Monday, August 28, 2006

Immigration Reform: When will it happen? Will it happen?

by Donna Poisl

Immigration reform and illegal immigrants have lost the top spots in the news in the past month or more. There is almost no chance of it being taken care of in Congress this year. Wars in the middle east and 10 year old murder cases are all anyone is talking about now.

That may be good news for business owners who need these workers and for the workers who, for the time being at least, are out of the spotlight. But it doesn't mean it isn't still an extremely important problem. There are several different proposals on the board now and none of them are complete solutions.

Building a wall on part of the border with Mexico is too expensive, would destroy the land it goes through and probably would not keep people out anyway. The additional guards on the Arizona border now are keeping some out and are forcing more crossings into California.

Finding and deporting all 12 million people here illegally would be impossible, regardless of what the extremists say. It simply can’t be done.

Even if it could be done, how would businesses that employ these undocumented workers continue producing? Farms now have trouble finding enough workers to harvest the crops; without these undocumented workers available they would go out of business. Builders, factories and food processors would close down if their workers were suddenly removed.

The people who say we should stop all immigration don’t say how we would manage here without more people to replace our aging workers and low birthrate. Our unemployment rate now is less than 5%, most of the people who want to work are working. We don’t have enough young workers to fill all the low income and unskilled jobs that are keeping this ecomony going. Most of our young people want easier jobs and higher pay and aren’t interested in picking vegetables, cutting lawns or cleaning hotel rooms.

One proposal recommends that undocumented people who can prove they have been here more than five years can stay and apply for permanent residency. They can get on the path to citizenship if they follow certain rules and pay some fines, and back taxes if they owe any. Of course, they would have to learn English too.

The same proposal says that illegal immigrants who have been here two to five years should return to their homeland and come back in legally, but how many (or how few) would leave? These immigrants would have to leave family and jobs here and possibly not get back in.

This same bill says those here less than two years just have to leave and not come back. Many of those people would simply go farther underground and be exploited and mistreated more than they are now.

A compromise that has been suggested is to have all illegal immigrants go to certain border locations and apply for a six-year guest worker visa. After the six years are over, they would have to leave or start proceedings for citizenship. This one might work and hopefully by that time, the huge backlog in immigration cases would be taken care of and all these new cases could be worked on.

There were virtually no immigration laws here until 1891 when the Office of Immigration was created. Ellis Island opened in 1892 and processed more than 12 million immigrants before 1953. Certain “undesirables” were barred: convicts, prostitutes, lunatics, paupers, polygamists, the insane, those with contagious diseases, epileptics, Asians, illiterates, and children without parents. Ship captains were supposed to keep a log of immigrants entering other ports, but people who came from different directions usually just walked in.

Most people who showed up at the gates, got in. No one had to have family or a job waiting for them. Everyone who says “our grandparents came in legally, these people can do it too”, don’t realize how easy it was then.

It is time to change the immigration laws, this time making more sensible laws that people can live with. This, along with more border protection will slow the illegal immigration to a manageable number.

If we change immigration regulations so that people can legally come into this country with wait times of only a year instead of 10 or more, most people would do it legally. If the fees were only a few thousand dollars, most would pay that instead of paying smugglers and be cheated or die.

Many citizens are against amnesty and we all wish it had never gotten to this point, but I don’t see how the immigrants who are here illegally can be sent away. They should be allowed to stay and register and go through the criminal checks and approval process. Those who qualify should be put on the path to become permanent residents and citizens. These people will be the business owners, homeowners and voters of tomorrow.

If we make some changes and keep enforcing the “new” rules, we won’t find ourselves in a similar or worse mess 10 or 20 years from now.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

'Mom, I'm a nino!': Georgia's first bilingual public school opens

These kids will be fluent in 2 languages by Grade 5 and possibly learn even more languages later. And better able to function in this small world we all live in now.
The Associated Press - FOREST PARK, Ga. On his first day of school, 5-year-old Al-Khafid Sharrieff Muhammad came home to tell his mom he didn't understand what anyone was saying in class. Just as she was second-guessing sending her child to Georgia's first dual language public school, he grinned and started rattling off all the Spanish words he learned.

"Do you know what a nino is? It's me," Rashida Muhammad recalled Al-Khafid as saying.

While the country is divided over the role of immigrants and the importance of a national language, some English- and Spanish-speaking parents in this Atlanta suburb are bypassing the debate by sending their children to Georgia's first bilingual public school, where the goal is to have all students literate in both languages by fifth grade.

Their motivations are as diverse as the little kids excitedly chatting with one another in Unidos Dual Language Charter School's one-story building in a residential neighborhood near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

There are Hispanic immigrants who are worried their U.S.-born children will not know Spanish, and Americans who want to give their children a competitive edge, all spurring an increase in bilingual education across the country.

"I hope people start looking at a diversity of languages as a must, and stop looking at America as a one-language country," said Pedro Ruiz, president of the Washington-based National Association for Bilingual Education.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

International Edmonds

Edmonds WA is using federal grant money to showcase a section of town that is full of immigrant owned businesses. This will help the businesses and the whole region. DP

Immigrants hope Snohomish County's first International District will show what they add to America

By Krista J. Kapralos and Bill Sheets, Herald Writers There is more Korean than English on signs in the strip malls along a stretch of Highway 99.

News racks are stocked with Korean-language newspapers. Schools teach from Chinese-language children's books.

A Japanese man hawks a water filter developed in Osaka. "The water is clean," said Katsuya Fukuhara. "You won't get sick."

A Vietnamese woman offers beauty supplies for Asian-owned nail salons far and wide.

"My clients drive all the way from Renton and even Tacoma," Thuy Le said. "They like it up here."

A wave of immigrants have brought their cultures with them.

Edmonds has taken notice.

The city is using a federal grant to designate a mile-long stretch of the highway as an International District, the first in Snohomish County.

The money will be spent directing shoppers and tourists to the stretch of highway between 238th Street SW and 224th Street SW. The idea is to help businesses extract more sales tax dollars from the neighborhood.

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

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

More Bay Area immigrants seeing value of citizenship

43% of the immigrants in the Bay Area have become citizens. They want to be able to use all their rights, such as voting. DP

Region sees sharpest rise in naturalized foreign-born citizens
By Ryan Sholin, STAFF WRITER In 1999, the government of Vietnam finally let Tuan Nguyen leave his homeland. When he arrived in the Bay Area, where his wife and son had been living without him for seven years, he wanted to file for citizenship as soon as he could.

"Becoming a citizen is like becoming a family member," Nguyen said. "It's more secure than if you are a guest."
According to U.S. census data released today, the number of naturalized foreign-born citizens in California increased by 4 percent between 2000 and 2005. Now, 43 percent of immigrants count themselves as citizens, up from
39 percent in 2000.

The Bay Area outpaced the statewide increases, led by an 8 percent jump in Santa Clara County and a 7 percent rise in Alameda County. The 2005 census data does not include some group housing situations, such as jails, institutions and military barracks. Experts said the increase could be largely attributed to changes in U.S. immigration policy that have made legal permanent residents eager to become citizens with a full slate of rights.

"I've done more naturalization cases in the last year than the prior 10 years of practicing," said Randall Caudle, a San Francisco immigration lawyer. "People are scared of what could be coming out of Congress."

Caudle, a former president of the Santa Clara Valley chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said legal permanent residents are feeling vulnerable as towns across the country penalize employers and workers for their relationships with illegal immigrants.

"They're tired of hearing anti-immigration rhetoric from a lot of these politicians," he said.
Harry Pachon, president of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute at the University of Southern California, said immigrants think of citizenship as a "self-defense document."

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

1986 amnesty meant new lives for many immigrants

This shows how amnesty in 1986 worked and how it would work again. These people are definitely to the U.S. economy. DP

Louie Gilot / El Paso Times Berthy Corral would not have her own business if it wasn't for the green card she got during the 1986 amnesty. Luis Elias Cruz would not be going to college if it wasn't for the amnesty that made his father legal.

Politicians are currently clashing over the wisdom of having another legalization program under an immigration reform bill.

According to studies by the Pew Hispanic Center, between 3 million and 5 million undocumented immigrants were in the United States when the amnesty was enacted. An estimated 8 million to 12 million live here now.

The 1986 amnesty clearly did not stop the flow of undocumented immigrants into the United States. But on a personal level, the 1986 amnesty changed lives.

Berthy Corral is a media consultant for Time Warner Communications and runs Ad Souvenirs and More, a promotional and embroidery business, out of her home.

Back in 1988, when she applied for the amnesty, she was a 21-year-old undocumented immigrant from Chihuahua City who had crossed the border "in a little boat" to follow her then-husband.

Back then she didn't work, let alone have her own business.
The amnesty "was a big deal," said Corral, who is now a U.S. citizen. "I wanted to go to college, have a nice job."

Couldn't she have been just as successful in Mexico?

"I have a sister who is a chemical engineer in Mexico who makes a third of what I make. That's who I can compare to. I know she has to struggle to raise her children," Corral said.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Hispanic women facing 3 obstacles

The three barriers are that they are women, they are not white and they don't have English as their first language. This discrimination has to end. DP

By JONNA HUSEMAN, Telegram Staff Writer COLUMBUS - When Juana Hanson moved to Columbus from Chicago 14 years ago, she was one of few Latina women in the community.

Now, Hispanic people, or Spanish speakers, make up more than 6 percent of Columbus's population, according to the 2004 Columbus Collaborative Team Community Needs Assessment.

As the Hispanic community continues to grow and flourish, many, including Hanson, a bilingual advocate for the Center for Survivors, believe Columbus could do more to keep up with the demands of Spanish speakers.

“The number one thing is the language barrier,” Hanson said. “Everywhere you go, you see the Latino population, but to find a good interpreter is really hard.”

According to the same CCT Assessment, the community believes that “communication with or for Non-English speakers” is a problem, ranking it 2.68 out of 4.0 in terms of seriousness.

However, when asked to evaluate how well local services met the needs of persons in the community, the same issue (communication with or for Non-English speakers) was ranked as “adequate.”
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Schools teach foreign languages earlier

Before long, these little kids will be fluent in two languages and later on, will probably learn at least one more. Just think about the opportunities they will have! DP

Youngest brains have greatest aptitude, educators say
By Maria Glod, the Washington Post School systems across the Washington area are adding foreign language classes in elementary grades in response to a call from government and business leaders who say the country needs more bilingual speakers to stay competitive and even to fight terrorism.

Educators say that the youngest brains have the greatest aptitude for absorbing language and that someone who is bilingual at a young age will have an easier time learning a third or fourth language later on. Compared with adults or even high school students, young children are better able to learn German with near-native pronunciation or mimic the subtle tones of Mandarin.

So last week, kindergartners at Fairfax County's Graham Road Elementary School, one of seven county elementary schools that reopen early in August, sang an alphabet song, learned how to stand in line -- and started Spanish lessons.

The 30-minute lesson, taught solely in Spanish, drew perplexed looks from 5-year-old Ngan Vo, who wasn't quite sure why classmates smiled and danced when they heard " bien " and pretended to cry when the teacher said " mal ." But teacher Yazmin Galloway says that by year's end, she expects Ngan and her classmates to have a foundation in Spanish.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Immigrants aim to smooth careers by not tripping on their tongues

An accent can seriously hurt the opportunities for international professional workers in this country. Sometimes it is because they are misunderstood, other times people think when people have an accent, they are stupid. This company helps people learn an American accent. DP

BY DIONNE WALKER, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Armed with a tape recorder and endless patience, Sharon Heffley has spent the last 17 years unraveling the knot of mispronunciations and garbled syllables common to many international professionals.

Heffley operates the Accent Modification Center out of her home in northern Virginia, helping upwardly mobile professionals smooth accents that may be holding them back.

"Most of my clients do not come saying they want to assimilate so that nobody knows that they weren't born here," Heffley said during an interview. "They want to be more competitive with their American counterparts."

Dean, a 40-something computer engineer who would not give his last name, got the Heffley treatment during a recent lesson. He'd spent five minutes wrestling with a common household word and was getting nowhere.

"Bezz. Bezz. Bezzzzzz," he said.

"You must feel the tongue go up," chirped Heffley, a short, bespectacled woman with a firm nature and an unerring ear. "Do it again, 10 to 15 times!"

A dozen attempts later, success: The Chinese-American man correctly pronounced "beds."
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

A school for survival

This summer school is helping immigrant children learn English and keep up with their school work. While their parents work all day in fields and factories, this program keeps the kids busy and teaches them life and social skills, all while learning English. DP

By STEVE MARRONI, Evening Sun Reporter Fifteen-year-old Diego Rodriguez speaks mostly Spanish at home. But by necessity, he's become almost as fluent in English.

His family moved to the Gettysburg area from Mexico before he was kindergarten aged so they could work in the orchards and farms. His parents speak almost no English, and the language comes in handy at home. He helps his parents interpret bills and letters, and helps them communicate with the surrounding, English-speaking world.

Diego is one of about 200 Latino students in the Lincoln Intermediate Unit's Migrant Education Program Summer School of Excellence, now in its 40th year.

While their parents picked peaches this summer, tended to orchards and worked in factories, kindergarten through high school students from all around Adams County gathered at Bermudian Springs Elementary for not only fun, summer activities, but to continue to work on social and language skills.

Berenice Aguilar, 10, said little English is spoken at her home. Though English is a second language to her, she speaks it fairly fluently.

"I think it's easy to learn in English," she said. "Whenever you try your best, you do well."
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

African immigrants get primer on culture, laws

This workshop is teaching African immigrants American laws. It is also showing them things that they can't do here that might have been acceptable in their homelands. DP

By Lauren Ober, Free Press Staff Writer Jacob Bogre and Jean-Marie Mujakazi understand the difficulties of immigrating to the United States. Everything is different, from the way children are raised to the rules of the road.

Navigating this new country can be scary and even dangerous for those unfamiliar with American laws and cultural mores. Through the Association of Africans Living in Vermont, Bogre, the president of the organization, and Mujakazi, an outreach worker, seek to smooth the path for recent immigrants so that they can fully take advantage of what the United States has to offer.

The AALV, which serves about 1,000 relocated Africans in Vermont, hosted a community awareness workshop Saturday at City Hall to help the African refugee community become more acclimated to life, and the laws, in Vermont.

"They need to follow regulations. We want people to be aware of that," Bogre said.But before new residents can follow the regulations, they need to understand what those regulations are. During the day-long workshop, AALV presented speakers involved in child services, law enforcement, traffic safety and immigration law in hopes of providing immigrants with a solid foundation in American society.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Bush asks Congress to allow more immigrants into U.S.

We have to allow more people into this country legally, so they will have less reason to try to come illegally. I hope Congress can get a good plan in place. DP CRAWFORD, Texas -- President Bush says he's fulfilled his pledge to help beef up border security by sending National Guard troops to Southwestern states.

Now, he's challenging Congress to give him legislation that will welcome more foreigners into the country.

Speaking in his weekly radio address, Bush said immigration reform can only be successful if the get-tough border security is combined with opportunities for more immigrants to enter the country legally.

Bush wants to provide more temporary worker permits for foreigners willing to take low-wage jobs and allow illegal immigrants working in the U.S. for some time to become citizens. But Congress has been unable to agree on such legislation.

Immigrants enter college with appetite for success

This story shows how motivated the immigrant children are to succeed in college. Many people think these kids are never going to amount to anything and this disproves that theory. DP

By Mercedes Olivera, The Dallas Morning News About a year ago, Ruben Saenz noticed something different about the Hispanic freshmen entering Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch.

Many of them – the children of Mexican immigrants or immigrants themselves – "seem to value higher education more than those born here, and their grade levels are so much higher than native-born Latinos," said Mr. Saenz, head of student development at the college.

Perhaps the responsibility of succeeding is so heavy on their shoulders that they see no other option. "The worst is behind them," he said. "They have sacrificed their lives or seen their parents do it. They have an appetite for getting ahead."

It's long been known that Latinos who immigrate tend to be among the most industrious and entrepreneurial in their communities. Now they appear to be among the most academically ambitious, too.

And so it is that Mr. Saenz expects Brookhaven College to reach a major milestone next month – 25 percent of its student enrollment will be Hispanic. This will allow it to qualify for millions of new federal dollars as a Hispanic-serving institution.

It will join other colleges within the Dallas County Community College District – Mountain View with 45 percent, El Centro with 28.5 percent, and Eastfield with 26 percent – that surpassed that magic number several years ago.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.

Educators learn how to teach those just learning English

This summer class is to teach teachers the best way to help their students learn English, not just for conversation, but the best way to study in English. DP

ND launches Teachers of English as a New Language program.

MARGARET FOSMOE, Tribune Staff Writer SOUTH BEND -- About 70 percent of Elizabeth Drake's students are from Spanish-speaking families, some of them newly arrived from Mexico.

For many of the children, learning how to speak and study in English is a new experience.

And teaching to children who are just learning English is a challenge, too, said Drake, a 25-year-old middle-school language arts and reading teacher at St. Adalbert's School, a Catholic school on South Bend's west side.

There's a difference between knowing English conversationally and academically, Drake said. "Most (students) don't have the academic language," she said.

Drake is one of 13 teachers enrolled this summer in the Alliance for Catholic Education's Teachers of English as a New Language program at the University Notre Dame.

It's designed to help teachers learn the most effective ways of teaching to students who don't speak English as their primary language.
Be sure to read the rest of this story! This is only a small part of it.