Sunday, April 30, 2006

Guatemala natives fear fading of culture

These Guatemalans are all young and no one is here to teach their children their heritage and culture. They will become Americans with no sense of where they came from. Very sad. DP

By MOLLY MURRAY, The News Journal

Delawareonline : GEORGETOWN -- In September, 4-year-old Alan Perez spoke only Spanish.

Eight months later, the little boy is Americanized from his Bob the Builder sweatshirt that reads "Can we fix it? Yes we can," to his baggy jeans to his English.

Gone is the reserved little boy, son of Guatemalan parents, that Beverly Evans met the day he walked into Project Village, a preschool program run by the Indian River School District. The program is designed to give young children, especially those who speak no English, the skills they need to succeed in kindergarten.

As a new generation of Guatemalans starts school, learns English, gets jobs and moves into mainstream life in Delaware, there is concern that something is lost: namely the culture of their ancestors -- oftentimes with roots back to the indigenous Mayan people of Guatemala.

Go to a Spanish language mass at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Georgetown and there is something unique about the sea of faces.

They are all young, observes Wilmington filmmaker Michael Oates.

"There are no old people," He said. "Who are the carriers of traditions? The older people."

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

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Arab American candidate says politics key to assimilation

Three million Arabs are in this country and this sounds like a terrific way for them to become more involved in their communities. DP

By Caroline Drees : BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Michigan (Reuters) - Arab Americans should become more involved in politics by running for office as part of efforts to assimilate, the only Arab American running for the U.S. Senate this year said.

Michael Bouchard, a sheriff in suburban Oakland County whose grandfather emigrated to the United States from Lebanon, is seeking the Michigan Republican nomination to run against incumbent Democrat Debbie Stabenow in the November mid-term elections.

"The Arab American community has always focused on family and entrepreneurial efforts and they need to collectively also become involved in the political process and the activity of being involved in their government," Bouchard told Reuters in an interview in Bloomfield Hills, outside Detroit, this week.

"I encourage them to join a party, regardless of the party. I encourage them to get involved in a campaign. I encourage them to think about running for office. A part of any culture assimilating is participating," he said.

Bouchard is the front-runner of three Republican candidates, and trails about 10 points behind Stabenow in recent polls. The Michigan Republican primary is in August.

The number of Arab Americans hovers around 3 million, or just over 1 percent of the U.S. population. But they have traditionally been less involved in government than other immigrant groups, although the trend has shifted, not the least since the September 11 attacks.

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

Key facts about illegal immigrants in the United States

Some interesting statistics put together by the Pew Hispanic Center. Many citizens think ALL immigrants, especially Latinos, are here illegally. DP

- Overall numbers of unauthorized immigrants: 11.5 to 12 million, of whom some 7.2 million were employed in March 2005, accounting for about 4.9 percent of the US civilian labor force.

- Unauthorized adult males living in the United States: 5.4 million

- Unauthorized adult females: 3.9 million

- Unauthorized children: 1.8 million

- Six out of 10 undocumented immigrants have been in the United States for 10 years or less.

- Four out of 10 have been in the country five years or less.

- Some 3.1 million children have been born to families in which at least one of their parents was unauthorized.

- Undocumented workers, who are found in a wide range of professions across the United States, are concentrated in a few in particular:
- 24 percent of workers in farming occupations
- 17 percent of workers in cleaning trades
- 14 percent of construction and building trades workers
- 12 percent of workers in food preparation.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Jewish Poor, Recent Immigrants in NYC and the Challenge of Community

A fascinating (and surprising) story about recent Jewish immigrants in New York City. The myth is that they are all rich and comfortable, the reality is this story of poverty. DP

by Jacob Blumenfeld

New Voices : We’re not poor, but we used to be. Back in Europe, Spain, the Middle East, Russia. Not anymore. Now we Jews live in relative comfort. Our parents and grandparents have struggled to make this place called America home. They’ve worked hard, and gained the following generations a place in the middle and upper classes. We can now relax, practice Judaism in safety, eat well, dance, go to school, get jobs, teach, own a home, and raise children all without worrying over economic issues or material needs. Those days are over. Free at last, thank America almighty, we’re free at last.

Or at least that’s how the myth goes.

Jewish poverty, in fact, is a huge problem, and it’s not going away. The myth of Jewish economic comfort does nothing to alleviate the suffering of American Jews in dire need, but rather, only helps to marginalize them further. The fact that most Jews in America who do live in poverty are recent immigrants who speak over 200 different languages and don’t necessarily share light skin privilege doesn’t help. Indeed, the intersections of race, class and language make the issue of Jewish poverty particularly difficult to untangle.

Scraping by in New York City

So who are the Jewish poor and how many are there? Let’s focus on New York City, the largest Jewish community outside of Israel. According to the January 2004 Report on Jewish Poverty commissioned by the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and the UJA-Federation of New York, approximately 311,700 Jewish households in the city are poor, which is defined as living on one-and-a-half times the income of someone at the poverty line.

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

Adult students get recognition too — in national honor society

This is a wonderful story about immigrants who are working hard to learn English and make a success of their lives here. DP

Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, Express-News Staff Writer : Michelle McAvoy never dreamed she would be destined for academic honors.

She grew up in Mexico and her schooling was sporadic. After seventh grade, there was no option in her town to continue her education.

Now, McAvoy lives in San Antonio and, after raising four children, is working to earn her GED. It's not easy. She has difficulty reading and writing in Spanish even though it's her first language. She struggles daily with spelling, vocabulary and math, but she is determined to accomplish her goal.

"I want to go to college someday," McAvoy said. "It doesn't matter how long it takes."

Friday, McAvoy and 20 of her peers were recognized for their hard work.

They became the fifth class of students from the North East Independent School District to be inducted into the National Adult Education Honor Society at a ceremony held at Windcrest United Methodist Church.

The national honor society was the brainchild of an adult education program director in South Carolina who believed there should be recognition for his adult students. It was founded 15 years ago and North East earned its charter in 2002.

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

Pettigrew: Americans all, immigrants most - a bit of reality

A very interesting opinion piece by a man who is mostly American Indian. Be sure to read the whole piece, not just the beginning that I copied here. DP

By: Gil Pettigrew / Guest columnist

Indian Country : Being largely of Amerindian heritage (Creek, Cherokee, Chickasaw, probably Choctaw; let the record show my ancestors from Celtic lands, from the ''dark continent,'' weren't so much immigrants as cargo), I find the recent uproar over illegal immigrants can be rather amusing.

Sorry to be more indigenous than thou, but America has had a problem with illegal immigrants since 1492 and the debate sometimes seems as if one group of people who don't really belong here are trying to keep out another group.

In seriousness, I understand the necessity for a secure border - should've been more secure 500 years ago, but that horse has left the barn - to exclude evildoers (terrorists, human traffickers, smugglers); I don't think we should be concerned about folks coming for construction jobs or to do gardening or to earn a living; monitoring immigration into national boundaries is the right of sovereign states. Of course, these points are obvious.

Americans have a proud tradition of welcoming the huddled masses from across the globe, who come bringing their hopes, desires for socioeconomic and political freedom, their varied cultures and enjoyable accents, enriching the United States figuratively and literally. American culture is richer for the diverse foods, clothing styles, languages and religions that immigrants continue to bring us.

And the U.S. economy needs immigrants. It's mostly a myth that immigrants take jobs from those born here. To quote journalist Tony Brown: ''immigrants do jobs Americans can't do or won't do.'' Haven't seen many Native-born Americans with career aspirations picking strawberries for 16 hours a day. Then again, if you want a neurosurgeon/computer programmer cum financial analyst, you'll need an immigrant, too.

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

Thankful for my Mexican friends

This letter to the Editor of the Orlando Sentinel makes me wish everyone could feel this way. DP

By Mary E. Smith, Orlando citizen

Orlando Sentinel : I read George Diaz's column Sunday with great sadness. You see, I have been watching the United States fall apart star by star, stripe by stripe, until every lie I was ever taught as a big-eyed child has been exposed. The Statue of Liberty has fallen from her pedestal -- her flame has been extinguished.

I am from upstate New York and moved to Orlando. I decided to learn to speak Spanish because it is a beautiful language, and I wanted to be able to converse with my neighbors and co-workers in my new home. I made many new friends here, but when I lost my job, who was there for me?

My Mexican friends.

Only too well they knew how it was to be without family, afraid of the future and without a lot of hope on some days. My new friends organized groups of immigrants and offered me dinner and a teaching job. Every Tuesday and Thursday we would meet at their house, and I would get paid $5 a person to teach English lessons.

In the process, I learned to speak Spanish fairly well, and I cannot imagine a more kind, loving and caring experience. I was touched incredibly, and know that this is the way we are all meant to share. I am still learning and hope to be fluent in Spanish in about a year.

There is more than enough room in the United States for anyone who wishes to come here. My life has been incredibly enriched by knowing people from all over the world. I apologize to all the immigrants from the bottom of my heart for the rude and insulting treatment they receive.

To the Americans, I say: Ladies and gentlemen, we have forgotten who we are. We have lost sight of the eternal, invincible, emotional essence of what it means to be human, living in a great country on the greatest planet in the solar system. We have adopted warrior mind-sets against one another, sad micro-versions of a government that exercises military might over the process of artful and compassionate negotiation.

We have beguiled ourselves into thinking that racism has disappeared because we have allowed for and encouraged the growth of socially and economically self-sufficient ethnic groups, only sharing goods and services in the context of their own self-contained and separate ethnic identities. Where is the heart in that kind of sharing?

It is no better than "You stay on your side of the fence and I will stay on mine." It is a barter, a trade based on a deep-rooted guilt of the white majority. We ignore the great crimes committed in the building of our country, pasting entitlement programs like soggy Band-Aids over the still-seeping wounds of slavery, genocide of the Native American people, and continued racism toward other ethnic groups seeking a new life here.

To Americans who are so afraid to share: Why don't you just one time have dinner with somebody from "the other side of the fence"? Then, you will see that we don't really need fences.

To the immigrants, one more thing: Thank you for bringing the light, the fire back to the torch.

Lady Liberty needs a makeover.

Let's do it together.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Non-Hispanics Part of Immigration Debate

All immigrants are affected by the current debate about illegal immigration and reform. 78% are from Latin America, the other 22% are from all parts of the world, the majority from Asia. DP

By PETER PRENGAMAN, The Associated Press : As a Pakistani, Hamid Khan stood out among the Hispanics he marched alongside at a recent immigration law protest. When he told one demonstrator where he was from, the man responded: "'Then what are you doing here?'"

Khan was surprised.

"I said 'Look, there are non-Latino groups who are also suffering under these laws,'" said Khan, 49, a commercial pilot and director of an advocacy group called the South Asian Network.

Hispanics, the nation's largest immigrant group, are leading the movement to demand a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants and defeat legislation that would criminalize them.

Khan's experience provides a glimpse into the ambiguous role non-Hispanic immigrants play in a public debate that has yet to fully include them.

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

A wall on the border is not what we need

By Donna Poisl

Building a wall on our southern border is what many people want to do to solve the illegal immigration problem. There are so many reasons that make this a bad idea, I hardly know where to begin.

First, it would cost at least $2.2 billion. There are smarter, more efficient things to do with that money that would improve our country more than a wall would, especially since it would destroy parts of the deserts.

Second, it would take years to build, and during that time, many more people (perhaps millions) will be crossing into the country illegally.

Third, who would build the wall? Our unemployment rate is now below five percent and that is with almost 10 million undocumented workers. Will it take more undocumented workers to build the wall? Or if legal workers build the wall, will more illegal workers be needed to replace them in the factories and other jobs they left?

Fourth, what about the millions of undocumented people already here? And the longer we talk about the problem, the more people cross the border illegally. Now that amnesty is looking like a real possibililty, many more are taking the chance of surviving a hike through the desert to be living here if and when it happens.

Our elected representatives are looking for a solution and compromise, but they may keep tossing it back and forth until after the fall elections. Every day without a decision only makes the situation worse.

If we were to change and loosen our immigration laws immediately, people in other countries would be much more inclined to wait a year or two and come in legally. Now, they have to wait many years and often never work their way to the top of the list, so they give up and pay huge fees to be smuggled in. Instead of paying the smugglers and not knowing if they will be cheated or successful, they could pay a similar or smaller amount to immigration authorities and know they would be safe.

Low skilled workers in this country are hurt most by the competition from these undocumented workers. The illegal workers will work for less money than Americans and are being exploited and mistreated. If all these workers had work visas, wages and prices may go up but the competition would be more fair and the exploitation would stop. More of our low skilled citizens could get those jobs if they want them.

Many of the undocumented workers here now are actually well educated in their own countries and could be in much better jobs here. We are short of teachers and nurses and several other professions and some of the people working in landscaping and restaurants might be qualified to do those jobs. If they could come out of the shadows and apply for better positions it might solve more than one problem.

All the people who are here now should be allowed to stay, at least temporarily, by registering with the government. Criminal background checks would be done and the ones who do not pass that test would be deported. If they are law abiding, they would get work visas and be on a track to citizenship if they want. Back taxes, if any are owing, would have to be paid.

If some people are allowed to stay and others are told to leave now and others are told to register and leave later, it won’t work. The only ones who would register are the ones who could stay. There will still be an underground, illegal, exploited work force, albeit smaller than now.

Part of that $2.2 billion should be spent to register and investigate all these people, then some should be used to pay for more English classes for them. Once these immigrants learn enough English to function in this English speaking country they will be able to get better jobs, start businesses of their own, get more education, participate in their children’s schools and better themselves in all ways. Many of them will be able to get better paying jobs simply because they would be bilingual.

The immigrants here now don’t have many ESL classes to choose from in many areas of the country. They usually work so many hours that they aren’t able to go to the few classes that are available. If some money were given to companies to help them set up ESL classes at the work places, many more people could study on their lunch hours or breaks.

Some high schools in Charlotte, NC are partnering their Spanish language students with young Hispanic students who are learning English and all are benefiting. High school or college students learning a language could tutor adults who speak that language and are learning English. Some government money could be spent to set up more of these programs.

The most important thing for immigrants to do is learn the language of the country they are living in. Most citizens here are not objecting so much to the people actually being here, but they are objecting to the fact that they are not trying to be Americans. They have to try to assimilate. The first step is to learn English and the laws. It is easy for Spanish speaking immigrants here to get by with very little knowledge of English. But if they want to be accepted by Americans and have better jobs and have their children get better educations, they have to learn English.

There are many things that could be done with the $2.2 billion that would be better than putting up a wall. Updating our immigration system and teaching immigrants how to become Americans would be a great start.

Legalizing Immigrants Could Cut Flow Of Money Back To Mexico

Maybe this would force the Mexican government to do more to improve their economy. DP

Channel 10, KWTX : A proposal in the U-S Congress to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants in the U.s. could hurt Mexico's economy.

So say some Mexican economists, who say the legislation could slash the amount of money the immigrants send home to Mexico.

They argue that Mexicans with permission to work in the United States will want to bring their families north to live with them.

That would eliminate the main reason they send money home.

That would hurt Mexican businesses that have come to depend on the money sent down from the United States.

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

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Immigrants have strong voice in government

Many first and second generation immigrants are in this government, let's hope they can speak for immigrants in the public and work on a good, fair immigration plan. DP

By TOM RAUM, ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER : America is a land of immigrants, and official Washington mirrors their struggles and successes.

While the halls of Congress echo with a political battle over immigration laws, the sons, daughters and grandchildren of immigrants sit around the Cabinet table with President Bush - Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.

Mel Martinez, who escaped from Cuba without his family when he was 15, was Bush's first housing secretary and now represents Florida in the U.S. Senate.

Other members of first and second generation immigrant families serve throughout the administration - and in Congress, where some with direct immigrant ties like Martinez have played vocal roles in the debate.

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

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Immigration raises economic debate

An interesting story about companies that try to get citizen workers and can't. Lots of good info in this story, both for and against the theory that we need more workers and soon. DP

Lower wages or higher prices?
By SUDEEP REDDY / The Dallas Morning News

The Dallas Morning News : Offering pay that tops $10 an hour with health insurance and a pension plan, Linda Amodeo posts banners, runs ads in the papers and pitches people on the streets of Dallas to join her company.

She doesn't have much luck. That's why she wants Congress to act so she can hire guest workers from abroad.
"I exhaust myself first, trust me," said Ms. Amodeo, vice president of City Wide Building Services Inc., a small window-cleaning firm. "I go through the Texas Workforce Commission and try everything to get employees."

The nation's fiery battle over illegal immigration and guest worker proposals has drawn out businesses of all sizes with a simple message: We need more workers.

Much of the U.S. debate has been driven by concerns about filling what are often called jobs that Americans won't do. Supporters of increased immigration say there simply aren't enough people to do those jobs in a workforce that's becoming older and better educated.

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

Reforms should respect immigrants' contributions

Another person who writes about how people want to emigrate to a country and close the door behind them. We don't seem to learn, we keep repeating the same things over and over. DP

Patricia Rodriguez-Nassar, GUEST COMMENTARY

Contra Costa Times : I am a naturalized citizen of the United States, and therefore an immigrant. My grandfather also was an immigrant like myself, an immigrant from Spain in Peru.

I arrived in the United States in 1969, and like everybody else, I have seen the changes happening in our country. I love the United States very much, and I believe that it truly has a great government system.

If we look at history, we know that migration and immigration are as old as time.

If it was not so, we would all still be in Africa, where we all come from.

Migration and immigration are intrinsic to the survival of humankind. I would say it is pretty much like natural selection and the subsequent evolution.

Past and present migrants and immigrants have had to travel in search of food, for political and religious reasons, familial duties or economic factors.

Migration and immigration will only cease at the end of times.

Migration and immigration bring people with different idiosyncrasies, and it is natural for the ones who arrived first not to like it.

This response to things foreign happens everywhere. For example, mixed-blood Peruvians from the big cities resent and despise "the Indians" that come from the villages in the Peruvian Andes.

The citified Peruvians do not like the ways of the pure-blood Indians, descendants of the Incas.

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

A struggle with labels and what's 'illegal'

Written by one of a group of high school students who volunteer and teach English to homeless immigrants. This story gives me hope for the young people in this country. DP

Mary McNamara is a senior at Northport High School : Each week students from Northport High School, members of an organization called Students for 60,000, visit immigrant workers at houses of worship in Huntington and a community center in Farmingdale to teach English. These young people have gotten to know men who most of us know only from news stories. Here, two of the volunteers reflect on the experience.

When people find out about the time I spend each week with homeless immigrants in our community, a question inevitably arises: "Why do you do this, when some of them are here illegally?" The implication is that I am aiding someone in the commission of a crime, which is itself illegal.

I am not one to participate in illegal activities, for they usually involve putting someone else in danger or even myself. But in my mind, there is a big difference between giving a bank robber the combination to the vault, say, and teaching English to a group of men who have come to this country without the proper legal paperwork.

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

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Immigrants seek recognition for hard work

This story shows some of the best immigrants who are here, working hard to be good citizens, even before they actually are. DP


Yakima Herald-Republic : Anjelica is a private person, but there is something she would like people to know about her.
"When I had my baby, the social worker wanted to give me some emergency money from the state. But I didn't take it. I offered to sew her something for it instead. I wanted to work for it," the young Hispanic mother said in a recent interview through an interpreter.

Anjelica crossed the Sonoran desert from Mexico into Arizona six years ago, walking for hours in the cold before meeting up with her husband, who brought her to Yakima. She asked to be identified only by her first name.

Her husband works in a fruit warehouse for $9 an hour and is a legal resident; she is not. Not yet. But she is working on it with the kind of proud, chin-up determination that has characterized this nation of immigrants since the early 1800s. She takes sewing jobs, has earned her high school equivalence degree and is studying English.

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

How immigrants might actually boost wages

A very interesting study, going against the fears of many people. It also has some links with interesting related coverage. DP

Influx of foreign workers leads to increased investment, study finds

By Martin Wolk, Chief economics correspondent, MSNBC

MSNBC : In the debate raging on Capitol Hill over how to reform the nation’s immigration laws, one assumption never far from the surface is that foreign-born workers are taking jobs from native-born Americans and driving down wages.

“What is wrong about thinking about justice for the guy whose wages are being depressed because of the millions of people who are coming in here and willing to take the job for even a lower price?” Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., asked in a Fox News interview recently. Tancredo, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, favors building a 700-mile security fence along the Mexican border and strongly opposes any “amnesty” for undocumented aliens, including the path to citizenship contemplated by a bill that stalled Friday in the Senate.

Many economists agree that undocumented aliens reduce wages for the least skilled native-born workers, but most also say immigration benefits the economy overall by lowering prices for consumers in a sort of Wal-Mart effect. One intriguing study even suggests that the huge influx of immigrants since 1980 has boosted the average wage of U.S.-born workers by about 2 percent, partly by spurring additional capital investment.

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

Cost to Remove 12M Illegal Immigrants Huge

I hope people who write me to tell me it is cheap and easy to "round them up and send them home" will read this and believe it. DP

By MARTHA MENDOZA, AP National Writer : As Congress debates immigration reforms, some experts say the most extreme proposal _ deporting millions of illegal immigrants _ would be a huge legal and logistical morass, and ruinously expensive, too.

Officials at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which would be responsible for deportations, said they have no projections on what it would take to rid the United States of an estimated 12 million people.

But the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank in Washington, has put the cost at $215 billion over five years.

The study assumed that a crackdown would prompt a quarter of the nation's illegal immigrants to leave voluntarily, leaving 9 million men, women and children to deport.

"I think a lot of people are making emotional calls on this issue without thinking through the cost to taxpayers," said study author Rajeev Goyle, a lecturer at Wichita State University. "It would be an unbearable cost that would bankrupt the treasury. It would cost more annually than the entire budget of the Department of Homeland Security, twice that of the annual cost of the war in Iraq."

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

Poll: Immigrants Say Reform Debate Muddied by Racism and Congress' Bad Job

A recent poll of legal immigrants shows that they believe anti-immigrant sentiment is growing. Many people don't seem to like any immigrants, and legal immigrants see it as racism against Latinos and Asians. DP

By Tyler Lewis Legal immigrants in the U.S. have heard the debate raging around immigration reform in Congress - and they don't like it.

Sixty-seven percent of U.S. legal immigrants believe that an anti-immigrant sentiment is growing in the United States, according to a new multilingual poll released last week. A majority of the respondents believe this sentiment stems from racism toward Latinos and Asian Americans.

"This poll is significant because it takes the temperature of those closest to the current immigration debate," said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), a co-sponsor of the poll, in a statement. "The survey results are striking and reinforce the call for responsible immigration reform worthy of a nation built by immigrants."

The poll was conducted by Bendixen & Associates, for New America Media, a nationwide association of more than 700 ethnic media outlets, the Center for American Progress, and LCCR's sister organization, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund.

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

2 more blogs to look at

Check out these other blogs dealing with immigration.

This one has information showing all sides of the debate, New America.

And this one has a terrific opinion piece on why we should support immigration, that lawyer dude.

Jewish Community Advocating For Immigrants

The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society has written Washington supporting just and compassionate immigration reform. Even though the current debate doesn't affect the Jewish community very much, they are concerned about the rising bad feelings about all foreigners and that does affect them. DP

By James D. Besser - Washington Correspondent

The Jewish Week : The Jewish community has a new point person in what is shaping up to be the most explosive political issue of the year.

Gideon Aronoff, the incoming president and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, is taking over the 125-year-old immigrant rights group as the debate over differing House and Senate immigration reform bills is turning into a major flashpoint for this year’s congressional midterm elections and the 2008 presidential race.

The debate has touched off a political storm from right-wing activists, many of whom have broken with President George W. Bush by supporting a harsh House-passed bill that would criminalize illegal immigration — but it has also sparked demonstrations across the country demanding a less punitive approach.

Aronoff, a veteran of the Soviet Jewry and the immigrant rights movements who until recently served as the Jewish group’s Washington director, said Jewish interests in the intensifying fight are clear, despite the fact that Jewish immigrants and refugees, who come into this country legally in relatively small numbers, are not a factor.

“Some have argued that because of that, we should just sit on the sidelines,” he said. “But I argue that we have a series of community interests that mandate that we be part of the struggle to find a just and sensible result.”

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

Giuliani wants to 'regularize' immigrants to improve safety

Another voice saying we should make the immigrants "legal" and it will help all of us and our national security. DP

BY FRAN SPIELMAN, City Hall Reporter

Chicago Sun Times: Turning 11 million illegal immigrants into criminals is not the way to secure the nation's borders or prevent another terrorist attack, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani said Tuesday.

The way to do that is to "regularize," document, photograph and fingerprint immigrants to drive what Giuliani called "this vast underground" above ground.

Giuliani was the keynote speaker at the second annual Richard J. Daley Urban Forum at the University of Illinois at Chicago. With a theme of "Globalizing Cities: Chicago and the World," the forum drew mayors from Miami; Toronto; Mobile, Ala.; Durban, South Africa, and Galway, Ireland.

"The president is right to support a guest-workers program," Giuliani said. "If we recognize it, document it, photograph it and know who and what it is, then we can concentrate our attention on the people who aren't coming in to be guest workers but are coming in to bomb us, or coming in to sell heroin or cocaine or to launder money.

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

Thursday, April 06, 2006

What to do about the illegal immigrants? We can’t make them leave.

By Donna Poisl

All the articles and opinion pieces by famous and not so famous writers show that most of them are as conflicted as I am. None have solved the problem of what should be done about all the illegal aliens here.

Yes, all these millions of people are here illegally — we all agree on that point. But what should be done now is the confusing part.

We can't entirely blame the immigrants for breaking the law and coming here. The people who left the doors open and then gave them jobs are the ones to blame. We have encouraged them to come, we have let them in, we have given them reason to stay and now we are responsible for the problem.

I remember back “in the old days” when no one locked their houses or cars and we even left the keys in the ignitions. Then little by little we had to change those habits and protect our property. Insurance companies started holding owners responsible if it was proved that the thieves didn't break in when they took or vandalized our property.

We have to do more to protect our borders. But the immigrants who are here illegally and have been working hard to make a life for themselves and their families can't be forced to leave now.

We have to find a way to discover who they are, where they are and what they are doing. We have to find a way to let them work here legally and eventually become citizens if they want to and if they qualify. They must learn English, obey the laws, learn about the constitution and our history and become Americans. That doesn't mean they should deny their heritage or ignore their own customs or forget their language. My grandparents came from Ireland and became Americans but never forgot that they were Irish. I truly don’t know if they came in legally, it wasn’t such a big deal back then.

I wrote recently that it would be impossible to find all of the illegal immigrants and deport them. Then I got emails from people telling me it would be very easy, “just go to the corner or Home Depot and arrest them, put them on a bus and send them home.”

They don't consider how many thousands of personnel it would take to go to all those corners and arrest a dozen at a time or how many dozens there are in a million. They don't consider how many days would pass before those workers moved to different corners, nor do they think about where we would put the people we arrested. They don't consider the cost to find out if they are here legally, where they came from, where they should be sent or the cost to send them there.

Our representatives in Washington are debating the issue and they have to find a good compromise. We have to allow these people to continue to live here if they are employed and law abiding. At the same time, we can’t allow more to keep coming without visas. How can both things be done at once?

If we don’t protect the borders better, and just allow the ones who are here to remain, more will come every day and expect the same. One suggestion is to issue a green card to the people who have been here at least five years and make the more recent ones apply from their home land.

That sounds fair at first thought, but I doubt the recent ones will leave their jobs and in many instances young families, to travel back to their home country and apply for a work visa. What will happen to all those companies if their workers suddenly leave and go home for a few weeks or months? It sounds like that won’t work either.

This country has a quota system for immigration and a very long time for people to wait when they apply legally. This country also has many jobs in construction, land scaping, farm work, office and house cleaning, and food preparation and many factories that need these workers.

The time has come that legal immigration has to be made easier and faster. Baby Boomers are aging out of the work force and we need young workers to keep the country running and producing. The more people we allow to come in legally, the more we all benefit.

Now back to the problem of what to do with 12 million people who are already here illegally. We have to allow them to stay. We have to encourage them to move out of the shadows. We have to allow and encourage them to get on a track to become citizens if they want to stay here. The others should be able to work here on work visas and go home when they want to.

George Washington stated the classic American policy on immigration in 1783. He said that our borders were open, not just for the wealthy and educated, but also for the “oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions.” The poem on the Statue of Liberty says “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This country was founded on the principles of tolerance and equality and we must treat these immigrants with respect and dignity. We want the rest of the world to think of us as a moral champion of human rights and yet some want to treat millions of our own inhabitants like criminals. These people are living and working here and contributing to our economy and yet have to live in constant fear of being exploited and deported.

This is not the American Way.

U.S. Spending $56M to Fly Immigrants Home

This seems a very silly use of 56 million dollars, with more planned for next year. Some of these people left their country years ago as teens and don't have places to go. DP

Flying Migrants Home an Expensive, Growing Part of Immigration Dilemma

ABC News: SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP)— U.S. marshals unlock the prisoners' leg shackles, body chains and handcuffs when green jungle and turquoise sea come into close view.

As the U.S. government's MD-83 airliner bumps to the ground at the small San Salvador airport, the 44 men and five women being deported home to El Salvador cheer. One man belts out a few bars of a Tom Petty song: "I'm free-ee…."

For a growing number of migrants picked up in the United States for immigration violations or criminal offenses, this is the way their American experience ends: a free flight home.

As Congress debates how to overhaul the nation's immigration system, the U.S. government is spending about $56 million to fly illegal immigrants home or to new locations within the U.S.

Last year, the government flew 60,000 people mostly Central and South Americans to their home countries for about $600 per person. An additional 35,000 were moved inside the U.S., mostly to be closer to the Mexican border in preparation for deportation.

Officials want to double the deportations in the next year as the U.S. ends its practice of freeing some illegal immigrants until they can be returned to their native countries.

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

NAACP, Barack Obama Call for Earned Citizenship for Illegal Immigrants

The NAACP is getting involved in the discussions. They are calling for immigration reform and allowing the people who are here to stay. DP

By: Michael H. Cottman : The NAACP is calling on Congress to enact sweeping immigration reform that does not include enforcing a mass deportation campaign and a provision to build a 700-mile security fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Our nation's immigration policy must be consistent with humanitarian values and with the need to treat all individuals with respect and dignity," Bruce Gordon, president of the NAACP, said in a statement.

"We must move away from the politics of ostracizing immigrants and instead look at the demographic shifts and needs of our nation in a larger context," Gordon said.

A U.S. House bill passed in December -- which has drawn fierce opposition from Latino groups -- would make illegal immigration a felony, impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants, require churches to check the legal status of parishioners before helping them and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border.

Last month, more than 500,000 people gathered in downtown Los Angeles to protest the House legislation and tens of thousands rallied in Phoenix and Milwaukee. In Detroit, protesters waving Mexican flags marched from the southwest side of the city where many Hispanics live.

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

Immigrants attracted by jobs

This story shows how immigrants and refugees from all over the world come here and move to places where they can find jobs. Their biggest dream is to provide freedom and education for their children. DP

Hispanic, African populations grow rapidly, census shows

By Kelly Soderlund and Angela Mapes, The Journal Gazette

The Journal Gazette: Tony Aduro immigrated to the United States from Nigeria in 1999 hoping to live in a country where he could express his opinions without fearing persecution from his government. Aduro’s dreams mirror the ones that thousands of immigrants from across the world had before they moved to Fort Wayne looking for freedom and prosperity.

“I just wanted to be able to stay in a country where I would be able to express myself and my opinion,” said Aduro, who is the executive director of the African Immigrants Social and Economic Development Agency, which helps Africans find jobs and introduces them into the community.

“I wanted to stay in a place where I would be able to express myself freely, where I would be able to give my children the independence they want where they would grow up knowing democracy and independence is good.”

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

Monday, April 03, 2006

The invisible illegal immigrants

Many Americans think all the immigrants who are here illegally are Latino. Asians are the second largest group and struggle just as much as the Latinos do. You can read the amount of money they have to spend to get smuggled here and the problems most of them have once they get here. DP

By Xiao-huang Yin, professor and chair of the American Studies Program at Occidental College

Los Angeles Times : All the media attention on immigration has missed a critical part of the issue — Asians. Although the majority of illegal immigrants in this country come from Mexico, U.S. and Chinese scholars estimate that more than 500,000 Chinese have been smuggled into the United States since the late 1980s, making them the second-largest undocumented immigrant group.

Most of the illegal Chinese immgrants came from Fujian province in southeast China. They were nicknamed "18K travelers" because they typically paid $18,000 each to smuggling kingpins — called "snakeheads" in Chinese — to get into this country.

That cost has jumped to $70,000, which has forced many families into debt to pay for the trip. Half the fee is given to snakeheads as a down payment; the remainder is collected by smuggling networks when the immigrant "safely" arrives in the U.S. Newcomers often hold several jobs and work 80 hours a week to pay off their debts.

Illegal Chinese emigration to the U.S. reflects a conflict between the central government and local authorities in China. Beijing may well be embarrassed by the illegal exodus, but local officials often consider it a business opportunity because people-smuggling is a source of revenue. Some of these officials also benefit from the illegal outflow because it reduces the labor surplus in their regions. This may explain why the trade continues to flourish in China despite many high-profile trials of snakeheads.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Immigrants tell panel of poor working conditions

If these people had legal status, they would be able to be treated humanely. Without status, they have no way to complain or stand up for themselves. DP

By ANABELLE GARAY, Associated Press

Star Telegram : DALLAS - Esperanza Fernandez remembers staying quiet while her former supervisor cursed at her and threw a pencil and other supplies at a co-worker in the window-making plant.

"All he lacked was a whip so he could whip us," she said.

Yet when Fernandez mustered the courage to file a grievance, other employees didn't join her.

Most were illegal workers who desperately wanted to keep their jobs, even if it meant putting up with a rogue boss, said Fernandez, a legal resident.

Fernandez was one of a half-dozen workers who told their stories Saturday to a panel organized by North Texas Jobs with Justice, a coalition affiliated with the AFL-CIO that includes unions, churches and civil rights organizations. The group is studying the working conditions of immigrants as Congress debates a guest-worker program and other immigration policies.

Some spoke about taking jobs that were below their educational level and being paid less than co-workers because they were in the country illegally. Many illegal immigrants have payroll and Social Security taxes withdrawn from their paychecks but can't get the money when they retire, workers and union leaders said.

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

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Parents gain the skills to teach their toddlers

These folks are helping immigrant parents at the same time as they help the pre-schoolers. This way the kids will do much better in school. DP

By Susan Snyder, Inquirer Staff Writer

Philadelphia Inquirer : Myrna Ayala arrives at the address of her next client: A homeless shelter, deep in North Philadelphia.

"Hola," Ayala says to Cynthia Roman, 22, as she enters a small sitting room. Roman is on a couch, her 6-week-old son, Xavier Santos Vargas, by her side in a rocking seat. Her 17-month-old daughter, Diamond Beltram-Lex, is scampering about the room in Dora the Explorer slippers.

Roman gets the book Ayala brought to her daughter during last week's visit and Ayala begins paging through it with Diamond, as Roman looks on.

"The riders on the bus go bumpety, bumpety, bump," Ayala sings, gently pulling Diamond's arm to show the motion.

School is in session.

Not just for Diamond.

But for her mom, as well.

The Philadelphia School District launched a new home-based program in January to educate low-income parents - whose children likely would get no preschool experience otherwise - on how best to help their toddlers learn the early essentials that will make them successful in school.

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