Saturday, December 16, 2006

Immigrants pledge allegiance

New citizens being sworn in include four who have served in Iraq. DP

By Yvonne Abraham, Globe Staff LOWELL -- Among the 934 immigrants who raised their right hands and promised to protect the United States against all enemies Monday stood four men for whom that pledge may have seemed redundant.

Ariel Montas, born in the Dominican Republic, spent a year defending the United States in Iraq.

Rayon Everett, born in Jamaica and dressed in desert fatigues, expects to be deployed there in July.

Jose Rodrigues, born in Angola, and Jean Bernard, born in Haiti, each did two tours in Iraq.

"I joined up because it’s my way to give back," said Montas, 25, who was a National Guardsman for seven years. "My parents, my whole family, came here in the hopes of a better life, and we found it."

Immigrants from 83 countries surrounded the four men, all of them packed into the Lowell Memorial to take their oath of allegiance to the United States. Some wore jeans and hoodies, others shiny dresses and hats. As Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf of the US District Court named each of the countries represented, immigrants from those nations stood.

Soon all 934 were standing. When Wolf declared them American citizens, they cheered and shook a sea of little American flags.

Bilingual toys taking off

These toys are teaching children another language. DP

BY KEIKO MORRIS, Newsday Staff Writer Ian Hede, at 20 months, plays in two languages.

Sometimes he and his mother, Marcela Hede, solve a simple puzzle of shapes - the words for those shapes written in English and Spanish for his mother to read aloud. And sometimes, he finds his amusement in his LeapFrog letter reader, which, with the simple push of a letter, offers Ian the sound of the letter in Spanish and a catchy little tune.

"We made the decision as a couple to raise him bilingual because we thought it would be a great asset," said Marcela Hede, 36, an East Northport resident who is originally from Colombia. Her husband, Neil Hede, is American. "We have this mentality that we are citizens of the world," she said. "We like the fact that we can communicate in different languages and with different people and meet people of different cultures."

As it turns out, the Hedes are not the only ones looking for toys that will help develop dual language skills. Industry experts say that the demand for such playthings has been growing in the past five years and toy companies, in an attempt to cater to a lucrative market, have boosted the number of such toys. Toys "R" Us identified bilingual toys as the second of its top five hottest toy trends for this holiday season.
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Taking a step toward understanding

First responders in Rochester are learning other languages, at least the most important phrases, to help their immigrant residents. 57 languages are spoken in their schools. DP

By David Peterson and Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune staff writers Matthew Mueller, a Rochester fire captain, volunteered to learn a language other than Spanish, but the city contracted with a company that wasn't fully geared to teach Arabic, and it doesn't offer Somali.

So Mueller, like other firefighters and police officers, wound up with Spanish -- even though school data suggest three-quarters of Rochester's immigrant population speak other languages.

That combination of goodwill and difficult fits and starts is typical of the adjustments that smaller cities across the Midwest are having to make with a tide of immigrants flooding into the nation's heartland, according to two new national studies.

A report by the Century Foundation examined Midwestern states such as Minnesota and Iowa under the label of "immigration's new frontiers."
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Monday, December 11, 2006

First-generation immigrants bypass city for suburbs

An interesting change has happened lately, immigrants are moving directly to the suburbs and not first into cities. They are looking for good schools and jobs. DP

By Michael Hill, ASSOCIATED PRESS GLENVILLE, N.Y. Thiyagarajan Subramanian came to the United States and ended up in a contemporary colonial with a two-car garage. He skipped the sort of city living linked to immigration for more than a century.

Mr. Subramanian is typical of many immigrants across the country. They are more likely to bypass the cozy cocoon of urban enclaves to settle amid the plush lawns and strip malls of suburbia. Demographers tracking immigration trends say it's a signpost in a country simultaneously more diverse and more suburban.

It's happening coast to coast: from Iranians spread through California's sprawling Orange County to Virginia, where Koreans are settled among the pricey suburbs of Fairfax County. The trend is especially pronounced among Indians, a group thick with first-generation professionals such as Mr. Subramanian, 43, an information technology consultant who moved his family from India in 1995.

"I think they're the first ethnic group that the majority of whom have gone directly to the suburbs instead of following the traditional pattern of settling in the city and moving to the suburbs," said Kenneth Johnson, a demographer and professor of sociology at Loyola University in Chicago.
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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bridging language gap

This class is teaching Mandarin to residents. Many Chinese immigrants are living in this area and this helps everyone communicate. DP

Free Chinese lessons offered in Flushing

BY RACHEL SCHEIER, DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER New Chinese immigrants to the city have long struggled to master the language of their new home. Now some of their English-speaking neighbors are trying to return the gesture.

Thanks to popular demand, free classes in Mandarin are being offered weekly at the community center in the Bland Houses projects in downtown Flushing, the center of the city's largest Chinatown.

Donald Henton, 73, a retired MTA bus driver and longtime resident of the Bland Houses, said he broached the idea to Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing) one night at a local political fund-raiser.

"We were at this meeting, and everyone was speaking Chinese," said Henton, who is on the advisory board for the Bland Houses Community Center.

"So I said, 'Why don't you get a class together so non-Asians can learn the language?'"

Liu approached Man-Li Kuo, a former Flushing resident who has been teaching Chinese language classes in her spare time for nearly 30 years.

Kuo volunteered to teach the classes, which will be held Wednesday evenings from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for 10 weeks, though Liu added that if interest is high, he will look into extending the classes. They are open to the entire community.

"Language is something to be embraced. It should not be a barrier to anyone," said Liu.
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Jefferson students all get Spanish – and a global view

These kids are learning languages and will be citizens of the world, able to converse in at least two languages. DP

By Sherry Saavedra, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER CARLSBAD – Five-year-old Ian Hackett has learned an unexpected lesson in kindergarten: Learning more Spanish translates into more friends.

At Jefferson Elementary, about two-thirds of the students are Latino, and nearly half are Spanish speakers struggling to master the English language.

Ian, who is Caucasian, transferred to Jefferson in the fall when the school became an International Baccalaureate magnet program offering students a global perspective.

The Spanish lessons are part of the program, and every student in school receives them starting in kindergarten. Ian tries out his newfound language skills on the playground and outside of school.

“When he sees his Spanish-speaking friends off campus, and I hear him address them, he uses a good accent – good rolling r's,” said Joanne Hackett, his mother.

The magnet program was designed to draw students from crowded campuses to Jefferson, where enrollment had plummeted from 850 students in 2000 to 500 last year. Enrollment would have shrunk to 450 this year, but the magnet attracted 100 new students. Half are kindergarteners.
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Escondido students tell stories of family and traditions

These kids are writing a bilingual book telling about their families and their traditions. A terrific to get the parents involved in the schools, too. DP

By PAUL EAKINS - Staff Writer Farr Avenue Elementary School students have been learning about their family and traditions, and now they want to teach the community.

As part of a schoolwide assignment called the Family Oral Stories Project, students in several third- through fifth-grade classes interviewed their parents about a family tradition, then wrote an essay and made a poster about the tradition. The project is designed to involve parents in their children's education, to make children's education meaningful to their lives, and to reach out to the rest of Escondido in the process, said Candy Harrison, one of the teachers involved.

"Families are very key in kids' education," Harrison said Tuesday. "And this is a way that families, even though they don't speak English well, can contribute to their kids' education."

The students' projects will be shown at Farr Avenue Elementary, located at 933 Farr Ave. in central Escondido, from 6 to 8:30 tonight. Many students will dress in their traditional cultural clothing, and the school's Ballet Folklorico group will perform. The event is free event open to the public,
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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Capitalism thrives with immigration

By Al Lewis, Denver Post Staff Columnist Immigrants don't just take jobs. They create them.

Of U.S. publicly traded companies that got their start with venture capital financing over the past 15 years, one out of every four boasted an immigrant founder, according to a recent study by the National Venture Capital Association, based in Arlington, Va.

Today, these companies are valued at more than $500 billion. Many are among the world's most technologically sophisticated, and some are household names.

Imagine life without Intel, founded by Hungarian Andy Grove; or Google, founded by Russian Sergey Brin; or Yahoo, founded by Jerry Yang of Taiwan; or eBay, founded by Pierre Omidyar of France; or Sun Microsystems, founded by Andreas Bechtolsheim of Germany and Vinod Khosla of India.

"The United States has harnessed the intellectual power of the best and brightest minds from abroad for 300 years," said Mark Heesen, NVCA president.

Heesen's group also surveyed 340 privately held, venture-backed companies and found 47 percent had at least one immigrant founder. Immigration itself, he says, is an entrepreneurial undertaking.

"People who immigrate, by their very nature, are risk takers," he said. "They've given up what they've known to go somewhere totally unknown. It's not a big leap for them to put it all on the line and say, 'I'm going to create a company on my own and this is how I'm going to do it."'
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The Economic Benefit of High-Skill Immigrants

A very sensible commentary about the high skill foreign students studying here who are not allowed to stay and work. DP

By Ross Kaminsky As I've argued in these pages, it is a disaster for the United States that we have so few H-1B visas available for high-skill foreign workers who want to become part of the American economy. We spend years educating foreigners, especially in technical fields, and then refuse their requests to work here. Instead we say "No, go back to Bangalore or Taipei and compete against us with what you've learned here."

It is truly insane from an economic point of view. America was made great by immigrants. The current nativist trends within both political parties, but especially the GOP, represents the worst of American narrow-mindedness and a complete lack of an understanding of history.

Most Americans understand the benefits of immigration as common sense and part of the American dream. Still, it is good to see some actual data on the economic benefit to our country of immigrants, in particular immigrant entrepreneurs.

Though I'm no fan of President Bush in the area of immigration I believe he has been closer to the right answer than any other politician whose position I have heard. Yes, we need to enforce our borders and clamp down on illegal immigration, but it must be simultaneous with massively increasing the quantity of work visas available (at all skill levels) as well as reducing the time it takes to get these visas...especially for high-skill workers whom we would rather see working for the benefit of our nation than competing against us.

These immigrants love the United States. In the full study, the NVCA notes that "Immigrant-founded venture-backed public companies today employ an estimated 220,000 people in the United States" and that "Nearly all the immigrant founders in private companies (95 percent) would still start their companies in the United States if given the choice today."
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Cristo in the Heartland

Across the nation, Latino pastors like Orel Garcia are leading immigrant ministries in the most unlikely places.
By Libby Page Gladys Garcia stands quietly before a room of 50 Latinos. She places a transparency on a projector with the lyrics to the hymn "Vivo por Cristo" ("I live for Christ"). The light shines the words on the wall, and the congregation, most of them from Oaxaca, Mexico, joins her in the worship song. This service, which is conducted entirely in Spanish, wouldn't be out of place in Mexico, California, or Texas. But this service is happening in Osage Beach, a town of 4,000 in the heart of rural Missouri.

The Hispanic ministry at Osage Hills Baptist Church is the work of Gladys and her husband, Pastor Orel Garcia. Orel started the ministry in September 2001 as a Bible study in the church basement. But as the Hispanic population grew, so did the meetings, until they became full-fledged church services.

This is only one of many signs of the largest demographic shift in recent history taking place before our eyes. Store signs, product packaging, television, and radio are all turning up in Spanish, so bilingual and Spanish-only church services seem a natural progression. However, the changes are not without controversy. On Dec. 16, 2005, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill—HR 4437—that would have ushered in a more aggressive policy on illegal immigration. If the bill were passed in the Senate, social-service organizations—and even churches—helping undocumented immigrants would have been considered in violation of the law. The bill did not pass in the Senate, but it demonstrates the dilemma churches face. As demonstrators and protesters hit the streets in our nation's cities to ask for immigration reform, Orel and Gladys felt the pressure rising.
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Asian immigrants preserve culture while adapting to western ways

By RAMESH SANTANAM, Associated Press PITTSBURGH - Archana Patel celebrates Hindu religious festivals, cooks Indian vegetarian food, watches Bollywood movies with friends and knows her marriage will be arranged.

Chandrasiri Jayakody and Ananda Gunawardena join fellow Sri Lankans at monthly alms-giving ceremonies at a new Buddhist temple and cultural center just outside of Pittsburgh.

And architect Mimi Jong, who plays an ancient Chinese musical instrument known as the erhu, founded a musical group to nurture crosscultural understanding through art.

She and the others are all American citizens and part of a growing number of Asians who have settled in western Pennsylvania. And while they've adapted to living in America, many still find ways to maintain and promote their cultural heritage.

"I am very adamant about my Indian identity. It's a big part of me and it stays with me all the time," said Patel, 25, a University of Pittsburgh law student who has lived in the U.S. for 18 years.

Patel has sought out Indian friends at Pitt and believes it's important for her to do so.

"We are a lost generation of Indian-Americans. We are Indian and American and we fit into neither completely," Patel said. "We try to figure out which culture to fit into our lifestyles and identity."

In the past two decades, Asians have made up half of the immigrants coming to western Pennsylvania. Lured here by the region's growing high-tech and medical industries or to be educated at one of the universities, many make sure they pass their cultural traditions on to their children.
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Key to U.S. industry? Immigrants

By Michael Kanellos The U.S. tech industry is dependent on people from foreign lands, according to a study from the National Venture Capital Foundation.

Over the past 15 years, immigrants have founded 25 percent of all publicly-traded companies that had venture backing, from tech companies to consumer ones. Most of the companies these immigrants start, moreover, are based around technology. And 40 percent of all publicly traded companies with venture backing in technology manufacturing were founded by immigrants.

Legal immigrants only constitute a small fraction of the population: approximately 6.7 percent of the population in 1990 and 8.7 percent today.

These businesses founded by immigrants employ 400,000 people, the study found.

Unfortunately, the number of foreigners enrolling in science and engineering graduate programs in the U.S. have been declining since 2002.

"While the debate in Congress has focused on illegal immigration, American companies have identified significant problems with our current system for admitting skilled foreign born professionals on temporary visas and green cards," the report stated.

Legal immigrants to U.S. face green card logjam

By Tim Gaynor, Reuters PHOENIX (Reuters) - Following all the rules, Indian national Sanjay Mehta came to the United States on a temporary work visa in 1997, hoping to build a glittering career in the fast-moving information technology sector.

But nine years later his application for a green card remains snarled up in a bureaucratic logjam, and he looks with frustration at the strides made by illegal immigrants who he says simply jumped the fence from Mexico.

"Washington has taken notice of them ... But what about the plight of legal immigrants to this country? We seem to have been forgotten," said Mehta, who settled in Arizona with his wife and raised two children.

Many of the estimated 10 million to 12 million illegal immigrants in the United States are hopeful of gains from a new Democrat-led Congress next year, after massive street protests in U.S. cities pushed their cause to the top of the political agenda earlier in the year.

But more than a million legal immigrants like Mehta from as far afield as Europe, India and China complain that their lives have been placed on hold as they battle red tape to become permanent residents in the United States.
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Millions of U.S. households "linguistically isolated"

By Suzannah Gonzales, Eunice Moscoso, AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF Spanish tops the list of languages other than English spoken in the Austin area, followed by Asian languages like Vietnamese and Korean. But Urdu also can be heard in Austin, along with Dutch in Round Rock and Russian in Hays County.

It's a language smorgasbord prevalent throughout the state and the country.

About 6 million Texans older than age 5 spoke a language other than English in 2000, and of those, about 2.7 million spoke English less than "very well," the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

In 14 million U.S. households, people speak a language other than English. Of those households, 3 million are "linguistically isolated," where all members 14 years and older have at least some difficulty with English, the report found.

The Census Bureau's national data, which were based on information from the 2000 census, also showed that about one in five people over the age of 5 spoke a language other than English that year and that about one in eight spoke English less than "very well."

The data included new details about foreign language speakers in each state, including income and education levels that show the difficulty non-English speakers may face in finding good paying jobs.

"I definitely feel that bilingual education is important," said Cook Elementary School teacher Brooke Holland, who speaks both English and Spanish in the classroom. "As a fifth-grade teacher, it's important for (students) to gain the skills in English to be successful in middle school."
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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Despite challenges, teachers and students forge ahead

A school that is using English immersion to quickly teach immigrant children, instead of bilingual, which takes a long time. DP

By Deborah Turner, The Dallas Morning News CACTUS, Texas - "Torns?" asks one student.

"No, `T-H-orns,'" responds another.

"Que? Que dijiste? (What? What did you say?)"

Peals of laughter blend with conversations in Spanish as students in Stacy Murphy's class quiz one another for their impending English vocabulary test.

On the other side of the room, Anna Vazquez, a bilingual transition assistant, works with third- through sixth-grade students who are learning the language.

These are the children of immigrants who call Cactus home - their parents drawn to the Swift & Co. meatpacking plant by the prospect of a steady wage and a chance to provide their children with a decent education.

At Cactus Elementary, 99.3 percent of students are Hispanic, and 77 percent are classified as limited English proficient, the highest rate in the state.

In sharp contrast, the teaching staff is 95.1 percent white and mostly non-Spanish-speaking, including Murphy.

So educators have turned to total English immersion - bypassing the state-mandated bilingual education - to teach the children. That's partly out of necessity, said Cactus Elementary principal Carla Tafoya, because the state does not have enough qualified bilingual educators to go around.

But also because Tafoya believes that total immersion works.
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Beach school stresses Vietnamese heritage, values

These people understand how important it is to retain their heritage, but still become Americans. It is possible to do both. DP

By GILLIAN GAYNAIR, The Virginian-Pilot VIRGINIA BEACH - On a dry erase board, Quynh-Uyen Nguyen drew a series of straight and squiggly lines and a dot.

She pointed to the figures and, in Vietnamese, asked a group of 5- to 7-year-olds to repeat after her as she identified them: "Dau sac! Dau huyen! Dau hoi! Dau nga! Dau nang!" Each of the five accent marks alters how words are pronounced and what they mean.

Across the hall, older students read and translated sentences out loud. Around the corner, others practiced vocabulary.

It was a typical Sunday afternoon for nearly 50 children who are learning - reluctantly, at first - their parents' native language and traditions. The two-hour classes take place in rented rooms at Kings Grant Elementary School and are one of the main endeavors of the newly formed Vietnamese Youth of Hampton Roads organization.

The language school, called Lac-Viet, was launched in September out of parents' concern that their children had little knowledge of their roots and couldn't communicate with their grandparents.

Among the estimated 47,800 Asians in Hampton Roads, about 3,600 are Vietnamese. While Lac-Viet is the only one of its kind here, other language schools in the area include those that focus on Greek and Chinese.

"We are the bridge" to help them understand their heritage, said Tri Barsell, a parent and the school's principal. Parents also hope that through the classes, children will gain an appreciation for certain Vietnamese values the adults grew up with, in addition to the American values they've adopted.
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Immigrants Voice Their Stories

More stories showing the hard time immigrants have when they first come here, yet they are all thankful and feel it was worth while. DP

By Angela Pang Culture shock is what a 25-year-old Talat Hasan faced when she emigrated from India to the United States in 1977.

"When our waitress brought out a plate of food, I thought it was enough for the four of us to share," recalls Hasan. "I was horrified to discover that the plate was for one person!"

Hasan is just one of eight Bay Area residents who will be sharing their personal immigration experiences in an original 30-minute documentary premiering on KQED Jan. 24. The film, Immigrant Voices – American Stories, is part of KQED’s Immigration in Focus, a yearlong collection of thought-provoking programs, special reports and events about the complex issues surrounding immigration.

Vince Gutierrez received his green card in May 2004, and is waiting for his wife and young son in the Philippines to join him. Current immigration laws prohibit his family from coming to the U.S. for at least five years.

"I sometimes feel like giving up and just returning to the Philippines to be with my wife and son," said Guiterrez, who has only seen his newborn son twice in the last year. "But when he comes here, he’ll have good opportunities."

Guiterrez has been receiving emotional support from, an organization that is lobbying Congress to reinstitute the V-visa, which would allow spouses and children to be reunited with green card holders more quickly.

For Jade Wu, who emigrated from China in 1999, living in the U.S. without being able to speak English has been hard. She spent four months in Ohio with her husband before deciding to move to San Francisco.
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A passion to teach

Fifth in a seven-part series of stories exploring how Mainers are helping neighbors in need.


PressHerald/ Give her some violet or gold fabric, a sewing machine and a well-lit space, and Adele Ngoy can make a beautiful dress for you.

But she would rather have you pull up a chair alongside hers, so she can explain how certain colors work together, show you the precision of the stitching.

She would rather give you something that will last.

"My passion is to teach people, so women can do sewing and alterations in their homes," said Ngoy, who fled civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo and arrived in Portland in 2000. "I know I have a lot in me. I want to share that."
Ngoy, 41, is known as a local expert on African clothing.

More than that, she is earning a reputation as a helper in the city's growing immigrant community. Ngoy first volunteered to teach sewing three years ago, and she has made the annual classes a mission of empowerment, designed to provide skills and confidence to refugee women.

Some of her students are mothers who want to make clothes for their families. Some work as laborers full time, and want to find better jobs. All struggle to make ends meet in their new city.

"Some of them have never gone to school," Ngoy said. "Sewing is not easy, but they enjoy it. It's a better job than carrying heavy boxes."

You don't have to look far to see Ngoy's impact. Some of the colorful garments worn here by the women of Somalia, Rwanda, Sudan and other African nations were stitched by Ngoy. Many others were crafted by women who have gone through her free class at the Parkside Neighborhood Center.
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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Speaker hails the contributions made by immigrants

This speaker encouraged immigrants who are working at low level jobs and showed them how important they are to keep this country running. We do need them. DP

Policy expert notes they fill need for workers in low-level jobs during forum at Holy Rosary School, South Beach

By LARISSA RANDALL, ADVANCE STAFF WRITER Immigrants are taking American jobs!" That's the claim you often hear people make. Tamar Jacoby is trying to change their minds.

Ms. Jacoby, a leading national expert on immigration policy and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, was the featured speaker at yesterday's forum on immigration reform, held at Holy Rosary School, South Beach. It was co-sponsored by the Staten Island Immigrants Council and other groups.

Ms. Jacoby focused on the contributions immigrants make to our country, especially working at jobs that more educated Americans don't want to do.

To the Island immigrants, mostly Hispanic, who were among the majority of her audience of 50 people, Ms. Jacoby said reassuringly, "You're right that you're doing work that needs to be done, and you should keep doing it."

She pointed out that in 1960, half of all American men dropped out of high school to work at unskilled jobs. Today, less than 10 percent do so, but the need for these jobs has not disappeared. Immigrants have filled these positions that Americans no longer wish to take.
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Feds Redesign Citizenship Exam

This might be a better test for new citizens. It will be a good start to civic participation. DP

By MELISSA TRUJILLO In an effort to make the citizenship exam more meaningful, the federal government said Monday it will test an exam that relies less on trivia - such as asking the name of the president's house - and more on applicants' grasp of American democracy.

The new exam will be given to volunteers beginning this winter in Albany, N.Y.; Boston; Charleston, S.C.; Denver; El Paso, Texas; Kansas City, Mo.; Miami; San Antonio; Tucson, Ariz.; and Yakima, Wash.

The current test is heavy on historical facts, and includes questions about the colors of the U.S. flag and the name of the form used to apply for citizenship. The new exam will ask about the Bill of Rights and the meaning of democracy.

"The idea is not to toss up roadblocks, it's to make sure people who apply for citizenship and want to become citizens understand and adhere to the values we have as a society, the values that are part of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights," said Shawn Saucier, spokesman for the Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The current exam doesn't guarantee knowledge of those values, Saucier said. A person may know which state was the 49th to be added to the union, for example, but not understand voting rights, he said.

The portion of the citizenship exam used to test basic English reading and writing skills also will be changed to include civic vocabulary words, Saucier said.
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Program two curriculums in one

By Jeffery Whitfield FOREST PARK - Nearly three months ago, Cy Dunson and her husband sparred over whether to enroll their daughter Loyalti in Georgia's first dual-language school, but their worries faded after they saw her grades - and Spanish-speaking skills - improve.

"If she hadn't done well, I would've taken her out," said Dunson, now co-president of the school's PTA.

Like many parents, Dunson enrolled her daughter in the Unidos Dual Language Charter School so the girl would learn another language.

While several states, including California and North Carolina, already have dual-language schools, the Unidos school in Forest Park is Georgia's first.

Proponents of schools where students learn reading, writing and arithmetic in a mix of English and Spanish say children can learn languages easier when they are younger - and still make better grades than they would in a single-language school.

The school has drawn the eye of Clarke County School District officials, who will visit Unidos on Monday as they consider whether they want to establish a similar type of program in Athens.
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Let naturalized Americans run for president

It might be time to revisit this debate. DP

Restricting the presidency to only those born in the United States is unfair and un-American.

Editorial ON TUESDAY, CITIZENS in an electoral-vote-rich state reelected a governor who had once seemed in danger of defeat. That sort of political resurrection ordinarily would be good for a mention or two in the endless speculation about 2008 presidential candidates. Unfortunately, this reelected governor can forget about aspiring to the highest office in the land.

Why? Because the governor, though eligible to administer a major state of the union, is barred from the White House by Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which says: "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President."

A reflection of the framers' worries about meddling in the new nation's affairs by European monarchies, this restriction makes no sense in the 21st century, when even opponents of legalizing undocumented aliens acknowledge that this is a nation of immigrants. It's insulting that a legal immigrant to the U.S. who has twice won election as governor cannot aspire to the presidency.

The Constitution shouldn't be amended lightly. But this is a matter of principle: a core principle about the equality of opportunity in our society to strive for the highest office. Congress and state legislatures should adopt a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that would put all citizens 35 and older on equal footing when it comes to the highest office in the land. Americans should be free to decide whether they want to be led by President Jennifer Granholm.

Gotcha! Who'd you think we were talking about? Jennifer Granholm, a naturalized American who was born in Canada, was reelected governor of Michigan on Tuesday. Were you perhaps thinking of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger?
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Immigration likely to put bipartisan pledges to test

Let's hope immigration reform can begin now. DP

By John Simerman, CONTRA COSTA TIMES Last week's shift to a Democratic majority in Congress gave new life to the prospect of an overhaul in the nation's immigration laws to include a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, say advocates on both sides of the debate.

But though many Democrats seem to find common ground with President Bush, the road remains strewn with many of the same political mines that halted passage of a reform bill earlier this year.

Supporters were guardedly upbeat, citing a cooler post-election-year climate. If reform happens, it would likely come next year, before the presidential election season reaches full throttle.

"Yes, there's a lot of optimism," said Jerry Okendo, a Republican who heads the local chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. "And I hope the Democrats do not forget the Latinos who registered to vote and got out to vote this election."

Immigration reform was not among the handful of less-volatile proposals that presumed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, laid out as the Democratic majority's early agenda.

But she raised it with Bush at their meeting Thursday, said Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider, who declined to offer specifics on their talk.

Crider called Bush's position "quite close" to the so-called "Kennedy-McCain" Senate proposal for new security measures, a guest-worker program and a road to legal status for an illegal immigrant population pegged at 10 million to 12 million.
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Sunday, November 19, 2006

US to unveil new citizenship test

Some groups are wary of this new proposal, but it might be more of a true test than the previous ones. DP

By Ben Arnoldy | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor BOSTON – To gain American citizenship, immigrants must be able to answer such questions as: What was the 49th state added to our Union? What color are the stars on our flag? And who wrote the Star Spangled Banner?

Sound trivial? The US government thinks so, and plans to roll out a new pilot test this winter.

It will continue to be an oral test, conducted in English, and will have 10 questions. Six correct answers will earn a passing grade. But the content, which is tightly under wraps, is expected to shun simple historical facts about America that can be recounted in a few words for more explanation about the principles of American democracy, such as freedom.

The changes raise the bar - critics say too high - for immigrants to show not only that they care enough to study for a test, but also that they understand and share American values. Behind the shift is rising anxiety among Americans about high levels of immigration and European troubles with large, unassimilated communities, say observers.

"Whenever there is a large number of immigrants, people talk about having an assimilation policy," says John Fonte, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a think tank in Washington. "We've always had an Americanization policy of some type [but] we haven't so much in the last 20, 30 years.... I'd see this as continuing that tradition, which Europe did not do."
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Contractors tackle language barrier

By Blake Farmer, News Correspondent The number of working Latinos fatally injured on the job has climbed to its highest point since comprehensive record keeping began in 1992, according to the U.S. Labor Department. And knocking down the language barrier could turn the trend.

The danger has been chalked up to the sheer numbers of immigrants who are in dangerous lines of work such as construction, but also to the communication barriers between Spanish-speaking workers and English-speaking supervisors. Last year, 917 Latinos died nationally, up slightly from 902 in 2004.

Foreign-born Latinos are the most at risk. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 625 of the 917 Latino workers who died on the job in 2005 were born outside the U.S.

Oscar Lainez, who moved from El Salvador to Nashville 10 years ago for a construction job with the Nashville-based Rogers Group Inc., said that communication with his supervisor can still be confusing.

“I get nervous sometimes,” Lainez said. “It’s normal I guess.”

To minimize the chance of further injury and death, Rogers Group in September started teaching English. Lainez and eight other road workers have been attending a two-hour English class each Wednesday afternoon. Rogers Group hired Thuy Nguyen, an instructor with the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute, to come out to a job-site on Briley Parkway where she goes through a specially designed curriculum with the men, who receive their hourly wage for taking the class.
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Immigrants celebrate diversity

Another piece of proof that immigrants want to learn English and understand how important it is. DP

By GREG SMITH, Norwich Bulletin NORWICH -- In 1996, the Norwich Adult Education English language program was "one class, one room and one teacher," according to regional director Mary C. Berry.

"It's grown exponentially," Berry said, gazing across the sea of diverse faces seated in the cafeteria Tuesday at the former Buckingham School in Norwich.

Hundreds of students, from the English for Speakers of Other Languages and High School Credit Diploma programs, attended a mid-morning cultural celebration, complete with a variety of international dishes.

"If people are saying foreign people don't want to learn English, they should come here in the mornings," said ESOL regional coordinator Cheryl Egan.

More than 225 people are enrolled in morning language classes alone, along with another 100 at night. Classes, offered in 14 towns, are specially designed to suit a student's level. Last year, 602 students enrolled in the ESOL program and 298 in the high school diploma program, Berry said.
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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The other immigrants

Even though most people only think of Mexicans when they think of immigrants, they rank sixth in Philadelphia and the nearby communities. DP

By: KEITH PHUCAS, Times Herald Staff NORRISTOWN - Over the past decade, when the subject of illegal immigration is raised, Mexicans came to mind for many people.

Though the Mexican population living in the Delaware Valley has increased since 2000, immigrants from Asian countries make up the largest group of foreign-born residents living in the Philadelphia region, according to U.S. Census data.

Until recently, the top five foreign-born residents living in Montgomery County were natives of Korea, India, China, Italy and the United Kingdom, according to 2000 U.S. Census figures. At the time of that last census, Mexicans ranked seventh as foreign-born county residents.

In the city of Philadelphia, the top-ranked foreign-born people living there were from China, India, Jamaica, Ukraine and Vietnam.
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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Schools aim to break language barrier

This education director understands how hard it is for immigrants to become proficient in English and how important it is. DP

By Nicole Geary, Lansing State Journal Sergio Keck came to the United States from Argentina when he was 14.

He didn't want to leave his friends, to learn another language, to start fresh.

More than 20 years later, he's using that understanding to build new programs and awareness as the Lansing School District's bilingual education director.

He was a teacher and principal before taking the job just last school year.

"Research says they can learn English in two years," Keck said of young immigrants. "But to express themselves in academic English, it takes about seven years. We need to make sure they can read and especially write at a proficient level."

Serving Spanish-speaking students is important not only for their success, but for the district's.
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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Increasingly, libraries are the place to learn English

Libraries all across the country are holding ESL classes. DP

By Will Kilburn, Globe Correspondent The 8 p.m. intermediate English as a Second Language class at Milford Town Library is often about subtleties. When it comes to keys, are they at your pocket or in your pocket? Do you taxi at the airport, from the airport, or to the airport?

Instructor Vijay Magpal quizzes the students, gesturing at a whiteboard set up at the open end of a horseshoe of desks.

The 15 students, who range in age from young adult to retired and are from Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Peru, Russia, and Venezuela, answer sometimes in unison, and other times only after being called on by the smiling Magpal.

After one student stumbles, she tells him, ``You'll get used to it, don't worry."

The class is one of four per week (two for beginners and two for intermediates) offered by the library, which also matches students with tutors for one-to-one instruction and provides learning materials and meeting space for both classes and tutoring sessions.

The Milford library is one of many libraries around Boston's western suburbs and the country that have taken on a new mission -- teaching immigrants English.
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Finding a new voice

This story illustrates how immigrants want to learn English, but often aren't able to and are afraid to try the little they do know for fear of being wrong. DP

By Jennifer Clampet, The Times The feeling of being watched in public keeps Dina Martinez, of Tualatin, and Edith Sanchez, of Tigard, quiet most of the time.

They’re afraid of making a mistake. They’re afraid of the arched eyebrows or the grumbles that follow when they begin to speak and their Spanish accents are exposed.

“When I talk, I’m never sure whether I’m saying the correct sentence – always not sure,” Martinez said.

Martinez seldom leaves her apartment. The stay-at-home mother of two doesn’t like to venture out into the world. She waits for her husband to come home from work, and they go grocery shopping together.

A call from a stranger at Sanchez’s house is answered by her daughter. Yes, her mother is home, the pre-teen says, but no she can’t come to the phone. Her mother doesn’t speak English.
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Translator teaches students tolerance

This translator understands how hard it is to learn English and helps patients in hospitals communicate with doctors and nurses. DP

By BRENDAN deROODE WEST, Evening Sun Reporter To Francy Zepeda, different cultures are the lifeblood of the United States.

To ask people to forget their cultures and blend in would be like asking them to give up their souls, she said.

Zepeda, a translator at Gettysburg Hospital, spoke to seventh- and eighth-grade students at Emory H. Markle Intermediate School last week about communication.

Born in Puerto Rico, Zepeda moved to the mainland when she was 10. And when she was 16. And then again when she was 23.

"That time, I stayed," she told the class.

She went back to Puerto Rico the first two times because she couldn't communicate with anyone in the United States, she said.

Communication is her passion, and eventually led her to teach herself English over five years.

"I didn't have anyone to tell me what my teacher wanted me to do," she said of going to school the first time. "I didn't have anyone to talk to."

The second time, she worked with her brother picking oranges in Florida, something she calls "one of the worst jobs to have."

When she came back again, it was with her first husband. The two eventually settled in Biglerville, where her husband found work. But that left Zepeda with no one to talk to during the day.

"I was trapped," she said. "When you want to learn so badly, you put more attention into it."

She turned that attention toward teaching herself through daytime TV – specifically Oprah.
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Chinese families flock to Montville, CT

Many people think all our immigrants are Latino, this town has many Chinese immigrants. DP

By DANIEL AXELROD , Norwich Bulletin Montville High School senior Cheng Fan said his father enjoys working as a cook at Mohegan Sun.

But Fan's mother regrets immigrating to the United States because she went from teaching middle school in China to working in a Chinese restaurant.

"If I go to Cornell University for college, that regret may disappear," said Fan, 17, of Montville, who wants to study transportation engineering at the Ivy League school.

Driven by a wave of Chinese immigrant parents moving to Montville to create more opportunities for their children, the number of Chinese students learning English in the school district has soared during the last six years.

Montville school administrators said state officials soon will designate the high school a Chinese bilingual school, formally mandating the school's existing bilingual educational services for its 35 Chinese English Language Learners.

District-wide, just four Chinese ELL students attended Montville schools during 2000, compared to 108 today.
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Sunday, October 15, 2006

English will always be the language of the U.S.

by Donna Poisl

Our citizens who think English will disappear in our own country are worrying over nothing. People who want to pass laws making it our "official language" are wasting time and effort. I read recently that someone called the United States a "language graveyard". People from all countries with more than 300 languages come here and in a couple generations have lost all languages except English.

English will always be the main language in this country, regardless of how many people complain about having to choose English or Spanish on the telephone or how many signs they see in Spanish or other languages. The most common argument to this statement is that there are so many Latinos here now who don’t speak English that they will simply outnumber English speakers and English will be lost. This may make sense to these worriers, but there is no study that backs it up. Latinos are losing their language at exactly the same pace as all immigrants before them lost theirs.

All studies prove that by the second generation, immigrants are fluent in English while using their native language at home. By the third generation, they have almost all lost their native language and only speak English. This means that grandchildren usually are not able to have a conversation with their grandparents.

This is what has always happened in this country. Germans, Polish, Italians, Asians - all did the same thing. The first generation struggled and learned a little bit of English, their children spoke both languages and their grandchildren spoke only English.

Of the more than 300 languages spoken in this country, English is the language that unites us. It is the language needed to get ahead. It is the language needed to get a good education, to get a good job, to live up to our full potential. Many of these 300 languages will be extinct in 100 years, English won't be.

About 15 years ago, I was sitting in a hotel restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan, eating breakfast. There were three businessmen sitting at the next table going over a contract to purchase and ship greenhouse cactus plants. One man was German, one was Taiwanese and the other was Italian. They were using English as their common language.

None of them spoke English very well and all had heavy accents. They were having a very hard time understanding each other through these individual accents. I could understand all of them quite well. I offered to help them, but they politely refused my help.

English is used all over the world, often, as with these men, as the only common language. School children everywhere learn English. They may not be fluent in it, but they are familiar with it and can function in it if necessary.

The reason there are language choices on telephone messages and signs in Spanish at banks and offices is because businesses have decided to serve these immigrants in their own language. It helps their business serve a group of people with enormous purchasing power. It is simply a business decision.

In some ways it is doing Latino immigrants a disservice, because it makes it almost unnecessary for them to learn English. They can get by in most situations in Spanish. But they will not be able to help their children get a good education, they won't be able to get better jobs, they will have great difficulty if they ever have an emergency and need medical or police assistance. They will always be held back by the language barrier.

Instead of complaining about people not learning English fast enough, I think my fellow citizens should try to help immigrants learn English. Instead of being upset that they are taking longer in line at the store, we can offer to help them understand the question or make change. In the lunch room at work, we can trade words and phrases in our language with coworkers in their language and we will all learn. Some people seem to think that in order to teach, we have to be trained teachers, but we can teach and learn every day.

Most ESL classes in the country have long waiting lists of people wanting to learn English. Many times the classes are at inconvenient times or places for the students. Many immigrants work two jobs and long hours and are unable to attend classes. They will appreciate and benefit from any help we can give them individually.

It is incredibly hard to learn a new language as an adult. Adult brains are not as pliable and willing to think in another language as the brains of children are. It takes slow, patient repeating of words and constant practice. It requires a lot of nerve to take a chance, speak up and possibly be wrong, misunderstood or ridiculed. It requires a partner to practice with who doesn’t laugh at mistakes.

English has never been seriously threatened as the dominant language of the United States, the languages that immigrants bring with them to the U.S. are endangered. It is not necessary to try to make English the official language. It won't make any difference.

Heritage language schools help bind the families of immigrants

These kids go to weekend school to learn their grandparents' languages. Some even go to Chinese school on Sat. and Japanese on Sun. English has taken over and they have to be taught the other languages in special classes. Parents are studying too, since they have lost the language of their parents. DP

By EVELYN SHIH, STAFF WRITER "You all have a lot of work to do this year," Carol Young said to seventh- and eighth-graders sitting in a computer room at Hackensack Middle School. "You've only learned 800 characters so far, and until you learn 1,500 you are technically illiterate."

Seventeen pairs of eyes widened.

"But Laoshi," protested one student, addressing her in Chinese. "What if we learn 1,501 characters and then forget two? Are we still illiterate?"

Young hesitated, but gave it to them straight. "Yes, that's what it means," she said firmly. "So can anybody tell me how many characters do you have to learn each day?"

Groans filled the room.

The Bergen Chinese School, which convenes for four hours every Sunday afternoon at the middle school, is a fixture in Bergen County's Taiwanese-American community, and instructors like Young have a vital mission: They must teach the second and third generations how to communicate with the first.
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Saturday, October 14, 2006

Illegal immigrants released from jail, due to lack of space

This proves what many say: we can't round up all the illegal immigrants, we aren't equipped to detain them. Even 12 was too many here. DP A dozen illegal immigrants busted on Interstate 95 in Florence County Thursday night have been released. That's because Charleston County jail officials say they had nowhere to put them.

Thursday night, deputies stopped a pick up truck where I-95 and I-20 connect in Florence County for a minor traffic violation. Inside, deputies say they arrested 13 illegal immigrants in that truck.

Police say the driver had cocaine and he's still in jail in Florence County. The 12 others were taken to the Charleston County jail by agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE. The Public Information Officer for the Charleston County Detention Center, Captain John Clark, said that they had no choice but to let the men go because they already had 115 other people to book and didn't have the time to adequately take care of the immigrants.

Clark says he does not know what happened to the illegal immigrants once they left his detention center. Officials with ICE would not comment because this is an on-going investigation. Wednesday night, Florence County deputies arrested nine illegal immigrants, so that's a total of 22 in just two days.

Immigrants' work risky

Another story about immigrants taking jobs most citizens won't take. DP

Homicide is main cause of on-the-job deaths for foreign-born staff

By Stephen Franklin and Darnell Little, Chicago Tribune CHICAGO - Blood seeped from his hands and face. His skin burned from the knife that slashed at him from the cab's backseat. He thought he was dying just like his friend whose throat was cut by a robber in his cab late one night.

Grabbing the long, serrated blade of the attacker's knife shredded his hand but saved his life.

"If I didn't hold the knife, I think he would have cut my throat,'' Mahmood Ishaque said as he recalls the attack that took place more than a year and half ago but seems as frighteningly fresh as yesterday to him.

The No. 1 cause of death on the job for foreign-born workers is homicide, and most victims are clerks at gasoline stations and food stores or cabdrivers like Mahmood Ishaque. They are immigrants doing dangerous work that others won't.

A Chicago Tribune analysis shows that in 2005, when foreign-born workers made up 15 percent of the nation's work force, 188 were murdered on the job; that's a third of the 564 workplace homicide victims, the highest ratio since the government began keeping track in 1992. Last year, U.S. grocery stores recorded 76 murders, more than any other industry, government figures show.

Much of this loss of life can be avoided with measures that are both well-known and not costly, experts say. But protecting cabdrivers and store clerks hasn't been as big a priority as saving lives on the factory floor, they add.
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Judge Upholds In-State Tuition For Illegal Immigrants SAN DIEGO -- A judge has upheld a state law allowing public colleges and universities to charge in-state fees to undocumented immigrants.

The law was challenged by a class action lawsuit filed last December on behalf of out-of-state students who claimed the tuition break discriminated against U.S. citizens.

Out-of-state students pay higher rates than California residents in the state's three-tiered higher education system -- the University of California, the California State University and California community colleges. In the past, immigrants who didn't have legal status as California residents faced out-of-state rates.

But a 2001 law allows nonresidents to pay in-state fees if they attended a California high school for at least three years and graduated from a California high school.

Immigrants who are in the state illegally who apply for the tuition break must certify they are in the process of getting documentation or will do so as soon as they are eligible.

Among other things, plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued the law violates federal immigration reform legislation passed in 1996.

But Superior Court Judge Thomas Warriner ruled last week there was no indication Congress intended the Immigration and Naturalization Act or any other federal statute cited by the plaintiffs to determine resident tuition rates at state universities and community colleges.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs said they will appeal the ruling.

Somali Stories

Somali refugees are rebuilding their lives in Buffalo. Four agencies are helping them get settled. DP

By Peter Koch Here in Buffalo, however, more than 1,000 Somali refugees are rebuilding their lives from the ashes of lifelong strife and civil war. Like many immigrants before them, they came here with nothing but their culture and customs, and a hope for a better life. But now, thanks to the help of resettlement agencies, local activists, their own community organizations and a collective mental toughness, their star is rising again here in the Queen City.

There are four resettlement agencies locally helping new refugees—like the Somalis—adjust to their new home in Buffalo: Catholic Charities, the International Institute, Jewish Family Services and Journey’s End. Together they make up the Western New York Refugee and Asylee Consortium (WNYRAC), and they resettle around 1,000 refugees a year in Buffalo. Though they are on the front lines of resettlement, they are usually the behind-the-scenes people, working, for the most part, out of the community eye. They pick up new refugees from the airport, provide them with housing, clothing, transportation, money for groceries, cultural orientation, transportation and language lessons. They help new refugees access health services, schools, daycare and social services, and help them find jobs. From the beginning, they place a constant, steady hand on the shoulder of each refugee.

“A mad frenzy of activity,” is what Pam Kefi, executive director of the International Institute, calls the beginning of the resettlement process. “Refugees aren’t coming here because they’ve been dying to come to America. Other immigrants will make plans and pave the way for themselves to come, because they know this is where they’d like to move. Or they come here because they have some tie to the community, like a job or family members. But refugees come under a great amount of duress, and it’s their only option.”
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Learning the language of the workplace

This is better than ESL or at least different. It teaches workers job specific English words, technical terms and occupational words not usually learned in an ESL class. DP

By H.J. Cummins, Star Tribune After nine years at Mackay Envelope Corp., Teng Yang still wasn't clear when he picked up a job ticket exactly which duties were his.

"Every word I didn't understand, I went and asked the supervisor," said Yang, a Hmong immigrant who left Laos 15 years ago.

That extra step was just the kind of thing to cause tension between machine operators, such as Yang, and the rest of the work crew, said Scott Mitchell, CEO at the Minneapolis-based envelope maker.

But Yang has been self-reliant since June, after finishing some "occupational English" courses arranged by Mackay.

Everything is better now, Yang and Mitchell agreed.

Job-specific English courses are spreading throughout Minnesota workplaces as the state's workforce becomes more diverse.

Employers know that misunderstandings, in the literal sense, cost them money. Immigrants and refugees know that poor English makes them hard to hire and even harder to promote. And there's nothing more motivating than the ability to make a living, instructors say.
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Green proposes tax credit for immigrants to learn English

An interesting proposal. DP MADISON, Wis. Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Green says immigrants who come to Wisconsin legally should be given help to make a smooth transition, while those here illegally should not get any benefits.

Green says if elected governor he would propose a 300-dollar tax credit to cover the costs of English classes and expenses occurred during the process an immigrant goes through to become a citizen.

There was no immediate cost estimate for the plan Green unveiled today in Milwaukee.

Green also reiterated his opposition to granting in-state tuition to illegal residents and support for requiring anyone applying for public assistance to show proof of citizenship.

Immigration has become more of an issue in the governor's race in the past week, with both Green and Governor Jim Doyle releasing television ads attacking the other on the topic.


This story tells about the Hispanic middle class. These immigrants are setting up organizations to help the low-wage immigrants here. DP

By Steve Jones, The Sun News Alex Russell didn't really know any Mexicans until a new job in South Carolina brought him into regular contact with immigrants.

"They are very noble people," Russell said.

Alex and Susana Russell are themselves Hispanic immigrants - natives of Argentina who lived in Venezuela for more than 20 years. They moved to the state five years ago.

They represent part of a growing Hispanic middle class in the United States, a segment of the population some say can help Americans understand and appreciate the wave of immigration that has captured the attention of lawmakers, the public and the media.

The Hispanic populations in the Carolinas are among the top four fastest growing in the country, according to research by the Pew Hispanic Center. The current debate over illegal immigration, how to stop it and what to do about those already in the country is driven by fear, said Maria DeGuzman, director of Latina/Latino Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill's College of Arts and Sciences. She believes the fear is unfounded.
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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Language shift seen in Latinos

Another personal story proving the studies that show English becomes the only language by the third generation in this country. DP

By GINA VERGEL, STAFF WRITER WOODBRIDGE — Fords Middle School pupil Cathy Ortiz is part Puerto Rican, but she said English is the dominant language spoken at her house.

"We really don't speak Spanish unless we're going to our abuela's house," said Ortiz, referring to her paternal grandmother, who came to the United States from Puerto Rico many years ago.

The Ortizes are a prime example of a trend that a new study says most second- and third-generation Latinos are falling into — one in which the use of Spanish is dying out.

A few generations after families move to the United States from Latin American countries, fluency in Spanish dies out and English becomes the dominant language, says the new study, which was published by sociology professors from New Jersey and California.

The study counters popular arguments that the size of Latino immigration to the U.S. could create a bilingual society and a fundamental change in American culture.

Such sentiments have played a role in debates over U.S. immigration law and touched off a controversy earlier this year over a Spanish-language version of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Closer to home, controversy ensued after an effort by Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan to make English the official language of the Bergen County borough.
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English-only debate: The law is bad for business

An excellent piece telling everyone that English-only law is bad for the country. DP

By SANDRA SANCHEZ, GUEST COLUMNIST I am thankful to this country, for it opened its doors to me and my family 15 years ago. An immigrant citizen from Mexico, I strongly opposed Iowa's "English-only" law.

Being born outside the United States gives me a different perspective, whether consciously or not, on some issues than many Iowans may have. I've been exposed to very diverse peoples all my life - in Mexico due to my parents' jobs and in Iowa due to my own job. For me, differences in language and culture solely represent an easy opening for a fascinating conversation.

The "English-only" law has meant nothing positive for the state or its residents. After its approval, there was an immediate increase in the number of people reporting national-origin discrimination instances at my office. It takes time and resources from both governmental and private agencies to address them. Also, funds to teach adults English as a second language are shrinking every year.

Recently, Honda announced plans to open a new plant somewhere in the Midwest. Ohio had an "English-only" bill on the table. "We want to make sure we're not creating barriers for those types of situations ... if you have families coming from another country, in terms of management or the like, you want to make sure there are no unintended consequences for those families," said House Speaker Jon A. Husted after the vote that killed the bill.

Most people seem to ignore the hard facts, but big businesses don't. A few years ago, I asked a high-level executive from Pioneer Hi-Bred whether English is the language of international business. He said, "The business language is that of my clients, whatever it is!" Supporters of "English only" believe it has no practical impact. Losing business and opportunities for growth have practical and negative impacts, which are often more expensive than the costs associated with dealing with different languages.
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Sunday, October 08, 2006

U.S. Latinos lose Spanish over time, study finds

Another story that disproves the theory of some people who insist English will be lost here and this will become a Spanish speaking country. DP

Yvonne Wingett and Matt Dempsey, The Arizona Republic Jessica Olguin dances salsa and cumbia. She belongs to a Latino-based club at Phoenix College, and most of her friends are Hispanic.

But the 19-year-old Latina doesn't speak Spanish.

"I've even taken Spanish classes to learn," the central Phoenix student said. "It kind of seems like I'm not taking a part of my past, my ancestry with me because my parents didn't teach it to me."

Hispanics such as Olguin are quickly losing Spanish with each generation in the United States, according to a new study, and the grandchildren of immigrants are likely to speak only English. By the third generation, only 17 percent of Hispanics speak Spanish fluently, and by the fourth generation, it drops to 5 percent.

The study challenges the perception that Hispanics resist learning English and that heavy immigration from Spanish-speaking countries threatens the American identity.
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Lack of English skills handcuffs immigrants

This story gives statistics about immigrants and their opportunities related to their knowledge of English. There are long waiting lists for ESL classes. DP

ESL funding, space hard to come by

By Lisa Eckelbecker, TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF WORCESTER— English language skills mark a new economic dividing line between immigrants, but organizations are straining to find enough money and space to expand English classes for foreign-born people living in Central Massachusetts, community leaders said yesterday.

As many as 4,000 to 5,000 immigrants in Worcester may be on waiting lists for English as a Second Language classes, even as hundreds more cram into courses at community centers and colleges, local officials said at a presentation at the Beechwood Hotel on “The Changing Face of Massachusetts” by MassINC, a Boston-based think tank.

“We have to eliminate these waiting lists for ESL to make any dent in this issue,” said Donald H. Anderson, director of Workforce Central Career Center, which has three employment centers in the region.

The dividing line between immigrants who speak and read English and those who do not matters, because native-born residents have been leaving the state and immigrants compose a growing part of the Massachusetts population and economy.

By 2004, immigrants represented 14.3 percent of the state population, up from 9.5 percent in 1990, according to MassINC. Sometime before the end of this year, the number of immigrants in the state should hit 1 million, said MassINC Research Director Dana Ansel.

“This we haven’t seen since the early 1900s,” she said.
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County joins with Mexico to teach immigrants about health care

Another case where the Mexican government is helping their people who live in the U.S. DP

By GENEVIEVE BOOKWALTER, SENTINEL STAFF WRITER Diabetes screenings, blood pressure readings and a dance contest are just some of the events planned for Santa Cruz County's first Binational Health Week next week.

Sponsored jointly by the Mexican and United States governments, the program aims to help immigrants detect and prevent disease.

"Walls might be built on our common border, but still we have responsibilities toward the migrants," Bruno Figueroa, the Mexican consul general based in San Jose, said during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

In previous years, Binational Health Week has been held the second week in October around California, the United States and Mexico. During that week, federal, state and local governments sponsor programs on disease prevention and living healthy as a Mexican immigrant in the United States. Participants in the Santa Cruz County event can test for diseases, enroll in low-cost or free health services, listen to health seminars and learn more about how the American emergency medical system works.

One health fair will be held near the Watsonville Farmers Market on Friday, Oct. 13, at Main and Peck streets, so shoppers can stop by and learn more about their health, too.
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Mexico helps teach Spanish

The Mexican government is helping fund this program to teach N.C. immigrants their native language. Then these people will be able to learn English easier. Hopefully that government can put more money into their own schools, so there are not so many illiterates there. DP

By GIL KLEIN and SERGIO QUINTANA, Media General News Service DURHAM, N.C. - The immigrants from Mexico and El Salvador crowded around their teacher at St. Paul Methodist Church as she taught some basics of how to read and write.

But the eight adults weren't learning English, the language of their adopted country. They were learning Spanish, the language of the countries they left behind.

And they were learning it with the help of the Mexican government, which supplied the textbooks, helped train the teacher and provided a $15,000 grant to support the program.

"We start with the alphabet where we get students who don't know anything at all about how to read or write," said Francisca Fragoso, the teacher. "In many cases, they only know how to write their names because they know how to copy it from a piece of paper they carry around."
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Hispanics bring world of diversity to the city

There are at least 21 countries represented in the Hispanic community in Corpus Christi, more than half are from Mexico. All are adding to the flavor of this area. DP

By Mike Baird, Caller Times No matter the country, the culture of many Coastal Bend residents of Hispanic origin is ingrained through support of the family and the celebration of common cultural links passed to new generations, said Cuban-born Evaristo Tercilla, 80.

The son of a chocolate factory owner from Santiago, Cuba, first brought his architectural skills to Cleveland in 1964 so his family could know freedom. His employer offered Tercilla a job in Corpus Christi, then he later worked for the City of Corpus Christi for more than 20 years as a wastewater superintendent. Tercilla knew it was important to show others how immigration shaped the way of life of people in the Coastal Bend.

Now, many local people with ties to different Latin countries credit him as founder/president of Instituto de Cultura Hispanica de Corpus Christi. Tercilla says there were five families who first met in their homes, developed bylaws, and sparked the organization on Oct. 12, 1976, to help identify the diversity of Hispanic culture in this city.

"Many people thought if you spoke Spanish you were from Mexico," Tercilla said. "A community is as strong as the variety of its people."
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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Helping hands make a home

A community cleanup group helped these immigrants by cleaning up their rundown apartment building. These immigrants are learning that the community cares about them. DP

Churches, groups sweep in, share resources with immigrants at Centlivre

By Nicole Lee Hawo Gadud, 30, a native of Somalia has lived in on the fourth floor of Building No. 3 at Centlivre Village Apartments, 2903 Westbrook Drive, for about a year and a half.

A mother of four, she walked around the grounds last Saturday with her 6-month-old son strapped to her right hip with a large piece of red and white cloth that was wrapped around her.

She smiled, looking at what was happening around her as about 100 volunteers from area churches and other groups worked at Centlivre last weekend as part of a community cleanup organized by NeighborLink Fort Wayne. The organization works to connect volunteers with community projects via an online message board and offers other support resources.

Workers were applying fresh white paint to the lobby and around the elevators of her building. Out front, others were planting bright yellow flowers. Residents looked from their windows at it all, and some of their smiles were as broad as Gadud’s.
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Preserving language for second-generation community

In the Hispanic and Vietnamese communities (and most or all others), second generation immigrants are losing their native language. Some families are working hard to help their children keep their language. DP

By Chau Nguyen / 11 News Southern California’s large Hispanic community is seeing a language shift.
A study finds that the Spanish language is dying out as English becomes the dominant one.

Now, it appears to be happening in Houston, where one immigrant community’s next generation could be losing their language.

At a one deli, Vietnamese food is served and, by in large, ordered in the Vietnamese language.
Young Vietnamese Americans like Le Vu might prefer speaking English, but, “it’s easier to speak to them in Vietnamese that way they don’t get confused if I speak to them in English,” he said.

And it’s a language dilemma that goes beyond this deli.

With the first wave of immigrants being replaced by a second generation comes this question: Are the children of these immigrants losing their language?
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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Citizenship dreams come true

300 immigrants, from 52 countries, were sworn in as U.S. citizens, each has his or her own story. All were encouraged to make their own mark on our society and teach others about their cultures. DP

By Christopher Behnan, DAILY PRESS & ARGUS

DAILYPRESS& Vera Pecaj took a major step forward on Monday in achieving two lifelong goals — earning the right to vote in the United States and the opportunity to become an interpreter for the FBI.
Pecaj, a French native of Albanian heritage, was one of 300 immigrants from 52 countries sworn in as U.S. citizens Monday at the Howell High School Freshman Campus.

Pecaj moved to the United States in 1999, met her soon-to-be husband, Luigi, and the couple had their first child, Mark, now 4.

"My son is American. My husband is American," Pecaj, now of Brighton, said. "So I might as well be an American. I've lived here all these years and I feel I'm part of the community."

Pecaj works full-time hours at a Brighton preschool and teaches French for a private company on the side. She previously taught courses in English as a second language at Hartland High School.
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Students Learn From Naturalization Ceremony

Young ELL students witnessed an immigration ceremony after studying civics and history and learning what it takes to pass the immigration test. DP

By Kelli Grant This morning 40 immigrants became US citizens in a Sioux Falls Courtroom. And as families celebrated... students witnessed a piece of history.

It's one of the happiest days of an immigrant's life - finally becoming a US citizen, finally having the same rights as someone who was born here.

For Hawthorne Elementary's 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade English Language Learners today was a real life lesson, outside the classroom.

Teacher Cheryl Bennett says, "We want to be innovators and we want to teach in a way that's really going to engage our learners and give them something that will be cemented in their memory."

For three weeks, these students have been studying civics. Their teachers say witnessing this morning's naturalization ceremony incorporates a lesson that meets state standards

Bennett says, "We had them prepared with the curriculum and the things that we wanted them to know ahead of time."

Those standards require students be able to describe the way the government provides for the needs of its citizens, and be able to describe key events related to South Dakota's entry into statehood.

ELL student Edin Cardona says he learned, "They have to learn English and they have to take a test to be a citizen."

"They have to be good and that 's why they come here cause they wanna learn english," says ELL student Jonathan Coronado.

Many of the students in the program are not naturalized citizens. Their teachers hope witnessing this ceremony will inspire them to become active citizens and one day take that oath of allegiance.

"I think a lot of these kids have that hope for their parents as well," says Bennett.

Those students who were not born in the United States must be 18 years old to become US citizens. They also must know how to speak, read, and write the English language, and among other requirements they must pass a naturalization test on US history.

Asian immigrants realize The American Dream

Another story about an immigrant who worked 2 full time jobs for many years to reach him American Dream. He now owns a restaurant. DP

By Jennifer DeWitt For 10 long years, Ky Lai would leave his day job at a clothing factory to work the dinner shift at a Chinese restaurant.

It was a grueling schedule, but Lai was a young man on a quest.

Just 19 years old and not knowing a word of English, Lai realized half of his American dream when he left his homeland of Vietnam for a new life in the United States. He arrived in the Quad-Cities on Sept. 27, 1991 — a day engraved in his memory.

From the very first day that he bused tables at the Yen Ching restaurant in Davenport, Lai said “I wanted to be a boss.”

So he devoted himself to working as many hours as he could to build a nest egg. “To open a restaurant I need to have experience, and I need to have money.
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Making the Grade: Immigrant Children Keep Academic Pace with Peers

This is a recent study that shows immigrant children do as well or better than American-born children in school. Even though many of them live in poverty and have many strikes against them, they are motivated and do well. DP Far from being a burden on the educational system, research from Florida State University shows immigrant children perform as well or better than their same-race, American-born counterparts.

FSU Sociology Professor Kathryn Harker Tillman found that first- and second- generation children are no more likely than their third-generation peers to have to repeat a grade despite the many social and economic disadvantages they face. The finding is true for immigrant youth of all racial and ethnic backgrounds or countries of origin. The study, co-authored by colleagues Guang Guo and Kathleen Mullan Harris from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was published in the journal Social Science Research.

“Immigrant children are more successful navigating the educational system than would be expected,” Tillman said. “Against the odds, these children are performing as well as or better than their same-race, third-generation peers."

The researchers used both the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to look at grade retention among a total of nearly 20,000 school-age children. They focused on grade retention rather than more traditional markers of educational performance, such as high school graduation, dropout rates or grades in order to see how immigrant children navigate the educational system, not just the end result.
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Immigration raid devastates Ga. town

People who don't believe that this country can't survive without all these workers should read this story. DP

Half of workforce lost; businesses at virtual standstill

By Russ Bynum, Associated Press STILLMORE, Ga. -- Trailer parks lie abandoned. The poultry plant is scrambling to replace more than half its workforce. Business has dried up at stores where Mexican laborers once lined up to buy food, beer, and cigarettes just weeks ago.

This Georgia community of about 1,000 people has become little more than a ghost town since Sept. 1, when federal agents began rounding up illegal immigrants.

The sweep has had the unintended effect of underscoring just how vital the illegal immigrants were to the local economy.
More than 120 illegal immigrants have been loaded onto buses bound for immigration courts in Atlanta, 189 miles away. Hundreds more fled Emanuel County. Residents say many scattered into the woods, camping out for days. They worry some are still hiding without food.

At least one child, born a US citizen, was left behind by his Mexican parents: 2-year-old Victor Perez-Lopez. The toddler's mother, Rosa Lopez, left her son with Julie Rodas when the raids began and fled the state. The boy's father was deported to Mexico.

`When his momma brought this baby here and left him, tears rolled down her face and mine, too," Rodas said. ``She said, `Julie, will you please take care of my son because I have no money, no way of paying rent?' "
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Linguistic Death Stalks California

This study says that like death and taxes, native language death is a certainty in the U.S. DP

By JENNIFER JOHNSON and AARON RUTKOFF DEAD LANGUAGE? A new study by a trio of academics, writing in this month's edition of Population and Development Review, looks at the debate over the perceived failure of English-language assimilation by Spanish-speaking immigrants and their descendents. Their 14-page journal article uses data from language surveys, conducted in Los Angeles and San Diego between 1970 and 2005, to establish "linguistic life expectancies -- the average number of generations a mother tongue can be expected to survive in the U.S. after the arrival of an immigrant."

For the purposes of their study, a person's mother language is considered "dead" if the person believes herself unable to speak it "very well" or if she speaks English at home. The study compared California's Spanish speakers to several Asian and European immigrant groups. The density of the Spanish-speaking population in Southern California allows Mexican immigrants, for example, to continue speaking their mother tongue very well until the third generation -- longer than any other group in the study -- but Spanish still goes extinct thereafter. When measured by language of preference at home, "the survival curves for Mexicans and other Latin American groups look much more like those of Asians and white Europeans."

"Like taxes and biological death," the study concludes, "linguistic death is a sure thing in the U.S., even for Mexicans living in Los Angeles, a city with one of the largest Spanish-speaking urban populations in the world."

Immigrants tell their stories

Ten immigrants, participants in a New Americans, New Voices program are sharing their remarkable stories with the public. DP

By Mariana Lamaison Sears, Free Press Staff Writer It was Hon Ly's turn to read an excerpt of his story Sunday on the second floor of the Firehouse Center for the Visual Arts. Ly, originally from Vietnam, stood up, reached the lectern, looked up at the room full of people, and began to read.

"We arrived on Pulau Bidong Island in Malaysia on the evening of April 17. I felt safe from danger, very tired and hungry for the first time in four days. I ate two bowls of noodles," he said slowly, trying not to cry.

Ly and nine other immigrants and refugees who have been participating in the New Americans, New Voices writing program since late February began a reading tour Sunday to share their stories with the community. At the premiere reading, the program's participants read excerpts from their works, describing powerful and inspirational stories.

"The cleaning and dishwashing can't be described. We used toothbrushes for cleaning window corners and Clorox for washing cooking pots and pans. We stood for over 14 hours a day," Paulina Angory read about the job she had in Cairo, Egypt, in 2000. Angory, 34, of Winooski, became a refugee in Egypt after fleeing from her native Sudan.
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Poll: Immigrants Should Have Chance At Citizenship

By Raj Chohan DENVER: A majority of voters surveyed in a recent Rocky Mountain News/CBS4 News poll said they favored a type of immigration reform that offered some sort of pathway to citizenship.

56 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of independents said they favor immigration reform similar to what the President has proposed. The results showed 15 percent of Coloradans said we ought to deport illegal immigrants.

"Colorado voters want a policy that's tough but fair on immigration," said Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies. "Six in 10 voters prefer essentially the Senate legislation on immigration that would essentially allow an earned path to citizenship."

Forty percent of the voters in the poll said they know of someone or suspect they know someone who is an illegal immigrant.

"So today, only 15 percent of Coloradans say we ought to deport all illegal immigrants in our country," Weigel said. "A majority, a solid majority, say that instead there ought to be some pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants that are already here, who promise to learn English, pay back taxes, they should become citizens."

The poll also found that three-quarters of those surveyed believe the immigration measures passed during a special session of the State Legislature will have little to no impact on the immigration problem.