Friday, January 27, 2006

Banks aim to help immigrants send money home

Immigrants send money to support their families in their home land. Until now they paid high fees and often were cheated. The big banks are starting to get in on the action. They're doing it because it is good business, but it will also help the immigrants, at least the money will get to their families and the fees will be reasonable. DP

Each year, $100 billion is sent from the US to relatives living abroad. Wire-transfer outfits have gained, but now banks may do it better.
By Diana Ransom | Contributor to The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor: NEW YORK РEvery month, Jos̩ Valencia sends between $300 and $400 to his sisters and other relatives in Ecuador from the Delgado Travel office in Queens, N.Y.

"We never cease to do that," says Mr. Valencia, who heads the New York Association for New Americans, an immigrant advocacy group. "We are always going to send money home."

Delgado Travel, a family-owned business with 35 locations in New York, New Jersey, and Illinois, serves between 8,000 and 11,000 customers a day. But Valencia is considering switching to Citibank. "They are the biggest bank in the whole world," he says. "With a lot of these small companies, you don't know whether the money is going to get there. So I would deal with a big bank because I know that [it is] going to be there."

Besides reputation, loosening regulations and lower fees are changing the way immigrants transfer money. The result may hurt longtime operations like Delgado Travel, while bringing immigrants into the mainstream financial fold.

Citibank, HSBC, Bank of America, and other banks are seeking a piece of the $100 billion immigrants send home each year. Advanced electronic systems and widespread distribution networks - a product of mergers with banks in other countries - have enabled banks in the United States to provide money transfers for lower fees.
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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Study disputes idea illegal immigrants burden taxpayers ATLANTA - A study released Thursday by an Atlanta policy group disputes the notion that illegal immigrants are only a drain on taxpayers.

The study issued by the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute estimates that Georgia's illegal immigrants pay up to $252 million a year in taxes. The GBPI found that the average illegal immigrant family in Georgia pays an estimated $2300.00 in state and local sales, income and property taxes combined.

The report comes as the Legislature prepares to consider legislation to deny state-funded services to illegal immigrants.

Read the Report Undocumented Immigrants in Georgia: Tax Contribution and Fiscal Concerns

English for Latinos initiated at Port Orange Library

More people helping immigrants learn English. It is absolutely necessary for them to learn English in order to succeed. DP

By MARIA HERRERA, Staff Writer

Daytona Beach news-journalonline: The late Texas Congressman Sam Rayburn once said: "No one has a finer command of language than the person who keeps his mouth shut."

But to make it in the United States and achieve the American dream, many immigrants believe they must speak up and be proficient in English.

That's in part why longtime librarian Agnes Rivera created a new program at the Port Orange Regional Library to help non-English speakers of Hispanic descent polish their language skills.

"We're providing a door for people who cannot go to other institutions," said Rivera, a librarian at the Deltona Regional Library who's worked for the Volusia library system since 1989. "We don't ask where you come from or what kind of documents you have."

Ingles para Latinos, or English for Latinos, will employ the English for Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL, instruction program for beginners and intermediate students.
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Colvin Center helps immigrants earn citizenship

People who are born here have no idea how hard it is for immigrants to learn English and pass the citizenship test. Besides determination and hard work, it takes time. DP

By ROBERT PIERCE, Southwest Daily Times

Southwest Daily Times: The Colvin Adult Learning Center has been helping immigrants from many countries become American citizens for 15 years.

"We have had students from Canada," Elva Morales said. "We have had some from Somalia. We've had some Vietnamese, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Cambodia, Laos, Mexico, Guatamala, Nicaragua, England. We've had them from all over."

Morales teaches citizenship classes at the adult basic education center several times a week.

"I teach citizenship class on Sunday afternoons and also on Saturday morning," she said. "During the week, Monday through Thursday, the ones that are getting ready for their interview come in for tutoring. They come in in the evenings and on Saturday mornings."

The requirements immigrants need to become American citizens are numerous, according to Morales.

"I have to teach them the history, the government of the United States," she said. "I have to teach them to read, to write and to be able to carry on a conversation, because they are going to be tested on all of this. I only do the whole group together on Sundays, and usually it takes me about four to five months. These students that qualify for citizenship have to have been here with a residency card for five years, or they can apply after three years if they have been married to an American citizen for those three years."

The thing Morales said she admires most about the students in the class is their ability to have a full-time job while taking the class.
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Out of the shadows

Immigrants who took advantage of the offer of amnesty in 1986 have done quite well. They have added to the strength of this country and we all have benefited. DP

Immigrants given amnesty via '86 law have fared better
By SHARON McNARY / The Press-Enterprise

The Press-Enterprise: U.S. Army Spec. Gerardo Mercado fought in Iraq alongside a soldier who said he enlisted to become an American citizen. Mercado witnessed the roadside bomb explosion that killed his Mexican-born friend, Jaime Moreno, 28, of Round Lake Beach, Ill.

"That was his wish, to be a citizen and be considered part of this country," Mercado said. "He eventually got it -- post-mortem."

Mercado understood his friend's longing because he had seen it in his own mother. Mercado, who is a citizen, was born in the U.S. to parents who made an illegal dash across the Mexican border into California in 1980 and lived as undocumented immigrants for seven years.

Rosa Mercado said the amnesty profoundly changed the quality of all their lives for the better. "When we came here, we didn't have anything," Rosa Mercado said. "My husband told me, 'One day we're going to have a car for each of us and a house,' and I thought it was impossible."

None of it would have been possible without the amnesty law, Rosa Mercado said. Today, she and Javier have nearly paid off their new home in Perris.
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Friday, January 20, 2006

Student inspired to fight for immigrants' rights

A story about a young woman, in college now and planning to become an immigration lawyer so she can help the Hispanic community she was raised in. DP

By ANDREW TANGEL, The News Journal
Delaware Online, The News Journal: KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. -- Cristina Tlaseca grew up watching her Mexican immigrant father help migrant laborers at the mushroom farms of Southeastern Pennsylvania join a union.

Inspired by his fight, Tlaseca, 19, joined community service projects during high school and conducted health fairs for migrant workers at labor camps.

She also took part in performances to promote tolerance and diversity, including one highlighting migrant laborers' struggles with immigration, poverty and poor health care.

"That's one of the biggest problems, that people are not aware of what's going on in their own community," Tlaseca said.

Tlaseca, who exudes a sense of conviction uncommon to many teenagers, is a freshman at California University of Pennsylvania, where she majors in English and Spanish.

There, she wants to boost the membership and the outreach efforts of a relatively small Latino student group and take on migrant workers' issues, such as a lack of health care.
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Bill would allow illegal immigrants to legally drive in California

It seems to me that we are better off if they have licenses and insurance and good cars. They are going to drive, why not make it safer for all of us? DP


Santa Cruz Sentinel: WATSONVILLE — Nearly 10 cars a week are impounded by the Watsonville Police Department after drivers have been pulled over for some sort of minor traffic violation and officers discover they don't have a driver's license.

It's common in Watsonville and other heavily populated migrant towns, where hundreds, if not thousands, of undocumented immigrants have no choice but to get behind the wheel to get to work, even if it's against the law.

"We find that they'll buy their cars pretty cheap, knowing that they might get pulled over and knowing that their cars are probably going to be taken away from them," said Sgt. Saul Gonzalez, who's done his fair share of impounding in the past few years.

"It would certainly be helpful if illegal immigrants got licenses," he said. "Then we'd be able to track who they are and identify them, and it would help the state financially. The Department of Motor Vehicles could get more revenues from them."
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Assimilation may come at cost of biculturalism

Many articles by Tina Griego on this site. She tells about assimilation from the immigrant's side. DP

By Tina Griego

Rocky Mountain News: Every once in a while, I will introduce myself to a group like this: "I'm a fifth- or sixth-generation New Mexican, part of the assimilated generation of the family. My great-grandparents spoke only Spanish, my grandparents mostly Spanish, my parents only when they didn't want us to understand what they were saying. No one in my generation grew up speaking any Spanish."

The parents line usually gets a few chuckles, and I can almost always tell the politics of the room by the reaction to the word "assimilated." For some, it might prompt nods of approval: It is as it should be. The flame beneath the melting pot holds steady.

Others view the word in its most negative connotation, as a denial of ethnic heritage, a forced submission to the dominant culture. Think Indian boarding schools. Allotment. Remember your grandmother's stories of public humiliation if a word of Spanish or Lakota escaped into the classroom air.

My own feelings are as complex as the topic. My parents wanted us to assimilate. They believed success would come if we equipped ourselves with the tools of mainstream society: an education, the higher the better, and a mastery of English.
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Immigrants do not hurt our economy

This piece shows how immigrants create jobs at the same time they are taking them. DP

for The Dallas Morning News By BENJAMIN POWELL

Vanguardia: The Providence Journal / OAKLAND, CAL. (THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS).- During the past five years, more new immigrants came to the United States than ever before in our history -- nearly 8 million, according to a new study by the Center for Immigration Studies.

This influx has stirred much public debate. But before we adopt new policies, politicians need to distinguish clearly between the real problems caused by immigration and non-problems based on popular myths.

Probably the number-one misconception about immigration is that it harms our economy. In reality, conservative estimates put the net annual gain to the U.S. economy from current immigration at about $20 billion. Instead of recognizing this overall gain, immigration critics typically assert that immigrants take away American jobs, depress wages and drain our tax dollars by consuming social services.

A fundamental truth about our economy is that as long as we desire more goods and services than we have, the number of jobs is practically unlimited. In fact, when we have more workers, we create more jobs. Total employment and the size of the labor force have tracked each other fairly closely over the past 50 years, despite dramatic changes in immigration flows.
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Monday, January 09, 2006

Managing our borders

This opinion piece tells the Catch-22 we and immigrants are in now. The war on terror, businesses needing workers, no way to get into this country legally, the need for reform or to enforce the laws we have, people complaining about illegal immigrants. On and on and on. DP

Neal Peirce / Syndicated columnist
The Seattle Times: Hundreds of new Border Patrol and immigration agents. Gigantic, double-layer steel fences along the California and Arizona borders. Infrared and daylight cameras. Stadium lighting. A new surveillance drone. Expanded detention facilities.

Call it force and fear — America's military formula for immigration control, embodied in legislation the House of Representatives passed in December. The get-tough House Republicans who pushed the bill said they're dead-set against the balance of a guest-worker program, a measure that President Bush and most reformers now favor (and the Senate will soon be debating).

If the House's punitive, military-style response were but an exception, a quick and alarmed response to the flood of 11 million illegal entrants into the U.S., it might be condoned. But it's not; since 1990 we've quadrupled our border agents and installed big amounts of high-tech detention technology — only to see the flood of undocumented migrants increase. The House bill boils down to an ugly war on undocumented immigrants.

It's not our only war. Since the '70s, our vaunted "war on drugs" has failed to make any dent in illegal substance use, even while making trade in drugs ultra-profitable and creating incentive for inner city blocks to turn into criminal hellholes.
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State group backs immigrants' tuition rates

This report shows that the Massachusetts economy will benefit when immigrants who received their high school education in the state get a college education at in-state tuition rates. DP

By ERIK ARVIDSON, Sun Statehouse Bureau

Lowell Sun Online: BOSTON -- Allowing undocumented immigrants to attend public colleges and universities at in-state tuition rates would bring in millions of dollars in revenue within four years, the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation concluded in a report.

The foundation estimates that by 2009, there would be about 600 undocumented immigrants attending state and community colleges and the university system, just a "tiny fraction" of the 160,000-student enrollment.

Michael Widmer, president of the MTF, said the report counters the argument posed by some that allowing undocumented immigrants to attend the colleges at reduced rates would become a financial burden to the state.

"The numbers of immigrants are so small, that it's smaller than the swings that state colleges and the university system get year to year anyway," Widmer said.

The report doesn't tackle the moral or ethical questions raised by those who oppose legislation to allow undocumented immigrant students to get the in-state rates.

However, Widmer said that with Massachusetts continuing to lose population, especially in the career-oriented age group of 25 to 34, immigrants are becoming a much more important part of the state's labor force.

"This is the future of the Massachusetts economy, and the more education people receive, the more earning power they have and the more taxes they pay," Widmer said.

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Immigrants unite to keep dreams alive--and in Mexico

These Mexican-Americans are helping teens in their Mexican hometown get an education so they do not have to head north to work. They wish they could have done that when they were younger and are helping the next generation now. If our government could help build the Mexican economy, more people would stay home to raise their families. DP

By Oscar Avila, Tribune staff reporter

Chicago Tribune: Fernando Fernandez was 17 when he learned that, in Mexico, dreams are too often cast aside. His dream was to become a veterinarian, but reality forced him to migrate to the United States to help support his nine siblings.

Two decades later, he and other Chicago-area immigrants from the central Mexican town of Indaparapeo want to help the next generation hold on to its aspirations.

In an unusual initiative, the group has bankrolled 40 college scholarships designed to let youths stay in Mexico, get an education and avoid a lifetime in a strange land.

"We lived this disappointment, in the flesh," Fernandez said. "Why not create another path?"

The Indaparapeo project runs counter to the usual focus of immigrant associations, which typically pool their money to build bridges, sewer systems and other public works projects back home.

The scholarship initiative is so unusual, Mexican federal officials and development experts said, that they are using it as a national model, one more strategy to slow the devastating exodus of Mexico's brightest young citizens to the U.S.

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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Teachers learn as they teach Somali immigrants

Another story about ESL teachers struggling to help their students. These teachers are heroes and hopefully will get the thanks they deserve, even if they never get enough money for all their work. DP

Refugees - Some of the students brought to Beaverton have never held books before

The Oregonian: BEAVERTON -- Teacher Kim Miller opens the picture book showing elephants grazing on a dry savanna.

The English-as-a-Second-Language teacher hopes a lesson on African animals will resonate with the five students seated before her, recent arrivals from Somalia.

For Miller, making classroom connections to the children's distant homeland doesn't always meet success. The students, brought to Beaverton by humanitarian groups, are refugees of a civil war that's lasted more than a decade and belong to a group that has been persecuted for generations in Africa.

It's not just that they don't read English; they come from a people who have no tradition of reading at all.

"It's been hard to communicate," says Miller, who's taught for five years at Fir Grove Elementary School. "But, we're learning a lot."

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Illegal immigration has snowball effect

This story makes the people who don't want these kids to go to college happy, but it seems a shame if, after getting a high school education here, she can't continue and eventually become legal and become a nurse like she wants to. Then she will start paying back to her community, instead of always earning low wages and living in poverty. DP

The Decatur Daily: Fabiola Guevara's future as a 17-year-old who wanted to go to college reflects the shameful way the U.S. government ignores immigration laws.

The South Florida student graduated with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. She couldn't afford college costs and was ineligible for government assistance. So she's been baby-sitting and thinking she would never get training as a nurse.

Because it's a shame to deny a young person as bright as Ms. Guevara, Congress is considering legislation to help students like her, if they came here before they turned 16 and have lived here at least five years. That would make them eligible for temporary legal status and eligible for college financial aid.

The nation may have as many as 90,000 such students who migrated illegally with their parents. Educating them is a dilemma, so is encouraging more Hispanics to cross the border with their children, hoping to give them an American education.

The long-range solution is to enforce immigration quotas. The alternative to not helping these students is to exploit them as cheap labor, perhaps for the remainder of their lives, or until Congress develops a sane immigration policy.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Children of immigrants are finding their way

When these kids decide that they want an education, they do it. How can people say they don't deserve to continue their education? This kind of dedication and determination is what will keep this country strong. DP

MICHAEL CRIST, Staff Writer, PA : KENNETT SQUARE -- Rosa Quintana had a lot to think about during her junior year at Kennett High School; which college to go to wasn’t exactly at the top of the list.

Neither was becoming a single mother at age 17.

But Quintana had dealt with a tough roll of the dice before. When she was 9 years old, her parents divorced, leaving her in her mother’s care.

It wasn’t until fifth grade when Quintana, who is Puerto Rican and Mexican, first learned to speak English. Yet these difficult situations didn’t get her down; instead, they motivated her.

Throughout her high school career, she achieved distinguished honor roll status, and after graduating in 2004, she enrolled at Immaculata University, where today she is currently studying social work and Spanish.

"I didn’t let anything hold me back," said Quintana, 19, who, in addition to her full-time studies, also proudly announced she had recently started a full-time teller position at Citizens Bank in West Grove. "Doing better was my dream."

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Immigrants tell American stories through recipes

This is how America was built; cultures, customs, tastes from all over the world. DP

Lawyer illuminates clients’ experiences in new cookbook
By MARY SANCHEZ, The Kansas City Star

Kansas City Star, Mira Mdivani is counting on the adage that food is the way to the heart.

Mdivani, an Overland Park immigration lawyer, long wanted to write a book about immigration to explain its intricacies and deflate negative perceptions of immigrants.

“There is so much hatred in people’s minds about immigration,” said Mdivani, an immigrant from the former Soviet Union.

But Mdivani was simply too busy with her many cases, her fund-raising efforts and her family.

So she let her clients tell their own stories, through food.

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Indiantown's immigrant children see potential of higher education

A terrific demonstration of how the migrant parents know the importance of their children getting an education. Many of these kids are going on to college. They will be able to succeed in this country, paying taxes, starting businesses, teaching other kids. This is the American way. DP


TCPalm FL: INDIANTOWN — When Consuelo Macedo was little, her parents, like many parents in Indiantown, took her and her six brothers and sisters into the fields to pick fruit on school breaks to teach her a lesson even school couldn't.

The fields were crowded with children.

It was hot and her back ached from stooping, but the experience had her parents' desired effect — Macedo decided she would never work in the fields, choosing education instead.

Her parents, Mexican immigrants from towns near Guadalajara, came to the United States to give their children a better way of life, she said.

"I knew that this was not what I wanted to do," Macedo said. "Even though my parents didn't have an education, they knew the value of it and wanted it for us."

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Monday, January 02, 2006

Tougher border enforcement keeps immigrants from going home

Immigrants would rather return to Mexico (during the months when they can't work here), where they have work and family, but can't risk the return trip. They're stuck here, living in deplorable conditions, not able to earn money, getting food from food banks and other charities. They are more of a drain on the system, and it's working to everyone's detriment. If these workers had some type of worker visa, they could travel legally across the border to work here and return home when the job is over. We need the workers, and the present system makes it worse for them. DP

Associated Press
The Mercury News, PARLIER, Calif. - Acres of leafless vineyards surround this town of 12,000 in California's San Joaquin Valley, the bare branches a stark reminder that in the middle of winter, there is little work in the fields.

Traditionally, many of the migrants who crossed the border illegally to plant and harvest returned home to Mexico by the time the winter fog unfurled over California's farm belt, emptying towns such as Parlier to spend Christmas and New Year's with family.

That annual migration has slowed dramatically in the past few years, as tougher border enforcement has prompted fears of capture and persuaded many immigrants to stay put - even if there is little work in the U.S.

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Immigrants Must Learn English and Become Americans

This country doesn’t need millions of visitors living and working here. We need millions of Americans living and working here. And what we really need is for the immigrants who are here to become Americans. The most important thing they have to do to become American, is learn the language that most of the residents speak.

These people will never learn the laws or the rights they are entitled to, will never get good jobs, will never become successful, will never become Americans if they don’t speak English. And they will certainly never learn much about this country they moved to or feel any loyalty to it. In their minds, they will always be guests or visitors, always planning, however unrealistically, that they will go “home” sometime.

When Spanish speaking immigrants first arrive in this country, legal or not, they should be encouraged to learn English. Right now, they don’t have to. They can live here quite easily and even drive without speaking ANY English. They can get government forms in Spanish and almost all offices and departments have interpreters available for them. This certainly makes it easier and safer for them to live here, but it is perpetuating the problem and proving to them that learning English is unnecessary.

When Hispanic immigrants don’t learn English, they are doomed to remain second class citizens (or never become citizens). They are segregated in their “ghettos” and never assimilate. They are forced to take low paying jobs, their children are raised in poverty, often don’t finish school, take low paying jobs themselves, raise their own children in poverty and remain in this cycle.

Our federal and local governments must organize English classes for all immigrants, regardless of legal status. While they are learning English, they should be taught some of our laws and history. If these people are ever to become citizens, they must be given the opportunity to learn how to do that. This isn’t something people can figure out for themselves, they have to be taught.

Obviously there will be some cost to this, but the returns will more than make up for it. If these newcomers understand the language and laws, they will not get in as much legal trouble or traffic accidents, they will be able to get better jobs and pay more taxes, they will be healthier, they will be loyal Americans and contribute much more to this country. When parents speak English and get involved in their children’s schools, the children are likely to get better grades and the school benefits. When the schools are more successful, it helps the neighborhood.

Much of the animosity felt by citizens here is because these immigrants don’t speak English. Some think they are stupid, some think they are arrogant, some think they are dangerous. They actually are probably confused, scared or shy because they can’t communicate. If these people, the immigrants and the ones who are feeling the animosity, started talking to each other and found out all the things they have in common, I’m sure the bad feelings would dissolve. That can only happen with a common language.

About 50% of Europeans speak more than one language and only 10% of Americans do. Most Americans don’t realize how difficult it is to learn a language as an adult and don’t have much compassion for immigrants who have heavy accents or are too shy to try out their few English words and learn more.

Americans can do so much more to help immigrants. This country was built by immigrants, imagine how hard it was for our grandparents to move here and learn the language and the culture and succeed. They helped make this a strong country, we can help make it even stronger by helping the new residents integrate into this society and become Americans.

Immigrants have to be shown how important it is to learn English and how much they will benefit when they do. Their success adds to our success and everyone who lives here benefits when immigrants succeed.