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.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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?
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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?' "
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

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.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Language barriers

Working 65 hours a week makes it very difficult to also go to English classes, but these immigrants understand how important it is. DP

Immigrants see English as vital, but work, family limit time to learn

By LORI RODRIGUEZ, Houston Chronicle In the Edin Espino family, late of Guatemala and now living in one of southwest Houston's sprawling, immigrant-filled apartment complexes, the best English is spoken by 4 1/2 -year-old preschooler Edin Jr.

The senior Espino, 27, understands enough to get by at his two jobs, one in a grocery store produce section and another at a nearby restaurant, but he can't hold a conversation. His wife, Clara, 33, understands the occasional word. Three-year-old German and Aida, 16 months, perk up when they hear "bye-bye" and other commonly used terms. But after six years in the U.S. living in one of the city's urban barrios, Spanish is the dominant language spoken inside and outside their home.

"I want to learn English. I know it would help me get ahead. But I have to work 65 hours a week to raise my children and pay my bills. That has to come first before anything," says Espino.

He has plenty of company.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Seeing the other side on immigrants

I wish everyone who says immigrants "should just do the paperwork and apply legally", could read this account. DP

By Laurel Walker In the great immigration debate, Brookfield resident Mary Smith says she, like many of her fellow Americans, has had little sympathy for illegal aliens.

"What's the big deal?" she'd asked herself. "Become legal. Just do the paperwork."

Now, experiencing the legal immigration process from inside, she sees it differently.

What should have been the easiest way for a foreign-born citizen to legally migrate to this country - as the spouse of an American-born citizen -has become a nightmare.

It's kept a young family - Smith's American-born daughter, Rhiannon Lange, 25, her husband from the Dominican Republic, Jeyson Seneli, 23, and the couple's 4-month-old baby, Jeyson Taylor Seneli - apart too long.

The wait is excruciating.

Lange, who grew up in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties and graduated from Oconomowoc High School and the University of Utah, met her future husband while both were on missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the western Dominican Republic.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

New building to help Literacy Council add programs

This non-profit offers free English classses for immigrants. DP

By Alejandra Diaz The Literacy Council of Bonita Springs is growing quickly and the demand for classes has forced the center to acquire a new building on Old 41.

The 1,640-square-foot space won’t replace the two existing offices and classroom spaces of its current office, but will give instructors and tutors the ability to expand class offerings to the community.

“We are so grateful that we were able get the space because we need it. There are so many students that want English classes in the evenings,” said Susan Acuna, executive director of the Literacy Council.

Students will get many new offerings as the new building provides classroom space, a room for the ever growing Moms & Tots Family Literacy program, a kitchen and a director’s office.

“The extra space is good for us because we can provide classes for 20 to 25 more students in the evening,” said Diego Grisales, the council’s new program director.
Grisales was hired to oversee the offerings at the new site and keep things in line with the main office across the street.

Over the years, the council has expanded it’s services in response to Bonita Springs’ growing Hispanic population.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Immigrants turn Utah into mini-melting pot

Until 1970, Utah was 98% white, now it is attracting many immigrants and becoming a mini melting pot. DP

By Haya El Nasser, USA TODAY SALT LAKE CITY — In the shadow of the Mormon faith's majestic headquarters, the fountain at the center of the Gateway Plaza outdoor mall is a popular backdrop for weddings. On a scorching day, Hispanic and Anglo children run side by side through the pulsating sprays of water.

Marriage and kids: They're the pillars of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which dominates many facets of life in Utah. But diversity?

Immigration is changing the complexion of communities across the USA. As it sweeps through Utah, traditionally one of the least diverse and most conservative states in the nation, its impact is particularly dramatic. About 98% white until 1970, Utah is becoming a mini-melting pot.

While conservative Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are pushing to tighten borders and make illegal immigrants felons, factors unique to Utah are attracting Hispanics to this reddest of red states. Among them: the Mormon church's philosophy of outreach and its embrace of large families.

These influences have helped give the state a reputation of being warm and welcoming to immigrants. Utah allows the undocumented to drive legally with a "driving privilege card." They can attend public colleges and universities and pay in-state tuition. Minorities — mostly Hispanics — make up 16.5% of the population, up from 8.8% in 1990. They could reach 20% by 2010. Hispanics are driving the growth among minorities here. The state's black and Asian populations also are growing but more slowly.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Workshops teach financial skills to migrants

Immigrants often distrust banks, preferring to carry all their cash with them or hide it in their homes. These workshops are teaching them that it is safer and will earn money in a bank account. DP

By Louie Gilot / El Paso Times Manuel Salais, 45, has been working in the United States for five years, but until a month ago, he carried his wages in his pocket.
"I know that's not a good idea, but I didn't know any better," he said.

Now his money is flourishing in a savings account, and Salais talks like a real capitalist.

"In my pocket, a dollar today won't be worth a dollar next week. But in a bank, it pays off," he said.

Salais is exactly the type of client banks are courting -- with a steady income, growing purchasing power and dreams of homeownership.

But before banks can tap into the new immigrant population, they must educate many on the intricacies of American banking.

More than half of all Mexican immigrants lack bank accounts, according to 2000 figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

This week and next, the Mexican Consulate in El Paso is promoting free banking workshops for immigrants by El Paso Affordable Housing Credit Union Service Organization, a group of eight credit unions that provide financial education programs in English and Spanish. El Paso Affordable Housing has weekly free financial classes throughout the county.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Gala to mark decade of aid

This agency is celebrating 10 years of aiding Hispanic immigrants in Georgetown. DP

Gala to mark decade of aid
By Gwen Guerke, Sussex Post For a decade, La Esperanza has been a haven and support for new Hispanic immigrants, and that mission will be celebrated at a gala benefit on Nov. 11.

Zaida Guajardo, the agency’s executive director, says La Esperanza’s humble beginnings planted a seed that has grown into a landmark on Race Street in the county seat.

La Esperanza started as La Casita in a small house, also on Race Street, a project of the Sisters of Charity.

“La Casita is where it all began, and it outgrew that house too fast,” said Mrs. Guajardo, a native of Puerto Rico.

With assistance from a Washington-based foundation, the sisters bought a larger house that has been converted into comfortable offices to offer assistance in immigration issues, plus language, education and parenting and life-skills programs.

“We help them renew permits to obtain legal status,” Mrs. Guajardo said.

Although most of their clients immigrated from Guatemala and Mexico, Mrs. Guajardo says people from Honduras, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic have also requested help.

Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

City's future tied to Mexicans

Chicago wants their Mexican residents to use their bilingual and bicultural skills to help make Chicago a center for international business and expand the local economy. DP

Study says region must widen choices
By Oscar Avila Tribune staff reporter To thrive, the Chicago region must integrate its Mexican population into the social and economic life of the area, according to a report released Wednesday.

The report, produced by a Chicago Council on Global Affairs task force, urged Mexican community leaders, local government and other institutions to focus on unleashing the potential of Mexican immigrants and their children through improving job training, home ownership, elementary education and political participation.

The authors said the topic is urgent now that 1 in 6 area residents is of Mexican descent, with the Mexican community expected to double by 2030.

"The success of Chicago in the future is linked to the success of the Mexican community," said Clare Munana, president of Ancora Associates Inc. and one of the task force's three co-chairs.

The diverse task force included the heads of the Illinois AFL-CIO and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce as well as corporate CEOs, elected officials, philanthropists and social activists.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Building tribute to success of Bonita literacy council

These students understand that without English they are at a disadvantage, and are learning now, even though it is difficult. The Literacy Council of Bonita Springs is helping. DP

By Pedro Morales In the 11 years Demetria Gonzalez has lived in America, she has managed to survive without speaking English.

She sees her chance to improve her life by learning English at the Literacy Council of Bonita Springs.

"It's my fault I haven't learned English," said Gonzalez, who immigrated from a remote part of Mexico where neither English nor Spanish is spoken.

"But I'm learning, little by little," she said.

In recent years, the council has ridden a wave of awareness in the Hispanic community that English is essential. The nonprofit has pressed on during a time when undocumented immigrants are the target of some government and community groups.

It is one of the fastest-growing social services in Bonita Springs. Its ripples have reached public schools, the job market, community gatherings.

Six years ago the council — which has offered free English classes since 1989 — had 150 students, 130 tutors and a $25,000 budget. In 2006, they've taught 1,379 students with 490 tutors. The budget is about $300,000.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Preparing Hispanic Parents and Children for School

Preschool classes, taught in Spanish at the Long Island Children’s Museum, get the parents and their children ready for the first day of classes. The parents are also taught that it is extremely important to be involved in the schools. DP

By VALERIE COTSALAS GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — Chunky yellow Play-Doh hamburgers, jars of primary-color paint and cardboard letter tiles filled up part of a room at the Long Island Children’s Museum here. Nearby on a carpet, a group of children stared up at a teacher who turned a book around to show them the pictures.

It wasn’t exactly a scene in a kindergarten classroom, but it was close.

The museum room is designed to resemble a kindergarten, complete with a teacher and structured activities, as a way to introduce children from immigrant Hispanic families to an American classroom before they walk into one today for their first day of school.

A total of 60 children attended the first summer sessions of the museum’s pre-school program, Juntos al Kinder, Spanish for Together to Kindergarten. They were from five Nassau school districts — Hempstead, Freeport, Roosevelt, Uniondale and Westbury — with large numbers of families who speak little or no English at home.

Census figures show that since 2000, immigrant populations have grown faster in the suburbs than in New York City, a shift from traditional patterns in which immigrants first settled in cities offering lower-cost housing and jobs.

That change is readily visible in Long Island’s public schools, whose student populations are increasingly diverse.

In Uniondale, 16 of the children in the museum program will begin kindergarten. The number of Hispanic children in the district who speak only Spanish or limited English has tripled in the last five years, according to Brenda Williams-Jackson, the principal of the Northern Parkway Elementary School in Uniondale.

Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Immigrants of all kinds work hard, deserve respect

The director of the Catholic Committee for Immigration Reform of the Diocese of San Jose wrote this opinion piece. Read the whole thing, please. DP

By Jon Pedigo

Mercury In our daily work with immigrants through legal services, social services, education, health care and pastoral care, we see too many immigrant workers who labor without sufficient rights or protections while the children and families they seek to feed and protect become the primary scapegoats of the broken immigration system.

We understand the fundamental reasons why people leave their country of origin -- survival, safety, freedom, work and hope for a better life for their families.

Yet the inherent dignity of migrants, regardless of their immigration status, is not respected. We see the degradation of immigrants through the daily border deaths, divided families, and decadelong waits for legal residency and citizenship -- like the Filipino veteran of World War II who is still waiting after 20 years for the federal government to let his family join him in America, or the woman from El Salvador, still seeking asylum after 13 years, who saw her family killed and raped in front of her.

We also see the devastation wrought on families living in the shadows: isolation, low literacy levels, low wages, domestic abuse, lack of access to health care, substandard housing and poverty.

Yet these same immigrants work hard, pay taxes, fill needed jobs and help create jobs. During the 1990s, half of all new workers were foreign-born, filling gaps left by native-born workers in both the high- and low-skill ends of the spectrum. Immigrants fill jobs in key sectors, start their own businesses and contribute to a thriving economy.

As Alan Greenspan pointed out, 70 percent of immigrants arrive in prime working age. That means we haven't spent a penny on their education, yet they are transplanted into our workforce and will contribute $500 billion toward our Social Security system over the next 20 years.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Program Helps Older Immigrants

Cal State students teach immigrants over the age of 50 English and help them learn what they need to pass the citizenship test. DP

Students in Project SHINE provide ESL support to the elderly
By Marina Zarate Cal State Fullerton students are helping elderly immigrants who seek to learn English and who want to become U.S. citizens through a program called Project SHINE.

The project is a national service-learning program in which students serve as tutors and coaches to legally immigrated noncitizens over the age of 50.

Thomas Oh, the CSUF coordinator for Project SHINE, operates through the Office of Internships and Service Learning.

"We match students with host instructors who would like help throughout the community," Oh said. "We focus on people over the age of 50 because they have different learning needs, such as loss of hearing or difficulty with remembering. However, we don't limit help to older immigrants - we help anyone in need."

Project SHINE, which stands for Students Helping In the Naturalization of Elders, began in 1997 and consists of 18 groups across the country.

The program originated out of Temple University's Center for Intergenerational Learning.

The Orange County group includes the North Orange County Community College District and CSUF. CSUF is the only major Orange County university to take part in the endeavor.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Immigration Reform: Some signs it is getting closer

by Donna Poisl

There are several encouraging signs lately that there might be a solution soon to the illegal immigrant problem. At least, I am seeing news of groups, counties and states making proposals and passing legislation that show they are facing facts and are looking for something that will work.

I realize this doesn’t mean Congress is facing facts, but if enough other groups work at it, maybe they will do something too.

Many of our citizens are finally realizing that it truly would be impossible to deport millions of people. They also admit that these workers are needed to keep our economy going.

Many surveys lately are showing that a majority of our citizens are willing to allow all the undocumented people, after going through background checks, to stay and apply for some type of work visa and pay back taxes. Everyone insists they learn English. Most want them to get on the path to citizenship if they qualify.

The Texas Association of Business has formed a group to lobby Congress. They know the wall being proposed by some will be too expensive and will not work. They are asking for a bill that will give legal status to the law abiding workers who are already here and allow more legal workers into the country as they are needed.

El Paso County Commissioners Court passed a resolution calling for legal status for undocumented, law abiding immigrants. It calls for reform that doesn’t violate human rights and treats everyone with dignity and respect.

Catholic bishops are asking for humane treatment for all the undocumented people here. And most churches across the country are helping the immigrants in many different ways. Churches are treating this as a moral issue and most are trying to stay out of politics.

Several states have allowed illegal immigrant children who have gone to their high schools, graduated and qualified at state colleges to pay in-state tuition. California is going one step farther and passed a bill to allow these students to get financial aid while in college, the same as other residents.

These are all good signs that the public is ready for a solution to this problem. I doubt that one single person is happy that people are coming into our country illegally every day, but we are all responsible for it happening.

If we helped the immigrants get here; or hired them once they were here; if we voted for the people who are allowing it to go on; if we did not vote at all; if we buy food or goods or services that these workers produce: we are responsible. We should also be responsible for fixing the problem.

We will all benefit if this problem is fixed, even if it means the majority of these people are offered work visas and eventual citizenship.

If they are given legal status, they can get actual driver licenses and auto insurance. This will help every other person who is in a vehicle or who buys auto insurance for themselves.

If they aren’t exploited by unscrupulous employers, they will be paid regular wages and pay all the taxes they are supposed to pay. Their jobs will also be safer and there will be fewer injuries and deaths. Many of them will be able to get better jobs, since some of these people are well educated and would qualify for higher positions than hotel maid or landscaper.

All these people would have to learn English. Most citizens who are against the immigrants are more enraged about them speaking their own languages all the time than they are about them being here. It’s hard to learn a new language, especially as an adult, but it would be mandatory and they would manage somehow if they want to stay. When they have work permits and legal jobs, they won’t have to work 12 hours a day (or two 8 hour jobs), and they should have more time to go to ESL classes.

Instead of being stuck in their small communities because they don’t speak English, immigrants would be better able to assimilate. A hundred years ago, everyone had to learn English, there wasn’t any help for people in their own languages. Now it is easy for these newcomers to stay in their ghettos and never speak English.

If all these immigrants stay and become legal residents and citizens, they will add to the fabric of this country, just like our ancestors did. Instead of being visitors and guests (unwelcome ones at that), they will be part of the community. Right now, they have no interest in being part of a community that they know they will have to leave soon.

They will be home owners and business owners and employers. They will discover that they should be involved in their children’s schools and their community and they will learn how important it is to vote. These people will all become Americans.

If Congress would just look at the facts and the future and be brave and do something, this problem could be solved. Our borders would be secure and no one would be hiking across the deserts to live in the shadows here.

Burmese immigrants from across U.S. celebrate new year in Frederick

An immigrant group we don't even think about, slowly assimilating and becoming Americans. The kids play basketball and have a heavy metal band. DP

By News-Post Staff Burmese immigrants descended on Frederick this weekend to celebrate the start of a new year and take a brief respite from their new lives.

They came from Florida, Georgia and Michigan. Some traveled from as far away as California while others live nearby in Virginia or Maryland.

What drew the group of between 200 and 300 people was the annual two-day New Year festival of the Chin Community of Burma, U.S.A.

The community is comprised of U.S. immigrants from the Chin state of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. They gather each September in different cities. This is the first year Frederick Burmese residents have hosted the festival, which celebrates the Chin lunar New Year, said Peter Thawnghmung, whose family started the event about 25 years ago.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Dream street

This is an interesting story about South Korean immigrants who have a thriving community in Anchorage Alaska. It is the same story as immigrants everywhere in the U.S. They work very hard to give their children a good education here, the children learn English, the parents are too busy. DP

In tightly knit Korean hub, families have begun anew

Story by JULIA O'MALLEY Hai Suk Yang begins his workdays at 2:30 a.m., filling pans with spongy balls of bread dough in the cramped kitchen of the Yummy Bakery on Fireweed Lane. His day doesn't end until long after dark, when his wife, Chan Im Yang, pulls the chain that turns off the neon "OPEN" sign in the front window.

The Yangs lived comfortably for many years in the busy city of Incheon, South Korea, where he supervised a semiconductor factory and she taught elementary school. Hai Suk studied the bakery trade, and in 2002, the family crossed the Pacific to begin a new life.

Hai Suk's boss in the semiconductor factory had said Alaska is the best place in the United States. The water and air are fresh, he told him. Small businesses could grow strong without competition. The schools are superior.

"It's more stressful for my parents but less for us" since the move here from Korea, explained their son, Min Cheol Yang, 21. "They do physical work ... Not that hard in Korea. Harder here."

The Yangs work more and make less money than they did in Korea. But here, Min Cheol and his sister, Min Young Yang, 23, can master English and pursue degrees at the University of Alaska Anchorage, where both study medical technology. That, the Yangs said, makes the long hours worth it.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Mixtecos losing their native tongue in a foreign land

This story shows how quickly immigrants lose their native languages and learn English. DP

BY LOUIS MEDINA, Californian staff writer Basilio Guzman said he has sometimes wished there were a category other than "Hispanic" to define him ethnically -- even though the 22-year-old is Mexican.

And although illiteracy, poverty and back-breaking farm work have been the norm for his family and his people for generations, the east Bakersfield resident is a trilingual high school graduate who has a steady full-time job at the Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream plant on District Boulevard in southwest Bakersfield.

Guzman owns a laptop computer, a digital video camera, and a car with a sound system, DVD player and three video screens.

His is the success story of an assimilated immigrant who had already assimilated once to the dominant culture of Mexico before coming to the United States.

Guzman is Mixteco, a member of an indigenous people from the Mexican state of Oaxaca who are traditionally subsistence farmers who speak their own language, also called Mixteco.

"It was the first language I learned," Guzman said. Then came Spanish when he started school in Mexico, and finally English when he immigrated to Bakersfield at age 8 with parents Avelino and Margarita, older sister Catalina, and younger brothers Alfredo, Luis and Javier.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Law students giving immigrants rare legal aid

These law students are donating their time to help immigrants seeking asylum in this country. The people are all facing deportation and are not entitled to legal aid. DP

By CARA ANNA, Associated Press Writer ITHACA, N.Y. -- She needed a dictionary to understand what she was reading, but when she did, Viravyne Chhim put down the case file and cried.

The words were crude. Infibulation: The sewing of skin to close off a female's genital area. Defibulation: The cutting open of those scars.

Chhim was a law student at Cornell University. Her African client was in detention in Arizona, hoping for asylum. Tying them together was a unique program that gives a small number of immigrants legal aid when they face deportation.

The Washington-based Pro Bono Appeals Project is the only one of its kind, matching immigrants at the appeals level with hundreds of volunteer lawyers. Some of its most enthusiastic members are the students at nine law schools, from Mississippi to Massachusetts, who often are working with a real client for the first time.

One of the first things students learn about an immigration case is that, unlike others detained in the United States, immigrants facing deportation are largely on their own. The government doesn't provide legal help and they don't have a right to appointed counsel.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Business leaders promote legal immigrants

Texas business leaders are supporting plans that will allow more legal immigrants. They recognize that we need these workers and will lobby Congress. DP

By PATRICK McGEE, STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER DALLAS — Saying they need the workers, Texas business leaders have banded together to support immigration reform that would bring in guest workers and more legal immigrants.

The Texas Association of Business announced Tuesday the formation of Texas Employers for Immigration Reform, a group they said will lobby Congress.

“If we think we’re going to solve this problem by putting up a wall on the Mexican border, it’s not going to work,” said Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business. “If we have enough legal immigrants to meet the needs of the employers, a lot of this problem goes away.”

Hammond spoke at The Mansion on Turtle Creek hotel. He was joined by about half-dozen other business leaders, including Bo Pilgrim, chairman of Pilgrim’s Pride, a Fortune 500 poultry company based in Texas. Others included representatives from the agriculture and hotel industries.

They were also joined by Tamar Jacoby, a senior fellow at the New York-based Manhattan Institute, who has pushed for immigrant-friendly reform.

Jacoby said she still hopes for an immigration bill before the November election and believes only about 20 percent of the public favors a tough, enforcement-only approach.

“There are some guys who say, ‘Over my dead body,’ but most people understand we need workers in America,” she said.

Hammond said employers want to obey the law and hire workers who are here legally, but he said the government has not given them an effective way to do that.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Let's Talk Food: Immigrants' recipes made lasting impression on cuisine

Labor Day is a holiday celebrating the worker. A perfect time to celebrate all the immigrants who have come here for centuries and brought their foods and recipes with them. DP

By Doris Reynolds Labor Day is the quintessential American holiday. Along with the Fourth of July it is a holiday that celebrates our freedom, our ingenuity and greatness.

Labor Day was designed to recognize the accomplishment and the contributions of those working in industry. It gives credit to the millions who have labored to make our country the most prosperous and desirable place on earth.

Peter McGuire, president and founder of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, originated the idea of a national holiday saluting the contribution of laborers. He chose the first Monday in September simply because he saw it as the most pleasant time of the year, conveniently between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving.

Most of this labor force is made up of immigrants who came to our shores seeking freedom from economic, religious and political persecution. They have contributed mightily to our culture, social and religious life. They have made a great contribution to our culinary life, bringing with them the foods and recipes of their native countries.

This melting pot of gastronomic creations has resulted in an American cuisine that is the most fascinating in the world of food. We have a bit of the whole world here.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

El Paso officials back legalization path for immigrants

Another group, this time a city, asking that immigrants be treated with dignity and respect. DP EL PASO — The El Paso County Commissioners Court passed a resolution today calling for federal immigration reform that would allow a path to legalization for illegal immigrants.

The resolution was drafted by El Paso County Attorney Jose R. Rodriguez. The four-page document calls for federal immigration reform that does not "violate the human rights of immigrants, documented or undocumented."

The nonbinding resolution, approved by a 4-to-1 vote, included a clause aimed at ensuring that state resources not be used "to support policies and initiatives that tolerate or result in racial profiling." It also called for local law enforcement to "treat all immigrants with dignity and respect."
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Catholic bishops call for humane treatment of immigrants

Catholic bishops have a proposal for Congress in the treatment of immigrants. Let's hope it gets read, the human factor seems to be missing in so many proposals. DP

Kentucky’s Roman Catholic bishops have weighed in on the national debate over illegal immigration.

By Peter Smith, The Courier-Journal Kentucky’s Roman Catholic bishops have weighed in on the national debate over illegal immigration, calling for humane treatment of immigrants and policies that would allow them to gain legal status.

“We respect the right of nations to enforce their borders and to enforce reasonable immigration laws,” said the statement to be formally released Tuesday by the Catholic Conference of Kentucky, the lobbying arm of the state’s four bishops.

“At the same time, we regard every person, illegal immigrant, legal immigrant, or citizen, with the mind of Christ: a human person worthy of dignity and respect,” the bishops said.

The statement is being released to coincide with a congressional field hearing on immigration scheduled for Tuesday in Evansville, Ind.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Hmong newcomers prepped for school

Green Bay has a summer school to help ease Hmong kids into school. Some have never been in a school before. DP

Program eases students into Green Bay district

By Kelly McBride Back-to-school time can be stressful under the best of circumstances. There are new clothes to buy, school supplies to pick up and sleep schedules to adjust.

But for a group of students in the Green Bay School District, getting ready for that all-important first day brings a different set of challenges.

They're new-to-the-U.S. Hmong students, refugees trying to build new lives with little or no knowledge of American culture or language.

While their school-aged cohorts often take it easy during the summer, many of these students are in school, taking advantage of a six-week summer program designed to ease their transition.

For many, the program at Howe Elementary School in Green Bay marks the first time they've set foot in an American classroom. For some, it's the first time they've been to school at all.

"A lot of these children had been in school in Thailand," said former Howe and current Green Bay East High School principal Ed Dorff. "They were in situations where they were 50, 60, 70 kids in a classroom. … They had almost no real experience in school. They're smart kids, but they're behind in what we hope to see kids get out of school."
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.