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

SILive.com: 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


Forbes.com: 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

OnlineAthens.com: 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.

LATimes.com: 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


CONTRACOSTATIMES.com: 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

CSMonitor.com: 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

NashvilleCityPaper.com: 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

NorwichBulletin.com: 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

TimesHerald.com: 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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