rd.
Newark, DE  19716
View map »


Sponsor: Resident Ensemble Players
Telephone: (302) 831-2204
Website »

More information

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Cost: $10 + FEES

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World Cafe Live Wilmington
500 N Market St
Wilmington, DE  19801
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Telephone: 215-222-1400
Contact Name: MP Intern
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